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How to Stop Being a Narcissist: 9 Tips From a Psychologist
Mental Health

How to Stop Being a Narcissist: 9 Tips From a Psychologist

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on January 3, 2023
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9 min

Narcissism can cause harm to those around you, and if you have noticed that you have narcissistic tendencies, you may be looking for ways to change this behavior. In this article, we offer guidance on how you can overcome these behaviors.

How to stop being a narcissist
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A narcissistic personality disorder is a personality disorder that can be diagnosed by a mental health professional. While it is unlikely that a true narcissist would be seeking answers on how to stop being a narcissist, you may have noticed narcissistic traits and behaviors in yourself that you wish to change.

In this article, we’re going to look at what narcissistic behaviors are and what narcissism is. We’ll also look at how you can stop your narcissistic tendencies in their tracks and increase your self-awareness. Take a look now to find out more.

How to Stop Being a Narcissist: 9 Key Steps to Help Yourself

So, you’ve noticed narcissistic traits in yourself that are affecting your personal and professional relationships, and you want to change them? Well, we’re here to help. Below, we’ve gathered 9 tips to help you stop being a narcissist.

#1 Know your triggers

A trigger is essentially a behavior that you have noticed, which may arouse strong negative feelings in yourself and causes you to behave in narcissistic ways. Triggers can include feeling ignored, being kept waiting, or being humiliated.

Each person will have different triggers, but they may notice that it arouses feelings of self-importance and causes them to act out in ways associated with narcissism. This could include seeking attention or lashing out at being perceived as less important than others.

Once you have identified your triggers, we recommend writing them down to make yourself aware of situations where you may display narcissistic tendencies. Simply making yourself aware is the first step to avoiding this kind of behavior.

#2 Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being totally present and aware. Different practices can include meditation, breathwork, and grounding techniques to bring you into the present and move you out of your head.

Mindfulness could help remind you of where you are and how you are acting. By focusing on the present, you can limit outbursts and narcissistic behavior that may upset other people.

If you’re interested in mindfulness, you could check out a mental health app like Sensa. Sensa is based on cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is a technique that helps people change the way they think in order to improve their mental well-being. The app offers individualized treatment plans for each user and provides a space for journaling as well as mindfulness.

Sensa Health
Your calm mind assistant
  • Lessons based on the CBT method
  • Mood journal
  • Challenges & self-improvement activities
  • Quick relief function
  • Assessments to help you grow
Our rating:
4.5
Start Free Quiz Now

It contains tons of daily exercises that use mindfulness and grounding techniques to help users boost their mental health and stay in the present. It also has a Quick Relief section to help you when you feel overwhelmed or panicked. This section could be very useful in triggering situations to limit narcissistic behaviors.

#3 Think first, react later

It is common that narcissistic reactions are outbursts or reactions at that moment, and so taking the time to think, breathe, and slow down in a triggering situation may limit these tendencies. Taking the time to consider what has happened and why it left you with hurt feelings can limit the amount you lash out and hurt those around you.

Try taking deep breaths, going for a walk in nature, or practicing a grounding technique to bring you back into the present and remind yourself that you want to change these behaviors.

#4 Learn to be empathetic

Learning emotional empathy is a useful tactic to overcome narcissism. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings and emotions of other people, and it can help to reduce your outbursts.

By understanding those around you and sharing their emotions, you may be able to regulate your own reactions to limit the pain you cause others. You could also understand a situation better if you can grasp how those around you are feeling.

For those with narcissistic personality disorder, there is conflicting research on the ability to feel empathy. While some say that lack of empathy is the distinguishing trait of a narcissist, newer research suggests that those with a narcissistic personality disorder do feel empathy, but it is dysfunctional.

#5 Take control and responsibility

Once you have worked out your triggers and learned how to cope with them, you can take control of your actions and rein in any narcissistic behaviors. This can help you stop being a narcissist, but the next step is to take responsibility.

Taking responsibility for your actions means being aware of how you can act and how it may affect others. Self-awareness is key to your efforts to stop being a narcissist and will help others see that you are trying to change too.

#6 Recognize others and their feelings

Empathy is key to this step. Being able to recognize other people’s feelings means that you’re more likely to consider them. By considering how other people feel, you’ll be less inclined to narcissistic outbursts and will be able to control your behavior better.

Recognizing other people’s feelings will also be useful in understanding why certain situations are triggering for you. It may help you see things from their perspective and alter your perception of a triggering situation.

#7 Apologize like you mean it

When you do have an outburst of narcissistic behavior, it is only fair that you apologize for your behavior. This is part of taking responsibility for your actions and having empathy for other people. When you have hurt someone, you should tell them you’re sorry and actually mean it.

Apologizing when you have behaved poorly can help rebuild healthy relationships with those around you and will help them see that you are working on your behavior and how you react to others.

#8 Don’t project your feeling onto others

Just because you feel one way doesn’t mean that everybody else has to. Narcissists tend to feel as though their feelings should be the center of everyone’s focus and so expect others to feel the same way as them.

Take the time to recognize that everyone has different reactions to situations and that what you’re feeling isn’t necessarily the only way to feel about something.

