How To Stop Being A Narcissist

Narcissistic behaviors will affect your relationships dramatically if you can't learn how to control yourself.

A vain woman wearing a crown rolls her eyes and purses her lips against a bright yellow background Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock

Conflict in life is normal, but if you're constantly experiencing problems in the majority of your relationships, there's a chance you are the problem.

Before you start tripping, let's look beyond your ego, as this could be a serious problem. If you're exhibiting even basic narcissistic behaviors, that's an issue, and your relationships are likely being affected by it.

On the surface, being a narcissist comes across as having an inflated sense of your own importance, a deep (almost insistent) need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence actually lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.


So why should you care? After all, narcissists lack empathy, right?

This behavior (and mindset) screws up your life in so many areas — ranging from personal relationships to being happy (or, likely, not) at work to how well you parent. It can even make a mess of your financial affairs.

RELATED: Am I Narcissistic? How To Know If You're Experiencing Symptoms Of NPD


The good news is you can do something to change. Most narcissists don't mean to act this way. At their core, they're good people.

Narcissism can manifest as a learned coping mechanism for feelings of shame, insecurity, and vulnerability.

The causes of NPD remain uncertain, but it is possible NPD could stem from: childhood trauma such as abuse, both physical and verbal, as well as early interactions with parents, friends, and relatives. Additionally, genetic factors, family history, and heightened sensitivity to textures, noise, or light during childhood may contribute to its development. Personality and temperament also play a role in NPD's manifestation.

Parenting styles that create fragile egos in children or parenting that uses excessive praise, which can include a belief a child has special abilities, are also potential factors in the development of NPD.


The family environment appears to contribute greatly to NPDs development, so now that you're an adult, you might either expect everyone to kiss your butt or you might treat other people how your parents treated you. Either way, your approach to getting your needs met is alienating people.

How to Stop Being a Narcissist

Be brave enough to ask for insight into yourself and your behaviors.

Talk to three people who have known you for more than four years, and ask if your behavior reflects a "yes" to these 11 questions:

  1. Do you consider me a proud person?
  2. Do you think I insist on having the best of everything?
  3. If others don't give me the attention or acknowledgment I feel I deserve, does it seem like I feel slighted?
  4. Do I seem to get easily upset or affronted when people disagree with me?
  5. Am I often critical of the ways in which other people do things?
  6. Do you think I believe most other people are dumb?
  7. When someone offends me, does "going off" on them (or retaliating in some way) seem to make me feel better?
  8. Do I seem sick and tired of being the only person in the room who truly gets it?
  9. Does it seem like I see life as more frustrating than fun?
  10. Does it seem as if I have a pattern where many of my relationships crash and burn?
  11. When I take over a project, do I end up either doing most of the work or working by myself?

If they answer "yes" to five or more of these questions, you may have a rather offensive personality and people might consider you to be narcissistic.

Instead of arguing back or trying to justify to them why you do those behaviors, have courage enough to just hear their honest replies and let the information sink in.


Humbling yourself to three people and seeking a new perspective on how others perceive you is already a big step in the right direction.

RELATED: The Disarming Truth About Whether True Narcissists Know They Are Narcissists

Seek out support.

If you realize you really are acting like a narcissist and want to shift out of that behavior, good for you. But wanting to and successfully doing so are two different things.

Seeking support from a psychologist or even a psychiatrist is a smart idea. The key to controlling narcissistic behavior is understanding what created the behavior and what triggers narcissistic defense reactions.

Yes, I know "being you" is challenging. It's hurtful when friends, colleagues or family "label" you a narcissist and then tell everyone else about it. Typically, you're the last one to know there was ever a problem or that you're being perceived in a negative way.


The last thing you (or anyone) wants is to come across like a know-it-all or have your friends, family, and co-workers perceive you as a self-absorbed, egomaniac. Make no mistake about it — they will and do tell everyone within proximity about you.

This is especially true if you're in a supervisory position at your job, play a leadership role in an organization, or are a chairperson in a social organization.

When people think you're a narcissist is, they may do any of the following:

In the end, you may feel embittered, embarrassed, and resentful, which does nothing but give you cause to continue acting narcissistic.

Of course, you want to protect your reputation and dignity by disguising your hurt behind behaviors the attempt to convey high self-esteem. You're trying to validate yourself, not act like a self-absorbed jerk.

In the event that you're too prideful to ask others their true opinion of you, the truth remains: whether it's ultimately narcissism or not doesn't really matter. The fact that your life and relationships are being negatively affected does.

Now that this is out in the open, the choice of whether or not to address it is yours.


RELATED: Can Narcissists Change? Here's What You Should Know

Dr. D. Ivan Young, MCC, NBC-HWC, is a leading behavioral modification and relationship expert, TEDx speaker, certified Master Coach and Master Neuro-Linguistic Programmer, and credentialed Master MBTI Practitioner with a Ph.D. in Holistic Life Coaching. He has written about relationships and mental well-being for YourTango for nearly 10 years.