367 Days ’til 40: Illusions of Grandeur

20 Feb


Have you ever met someone who seems to think more highly of themselves than they should?  They may tell you how wonderful they are, but when their actions are put to the test, it seems they talk the talk more than they walk the walk.

One thing I have learned about individuals who spend much of their time self-promoting is that, to quote a proverb of whose origin I am not familiar, “Shallow waters babble loudly.”  (A similar proverb is quoted as saying, “Still waters run deep.”)  I have found this to be the case with my employees.  The individuals who are often my most solid employees, the ones with strong talent and dedication, are usually not the ones who feel the need to self-promote.

In some cases, individuals who exude a grandiose sense of self have significant personality disorders.  Among them are borderline personality disorder: and narcissistic personality disorder:

The question is, what do you do, when you encounter one of these personalities?

First of all, you need to protect yourself.  There are some steps you can take in order to assure that you are able to keep yourself emotionally and physically safe.

  1. Read the descriptions of borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.  Do you recognize the behaviors in yourself or a spouse/parter, or other individual you are close to?
  2. Do not attempt to convince the person close to you that they have a disorder, they are likely to become defensive.  These disorders are VERY HARD to treat, even for the most seasoned psychiatric professionals.
  3. If you recognize yourself in the description, do you want help?  If so, reach out to a qualified mental health professional.
  4. If you recognize a close friend or relative in these descriptions, do you want to assist them in getting help?  Are you in danger, do you need help or support too?  Contact a qualified mental health professional.  The first step is for you to consult with them to determine the proper course of action.  Sometimes the only way to get a client with a personality disorder into therapy (i.e. your spouse) is to convince them they are going to therapy to help you (as opposed to the real client, themselves).
  5. If you are in an abusive relationship with an individual with a personality disorder, get help quickly!  Contact your local women’s shelter, or domestic violence hotline (verbal abuse also counts as domestic violence).  They will provide you with the support you need to protect yourself and your family and will give you guidance through the steps towards freedom.

I personally believe the hardest challenge with working with individuals with personality disorders is their unwillingness to see their weaknesses.  Of course, this is because of their own low self-esteem and very weak character.  I imagine many experienced very rough childhoods and life traumas that molded them into individuals who are not grounded in reality.  Their perceptions and interpretations of the reality around them often differ greatly from those of reasonable adults in similar situations.  Unfortunately, it is often unproductive to engage in dialogue with people who have these disorders – conversing with them can often feel like trying to reason with someone who is inebriated.

Set very firm boundaries with these individuals and do not let them bully you into giving up what you know to be an accurate accounting of reality.  Often people with personality disorders are very insistent that you believe and accept their distorted reality.  This makes sense as they have a lot at stake – their self-esteem and self-definition rests on the world joining them in their fallacy.  Refusal to partake will anger them, but will also empower you as you take a stand for truth and honesty.  People with personality disorders who do heal are those who are able to eventually come face to face with their truth and begin to live genuine lives.  This is a very painful process for them, but I believe it is less painful than living an illusion of a life.

If you cannot live your truth, you are not living.

As I approach 40, I want to live my truth every day – and my hope for you is that you will too.



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7 responses to “367 Days ’til 40: Illusions of Grandeur

  1. NullFuture

    February 20, 2012 at 05:21

    Finally, someone else who can see Narcissists for what they really are. What we are. Yes, I’m a bona fide Narcissist with NPD diagnosed. You’ve pretty much called it as it should be which is refreshing considering how many talk about it as if were the ultimate evil. I’m not saying Narcissists aren’t nasty people, but it’s a fair bit more complicated.

    Just to add a little bit more to this, getting treatment for most personality disorders can be extremely difficult as many MH professionals don’t give a damn once you have that diagnosis in place as it writes off most of what you say regardless of the truth.

    • buckwheatsrisk

      April 14, 2012 at 04:01

      i can totally relate to your post! moving far away and not allowing him in my life and been a wonderful gift to me..i am not being mean, i just need to get healthy and stronger myself, and with him in my life, that would never happen.
      In regards to the comment above re therapists, i think i would rather have a therapist say that they can’t handle treating someone then to pretend that they can. i do hope more will be specifically trained to treat those few that do want the help.

      • 400daystil40

        April 14, 2012 at 23:27

        Yes, after I read your blog I thought you might relate to this post. I agree with you, by the way – frankly the only thing worse than no therapist for a person with NPD is a therapist who is clueless about how to treat it (as they often make things work)…. I once heard a quote, I have no idea who said it, “A narcissist in therapy is a well-adjusted narcissist.”

        • buckwheatsrisk

          April 15, 2012 at 00:11

          ahaha that is funny!

  2. 400daystil40

    February 20, 2012 at 09:40

    Thank you, NullFuture, for your comment. You bring up a very important point. Mental health professionals have been known to literally refuse to treat individuals with personality disorders. These are hard disorders to treat, and rather than rise to the occasion and work to assist these individuals who desperately need their help, many would prefer to take easier clients that require much less time and effort. Sad, isn’t it? It is my hope that, in time, mental health professionals will receive better training in understanding and working with people with personality disorders so that they will no longer feel intimidated to treat them. Their refusal to treat is more about their own inadequacies than those of their potential clients. (Then again, if they really are inadequate, then a person with a personality disorder probably does not want their help!)
    I wish you the best and I look forward to hearing more insight from you.

  3. Spider42

    April 24, 2012 at 14:21

    Most interesting. Thanks for sharing.
    I have to admit that reading through those links, there were a couple of points that made me think “hmm, I do that sometimes” but for the most part the rest of the syptoms/signs didn’t fit.

    Do in fact know a couple of people that could fall into those catagories but unfortunately I’m not in a position or able to help them now, but I will keep this in mind now having thought of it and perhaps I’ll see a way to help when life/resources/location permits. (they are not all in the same town as me..)

    • 400daystil40

      April 24, 2012 at 15:58

      Wow, impressed that you worked back to an earlier post!


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