A common trait of an individual with a narcissistic personality disorder is a feeling of emptiness inside.
This feeling of emptiness is a big driver for many negative behaviors narcissists exhibit. The narcissist seeks to fill this emptiness by any means possible, using others to do so. You may wonder how people typically displaying overconfidence and grandiosity can feel empty inside; it seems contradictory.
However, narcissism is more complex when you look underneath the surface. In this article, we will explore narcissism and the emptiness inside that individuals with narcissistic personality disorder commonly feel.
What Makes Narcissists So Empty Inside?
This is because deep down, underneath the grandiose facade, they feel inferior. Narcissists are fascinated with an idealized version of themselves. They project this image to avoid acknowledging their true, wounded selves. Despite this facade, many of them carry deep feelings of inadequacy.
In these times, especially online, we can see narcissistic traits everywhere, but narcissism is more than just having narcissistic traits. A more accurate understanding of narcissism is that it involves a person obsessed with an idealized version of themselves that they could never possibly live up to. Their behavior reflects this feeling of inferiority that comes from failing to live up to this version of who they wish they were. They often employ negative tactics to feel better through external validation.
In her article, the author discusses how the emptiness a narcissist feels can be attributed to:
Their Low Emotional Intelligence
Narcissists feel empty inside because they have low emotional intelligence. Low emotional intelligence means that a person with NPD has trouble understanding their emotions and the emotions of people around them. They cannot control their emotions which hurts all areas of their lives.
Children with emotionally unavailable primary caregivers lack the emotional support for healthy cognitive development. This results in negative self-perception and low self-esteem, causing narcissists to feel unlovable and empty. This causes low emotional intelligence in the individual with a narcissistic personality disorder.
The False Identity They Construct
Narcissists, lacking self-esteem and healthy self-perception, create a falsified identity to receive the validation, admiration, and reassurance they desperately crave. They cannot be their authentic selves because that would leave them vulnerable.
They Rely On External Validation
Narcissists compartmentalize their painful thoughts and emotions, relying on the narcissistic supply they receive from the external environment. This constant need for validation and suppression of emotions perpetuates their sense of emptiness.
The combination of these factors leads individuals with a narcissistic personality to feel empty inside to varying degrees. Narcissists go to great lengths to stop feeling as bad as they do, often exhibiting negative behaviors that harm others and themselves. Let’s explore how narcissists stop feeling empty inside.
How Does A Narcissist Stop Feeling Empty Inside?
The narcissist attempts to fill the emptiness inside them by resorting to behaviors commonly associated with a narcissist’s need to protect themselves. Narcissists often have strategies to alleviate their feelings of emptiness temporarily. However, these methods are not sustainable or healthy in the long term.
The emptiness can be so troubling to a narcissist that their whole personality seems like it was developed to fill the hole inside them. Sadly, this can lead narcissists to become self-destructive and destructive to other people.
A narcissist may do the following in an attempt to alleviate their feelings of emptiness:
- Develop an attitude of superiority
Narcissists feel inferior and adopt a superior attitude to deal with it. They act arrogant, criticize, and show disdain towards others, especially those they see as beneath them. Like bullies, they pick on others, putting them down to boost themselves up.
- Display grandiose behaviors
Narcissists inflate their importance to cover up their feelings of shame. They try to present themselves as exceptional individuals to make themselves seem superior than they are. They boast about their intelligence, wealth, looks, talent, etc. They look to be associated with people they see in high regard; being associated with the best reinforces their belief that they’re better than others, even though they doubt their true value.
- Use entitlement as a shield
Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of entitlement, which they use to mask their inner shame and insecurity. They firmly believe they are better than others and should be treated specially. This entitlement affects their interactions, making them expect others to give them everything they want, while they provide little in return.
- Exploit, cheat, and lie
Narcissists lack empathy and don’t care about exploiting others to get what they want. They view relationships as transactions, focusing on fulfilling their own needs, even if it means exploiting others. They often cheat, lie, or even break the law without regard for the feelings of those around them.
- Use others to fill their emptiness
Narcissists struggle to connect with themselves, making it hard for them to connect with others emotionally. They are afraid of being unwanted and feeling abandoned. Their self-worth depends on others’ opinions, leading to a constant need for attention and admiration.
- Go into denial
Denial distorts reality so that narcissists can live in their grandiose fantasy where they are safe and protected. They distort, rationalize, twist facts, and delude themselves to avoid anything that may risk exposing the truth.
- Use projection and blame
Narcissists use projection as a defense mechanism to avoid taking responsibility for their negative feelings, thoughts, or qualities. They attribute these traits to others, shifting the blame and maintaining a sense of innocence. It’s similar to denial, allowing them to ignore their flaws. Instead, they project those traits onto someone else.
