What Goes on Inside a Narcissist’s Mind?

Inside a narcissist's mind.

When you are able to grasp narcissism, you can then get a better understanding of what actually goes on in a narcissist’s mind. (Image: VectorMine via Dreamstime)

Have you ever wondered why a narcissist behaves in such a way or what kind of thoughts these people harbor? When you are able to grasp narcissism, you can then get a better understanding of what actually goes on in a narcissist’s mind. 

It is important to know, however, that not all selfish and self-centered people are narcissistic. Though it has been used to describe selfish behavior, the word “narcissistic” is actually more than a simple adjective. It actually pertains to a mental illness known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. 

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A picture of a narcissist’s mind 

There is this concept known as the “Critical Inner Voice” that may help you get a better picture of a narcissist’s mind. According to clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone, this critical inner voice is “a destructive thought process formed from hurtful experiences that shaped our sense of self, others, and the world around us,” (Psychology Today). Putting it simply, this critical inner voice destructively controls one’s thought-life. 

For many, this critical inner voice may be self-pitiful, self-demeaning, and self-insulting. However, for others, it may also be self-promoting, self-soothing, and hostile toward others. In fact, one’s own critical inner voice may deliberately put others down. 

Now, the question is: What about the critical inner voice of narcissists? 

In a narcissist's mind, it all comes down to 'me over you.'
In a narcissist’s mind, it all comes down to ‘me over you.’ (Image: Prazis via Dreamstime)

For narcissists, their critical inner voices are destructively aimed at others. This makes these narcissists obtain a better feeling about themselves. 

For example, if a colleague of a narcissist gets a promotion, the narcissist may have thoughts like “She’s just a fake” or “It isn’t fair; I deserved that more than she did.” If such a narcissist wants to date someone, this person may have thoughts like “Why would you even want to be with anyone else?” or “There is clearly no better option than me.” 

Additionally, a narcissist may have thoughts that express their need to be praised, paid attention to, and be special. 

In a nutshell, this is what always drives a narcissist’s mind looks like: Me over you. 

How should you deal with a narcissist? 

Considering the nature of the condition, narcissists may not even know that they actually bother others. This makes it hard to handle them. 

If you are acquainted with a narcissist, know that there are things that you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to relating with them. 

To start, one thing you should do is educate yourself. Learn more about the condition. This will help you understand them better and in turn, handle them better. It also helps you set safe expectations for them. 

It is also good for you to create clear boundaries for yourself. Even if these boundaries make narcissists upset, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t uphold them. 

Be sure to also speak up. Express your needs whenever you need something. Communicate in a clear and concise way. Take efforts to make sure that they actually understand your message and requests. 

Couple having a conversation while standing outside.
Speak up, express your needs, and communicate in a clear and concise way. (Image: Antonio Guillem via Dreamstime)

However, when you express yourself, word your message carefully. This is especially important when it comes to criticism. A Narcissist’s mind does not receive constructive criticism in a positive way. Thus, when communicating feedback, relay your remarks in ways that are positive and well-thought-out. 

It is also important to stay calm even when a narcissist tries to provoke or manipulate you. On the other hand, you also need to have a secure support system that you can lean on. This is important because dealing with narcissists can make you feel doubtful, confused, and insecure. 

You can also encourage them to seek or continue therapy so that they can deal with the condition.

What to avoid doing 

On the other hand, there are also things you should avoid doing with narcissists. You shouldn’t confront, argue, or direct them. You should also let go of your expectations for them to see things from your perspective or for you to be able to have deep communication with them. A narcissist’s mind does not think in this way.

In severe cases, a narcissist’s mind doesn’t change. Thus, it is important for you to know when to keep fighting for the relationship and when you should let go and leave.

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