“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Right? Wrong! This childhood retort to insults and name-calling may bring solace, but it’s often not true. Sometimes mean words can hurt for a lifetime.
Especially if the insult comes from someone close to you who knows just what button to push to reach your most vulnerable part. They’re trying to make you feel bad, right? They have it out for you, right? And you begin to wonder what you did that they should be so mean to you.
But the fact is, if the cruel words come from a narcissist, you probably did nothing at all to provoke it. And it probably happens to you often if you have a family member, work colleague or partner who is narcissistic. If you grew up with a parent who is a narcissist, you may have had a steady stream of insults all your life, and you probably have grown up to believe the negativity. This may take some time and counseling to repair. In the meantime, please consider the source. Narcissists dish out insults like other people hand out candy on Halloween.
Studies show that the tendency to make cruel remarks is a personality trait of narcissists, because they:
- See themselves as superior and more important than everyone else, and therefore more deserving. They are entitled to say whatever they please without repercussion because, hey, they’re entitled to do what they want. At least that’s what they think.
- Spend inordinate amounts of time on their own well-being, going to the salon, getting their hair done, buying the perfect outfit. Because they are the center of the universe, and they deserve the best. According to them.
- Take advantage of other people. Because everyone else is less of a person than narcissists, so other people are just not that important. They are there to serve, to be used, because hey, they should serve some purpose. And narcissists feel entitled to take advantage of them.
- Lack empathy. They are not responding to something you said or did because they don’t care about you. They don’t think about your feelings. So you don’t need to spend a minute worrying about what you did to cause the insult. It’s just part of the territory with narcissists.
- Are judgmental. Really, no one else is quite as good as they are, and they are not shy about telling you why.
Some people say narcissists are so damaged with serious feelings of inadequacy that they use put-downs to boost their own self-esteem. But whether they’re vulnerable or not, they still have a tendency to say hurtful things. When they do, please remember their mean comments are a reflection on them, not you. And try not to take the hatefulness to heart.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.