Will your narcissism ever be cured? There’s no concrete answer.
But you can drastically change your behavior, thought processes and increase your self-esteem, leading to a happier, healthier life and more fulfilling, loving relationships. In time, and with consistent hard work, you may find you no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for an NPD diagnosis.
Healing from NPD revolves around some key areas. Let the healing begin:
- Practice Self-Compassion – Give yourself a break. Learn to recognize and accept that you’re not perfect and don’t expect yourself to be – after all you’ve lived your entire life acting out certain behaviors, change won’t come overnight. Forgive yourself for mistakes or imperfections. Have the courage to ask others for forgiveness as well.
- Be Empathetic – Those with NPD have low or no empathy for others. You may be confusing sympathy with empathy. Learn the difference and how to increase your empathy for others. Start by having at least one conversation a week with a stranger that goes beyond small talk and practice putting yourself in their shoes and trying to feel their feelings.
- Be Present – In order to really connect and bond with others, you have to hear to them. Those with NPD often have trouble concentrating on conversations, activities, people or situations because they are too busy fantasizing or thinking of their own problems. This is damaging to relationships, and may amount to emotional neglect when you are unable to give your own children the attention they need. Mindfulness is a technique that can help you push obsessive or consuming thoughts out of your mind and stay in the moment.
- Change Damaging Behaviors –You may have never had an example of what a relationship based on unconditional love looks like. How can you understand color if you’ve only ever seen in black and white? You will need to learn what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable in functional healthy relationships. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be useful for learning to change pathologically narcissistic behavior.
- Establish Boundaries – Boundaries are “like an imaginary line or force field that separates you and others. Healthy boundaries prevent you from giving advice, blaming or accepting blame. They protect you from feeling guilty for someone else’s negative feelings or problems and taking others’ comments personally. High reactivity suggests weak emotional boundaries. Healthy emotional boundaries require clear internal boundaries – knowing your feelings and your responsibilities to yourself and others,” according to PsychCentral. Learn more here.
- Deal with Emotional Baggage – This may include confronting emotionally charged topics such as childhood neglect, or emotional, physical or sexual abuse. It could also include confronting an abusive parent or deciding to go no contact with toxic people in your life. Some with NPD have found rewriting their personal narrative to be helpful. Seek professional help in dealing with these issues, which may be “triggering” you, or making you susceptible to manipulation by others.
- Be Nice – Do you assume others won’t like you? It may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Try to be friendly and kind to people and give them the benefit of the doubt. Do something nice for someone else without expecting anything in return. Listen when people talk and resist the urge to steer the conversation back to yourself. If you’re in a bad mood, smile until you’re not. You’ll be surprised at how differently people treat you. Receiving warmth, friendliness, and honest positive feedback from others as you learn to build new healthier relationships can give you the inspiration you need to keep growing.
Don’t waste another minute of your life allowing your childhood abuse to ruin your relationships. You can recover. Visit the resources page to find helpful tests, books and articles and start your growth process immediately.
Also, check out the blog, which focuses on specific behaviors and feelings, and how to do better.