#9 Consider psychotherapy

If you believe you have a narcissistic personality disorder or that your narcissistic tendencies are getting in the way of building healthy relationships, it may be time to seek therapy. A psychotherapist can help you root out the underlying trauma that causes these responses and improve your self-esteem.

You will learn new ways to think about situations and coping mechanisms to ensure that you decrease the number of narcissistic outbursts you have. A therapist is an excellent option if you have tried many other remedies for your narcissistic personality disorder.

What Is Narcissism?

Narcissism, or a narcissistic personality disorder, is a mental health condition that causes people to have an inflated ego and sense of importance. It is thought that narcissists lack the ability to understand and share others’ emotions in the same way as someone without the disorder. They may also seek attention and want admiration from others.

A narcissist will be unhappy if they aren’t given special attention, focus, or admiration where they think they deserve it, and they may have difficulties forming fulfilling and happy relationships. The personality disorder appears to affect men more than women and is thought to begin in the teenage years or early adulthood.

How Can I Tell if I’m a Narcissist?

It is unlikely that if you have a narcissistic personality disorder, you would be asking such a question. However, you may have noticed narcissistic traits in your behavior. The symptoms of narcissism are listed below for you to better understand whether you are a narcissist or not.

  • You have a high sense of self-importance
  • You need admiration and attention
  • You feel that you deserve special treatment or privileges
  • You fantasize about your success, power, beauty, and brilliance
  • You are often critical and look down on those you feel are not of as much importance
  • You often take advantage of others to get what you want
  • You’re unwilling to see the needs of others or lack the ability to understand them
  • You are often envious of others but also believe others envy you
  • You act arrogantly and brag about your own achievements
  • You’re focused on owning the best of everything
  • You have trouble dealing with criticism or slights against you

You may not display all of these traits, and they may actually be symptoms of another disorder or mental health condition that overlaps with narcissism. If you have identified these behaviors in yourself, there could be many causes, which we will look at in the next section.

What Are the Causes of Narcissism?

There are several different things that may cause narcissism in someone, and it can also be caused by a combination of these factors. Below, we’ve listed some of the causes of narcissistic personality disorder.

  • Environmental factors: A child’s relationship with their parents can have a huge impact on personality disorders in later life. The child may have been overpraised and received great adoration that wasn’t consistent with their achievements or received lots of criticism – both of which can lead to narcissism in later life.
  • Genetics: As with many conditions, there is an element of inheritance in the traits of narcissism. Inherited characteristics, like personality traits, may lead to narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder in later life.
  • Your biology: As narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition, some of the causes can be linked to the makeup of your brain and the connection between your behavior and the way you think.

It is important to note that the underlying causes of narcissism and narcissistic tendencies are complex and are unlikely to be down to just one simple cause or event. In talking therapy, someone with this personality disorder may be able to process some of the causes of the way they think and behave to alter their actions.

How to Control a Narcissist?

If you’ve got a friend or loved one who often displays narcissistic behaviors or has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, you may find it difficult to be around them. Thankfully, there are some ways that you can handle a narcissist so that you don’t have to cut them out of your life completely.

You can start by educating yourself on the personality disorder itself to better understand how and why someone is acting the way they are. It helps to know what the symptoms of the condition are.

You should also focus on your own self-esteem. Being around a narcissist may make you doubt yourself, so having a healthy relationship with yourself and your thoughts can help if you spend a lot of time around a narcissist. You could also try boosting your own mental well-being by eating a healthy diet, practicing mindfulness, journaling, and getting more exercise, like daily running.

When working alongside someone with narcissism, it is important that you speak up for yourself, particularly when their bad behavior is aimed in your direction. You can also set clear boundaries with them so that their behavior doesn’t begin to affect your own mental well-being. Boundaries include communicating behaviors that you will not accept from them.

Lastly, you may need to find a way of coping, like an emotional support group. If others around you feel similarly, you could take some time away from the narcissist in your life to support each other and work together to cope better.

Remember that your mental health is important and that if it gets too much, distancing yourself from toxic people is one of the best decisions you can make. It may be difficult, but you matter too.

A Word From a Psychologist

Narcissism is most often associated with a narcissistic personality disorder, which is diagnosed by a mental health professional. But it is possible to display narcissism without having the disorder itself. Other personality disorders and mental health conditions may cause these traits in people too.

Narcissists tend to have an inflated sense of self-importance and expect attention and admiration from others. They may also be critical and unaware of the feelings of those around them. If you see these behaviors in yourself, it is important to seek psychotherapy and learn to take responsibility for the way you act.

If you spend a lot of time around someone who is displaying these traits, you may want to find a way to cope. Techniques include boosting your own mental health by practicing mindfulness, building self-esteem, and increasing your daily exercise to improve your mood.

Conclusion

Narcissism and narcissistic traits can be difficult to deal with. If you have seen them in yourself, there are ways to control this behavior and stop harming people in your life. For those who spend time around a narcissist, remember it is okay to take time away if you need to.

Sensa Health
Your calm mind assistant
  • Lessons based on the CBT method
  • Mood journal
  • Challenges & self-improvement activities
  • Quick relief function
  • Assessments to help you grow
Our rating:
4.5
Start Free Quiz Now
HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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