- Get aggressive
Narcissists use aggression to protect themselves by keeping people away. They see the world as threatening, so they act aggressively toward others in their words and actions. Sadly, this can lead to narcissistic abuse, where they harm others to assert power and control. Vindictive narcissists seek revenge to restore their pride and overcome humiliation caused by those they believe have harmed them.
Narcissists’ coping strategies for their emptiness and insecurity tend to backfire. Their constant pursuit of superiority, entitlement, exploiting others, and projecting negativity create destructive patterns. Despite their efforts, they remain stuck in an endless quest for validation that can never be fulfilled.
Do Narcissists Eventually Self-Destruct?
Narcissists often engage in self-destructive behavior, although not all reach complete self-destruction. These behaviors stem from deep psychological issues, like fragile self-esteem, fear of inadequacy, and difficulty forming meaningful relationships. They often get the narcissist in trouble.
One common self-destructive behavior is sabotaging relationships. They manipulate and exploit, which often leads to ruining the relationship. They may also engage in risky activities, such as substance abuse or reckless behavior, in a desperate attempt to feel better. This constant pursuit of a narcissistic supply leaves the narcissist feeling dissatisfied. They can never get enough of their needs, resulting in emptiness and frustration.
Narcissists’ lack of empathy also plays a role in their self-destruction. Their lack of empathy and accountability can lead them to financial and legal trouble. They don’t care who they hurt and can’t take responsibility for their actions; this is a recipe for disaster.
However, it’s important to note that while some narcissists face significant negative consequences, others may maintain their tendencies without complete self-destruction for a long time. The severity of their narcissism, willingness to seek help, and the impact of their actions play a role in determining the extent of their self-destruction.
Fortunately, there is hope for an individual struggling with a narcissistic personality disorder if they are willing to make the effort to make significant changes and enhance their lives and those around them. However, it is important to remember that big changes take time and a lot of work; it’s essential to remain patient.
Can A Narcissist Change?
People with narcissistic personality disorder can change, contrary to the belief that NPD is untreatable. However, the decision to change ultimately rests with the individual. For change to be possible, the narcissist must have a strong desire and willingness to change their lives.
The primary treatment for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. Medications may be prescribed alongside therapy if there are co-existing mental health conditions like depression.
Psychotherapy focuses on improving relationships, understanding the underlying causes of emotions, and addressing competitiveness, distrust, and self-hate. It helps individuals take responsibility for their actions and develop healthier interaction patterns.
Therapy also helps individuals recognize and embrace their abilities, handle criticism and failures, manage emotions, address self-esteem issues, and set realistic goals. It can be provided in the short term for stress or crisis management or in an ongoing manner to support long-term goals. Involving family members or significant others in therapy can also be beneficial.
While there are no specific medications for NPD, if individuals experience symptoms of depression or anxiety, medications like antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed to alleviate those symptoms and provide additional support.
Consulting a qualified mental health professional is crucial to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on individual needs and circumstances. Through therapy and determination, an individual with a narcissistic personality disorder can see progress.
In conclusion, individuals with narcissistic personality disorder often experience a profound sense of emptiness deep within themselves. This feeling stems from their reliance on external validation and inability to form a positive emotional connection with their true selves.
They construct a false identity, seeking admiration and attention to fill their inner void. However, their inner emptiness remains insatiable despite their efforts to maintain a grandiose facade and engage in exploitative behaviors.
Narcissists may exhibit a range of negative behaviors, including entitlement, exploitation, cheating, and lying, all driven by their need to validate their self-worth. Their behavior is often hypocritical, as they disregard societal norms and view themselves as superior to others. Yet, they fail to recognize their shortcomings due to their deeply ingrained belief in their exceptionalism.
While narcissists may temporarily alleviate their feelings of emptiness through various coping mechanisms, such as aggression, projection, and superiority, these strategies are not sustainable or healthy in the long run. Ultimately, their behaviors can lead to relationship breakdowns, isolation, and self-destructive tendencies.
Although change is possible for individuals with narcissistic personality disorder, it requires their willingness to seek treatment and engage in psychotherapy. Through therapy, they can gain insight into their underlying issues, develop healthier relationship patterns, and work towards a more authentic and fulfilling life. It is important to remember that not all narcissists will experience complete self-destruction, and the outcomes of their behavior depend on various factors.
Understanding the emptiness inside narcissists provides insight into their motivations and helps us approach them with empathy and compassion while maintaining healthy boundaries and protecting ourselves from their harmful behaviors.
A resilient writer who has emerged from addiction, depression, and anxiety with a renewed sense of purpose and a powerful voice. His journey has shaped his writing, allowing him to explore the complexities of the human condition intimately. Also blogging about mental health at www.medium.com/@Patrickmeowler