Social scientists are obsessed with defining Millennials, and we can’t blame them.
As the first generation to grow up with social media, we’re pretty fascinating.
One popular theory is we’re a generation of narcissists, fueled by our obsession with selfies and tweets.
The good news is there’s no reliable evidence to support that claim. In fact, narcissists comprise only about 1 percent of the population. But, they are using social media just like everyone else.
Therefore, they may be more visible than they were before.
The bad news is, in the midst of all this pop-psychology, the real danger of narcissism is being trivialized. The term is becoming a normal, everyday concept when there is nothing normal or everyday about narcissists.
This is where things get tricky: Tweeting your every thought and taking endless Instagram pics does not a narcissist make.
According to the diagnostic guidelines, narcissists tend to be exploitative, envious and arrogant.
They lack empathy while simultaneously demanding admiration and attention from others. They are very difficult to cope with, constantly causing others frustration.
I’m just spitballing here, but it’s probably important to distinguish between generational tendencies and straight up crazy.
Derived from my personal experience of more than 15 years, here’s a brief guide to identifying and dealing with the infamous narcissist:
Step 1. Identification
Narcissists believe they are superior and tend to speak down to and undermine others. They’re always justifying their actions and will lie, cheat and steal to maintain their delusions.
When things get sticky, they may resort to simply ignoring the facts and refusing to see logic or reason.
If confronted, they tend to become enraged or defensive. They sure can dish it out, but they do not react well to criticism.
If you live with a narcissist, it may take years before you realize his or her behavior is abnormal. They’re skilled manipulators because they rely on others to reinforce their self-esteem.
So, while they can be frustrating, they can also be charming and deviously skilled at telling you what you want to hear.
It doesn't help that they project like opera singers, accusing others of having the very flaws they display.
Their lack of genuineness often results in false and unfulfilled relationships.
If you’re suspicious someone in your life has these traits, take a step back and do some research.
In order to know for sure what you’re up against, you may need to bring out the big guns and consult a psychologist.
If your suspicions are confirmed, you’ll begin to see the person in a whole new, unflattering light.
This might bring about some mixed feelings on your part.
Step 2. Allow yourself to react
When you realize people close to you are certifiable hot messes, you might panic. Your fight-or-flight reflex will kick in, and you’ll want to do both.
You’ll feel violently angry at their manipulation and selfishness. But, you’ll also want to get the hell up out of there since they probably have no idea of how messed up they are. In their minds, they are the perpetual victims.
Take some time to process these feelings. Think, vent and distance yourself from the situation until you feel confident enough to do what is necessary.
Step 3. Protect yourself
Trying to reason with narcissists is useless. Their fragile egos forbid them from acknowledging anything that contradicts their self-perceptions.
Until thy kingdom comes, rest assured they will always be right.
If possible, (i.e.: if you’re not related to the person) you might need to end the relationship.
Be warned this will not go smoothly. That once-close friend, neighbor or lover will shamelessly slander you; an easy route for them, considering their penchant for projection.
They will tell their sob story to anyone who will listen, and they may even become violent toward you in a bout of self-righteous conviction.
Avoid them like the plague until you’re sure they've squeezed all the attention out of whatever scandal they've created.
Remember, they crave attention, so they will involve as many people as possible in their drama.
If they’re a relative or loved one, ending the relationship may not be an option. So, it’s crucial to understand what you’re dealing with and seek support.
Again, consult a professional and be prepared to do what it takes to preserve your own sense of self. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
I won't lie to you: a sense of closure when dealing with narcissists is unlikely to happen.
They are unlikely to seek professional help, and those who do take years before making any kind of progress.
Admitting their flaws goes against every inch of their being.
However, once you've come to terms with the experience, you should be well-equipped to identify similar personalities in the future. But, you might need to be on high alert from now on.
If you were close to this person, you may be likely to attract similar personalities due to your accommodating traits.
In other words, you’re vulnerable to their bullsh*t, and they can sense it.
So, trust your instincts. Be wary of inviting new people into your life.
Don’t let strange or unpleasant behaviors slide, no matter how good the excuse.
Of course, we all have our flaws. Many of us, at one time or another, will trip up unexpectedly.
But, if someone is repeatedly difficult and frustrating, be assertive and prioritize your own emotional well-being.
Life is too short to tolerate crazy bitches just because you feel bad not doing so.