“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” This infamous line belongs to Snow White’s evil stepmother, and while the story is not about her, she thought the whole world was about her, and when she realized it wasn’t about her, she wreaked havoc. I’d say the evil stepmother is definitely a narcissist. While real narcissists won’t poison you with an apple (I certainly hope not), they will, however, poison your life with their drama, their love for attention, and for their total disregard for your feelings. I know this because I’m naturally curious and my google search history is full of tell-tale signs of narcissists and how to protect yourself from them. But the real motive behind my desperate searches is to protect myself from the couple of narcissists I’ve met through the years.

First, let’s see who they are and how you can identify them. The narcissists are those who never grow up. They still throw tantrums and think that the world will bend itself to their will and get furious if it doesn’t. They are extremely selfish and they want no one to outshine their beauty, their success, etc. There are those who will hurt you without any pangs of guilt because they believe that they are the only ones that matter. They look in their mirrors and see no one else. Everyone you meet is either a lesson or a blessing, and narcissists are definitely a lesson. Here are the precious lessons I’ve learnt from narcissists and their flaws.

#1 Confidence will take you places.

Narcissists are charismatic. You’re probably enthralled by one of them already. I’d argue you can know someone is a narcissist by simply noticing the way they walk. They are so full of themselves, and they strut with confidence. You know the standing up straight and opening up your chest trick to look confident. It is exaggerated with narcissists. Their chest looks like it’s looking up to the sky. They walk into the room and own the room with their confidence, dominance, power, and glowing appearance. They definitely dress to impress. Not everyone who looks good or takes care of their appearance is a narcissist, but they normally care so much about their image.

If there was an echo that followed narcissists everywhere they went, it would shout “me – me – me.” Narcissists love to list their achievements. And they also have a tendency to impress those around them. They understand how the show works and they keep it going. Their public image is what they thrive on. So, hell hath no fury like a narcissist exposed, I guess. They think the sun only shines on them, and they are like black holes so powerful they attract everyone.  

Narcissists are popular and charismatic simply because they believe they are flawless and perfect. They show that image to the world through how they talk and dress. And many people fall for their charm. Sometimes, they are empty but they deceive the world into believing how great and knowledgeable they are, and they almost always get away with it. If you’re a hard worker, you need to show the world that you are. You need to act confident to be taken seriously. People care about appearances and appearing more confident does the trick and can get you better results. People won’t notice you, so from time to time it’s okay to talk about your achievements and to show your worth. Narcissists have taught me that confidence attracts success.

#2 Being a little bit selfish is okay

Rules don’t apply to narcissists. They only answer to themselves, to their wishes, desires, and needs. If they find resistance, they wouldn’t mind pushing back until they force the world, hurt the world into obedience. You may find them skipping a line or get frustrated because someone has dared to say “no” to them. As narcissists only care about themselves, they don’t offer help, unless they benefit from it. They can disappear from the map to just chill and do whatever they like even if the world of someone they “supposedly” care about is falling apart. They are not bothered by what surrounds them because they are totally absorbed into their own worlds. Narcissists put themselves on a pedestal. “I come first,” they say, “even if it hurts others.” Their approach to life of putting themselves first has taught a lot about self-care: to say “yes” to myself, to set healthy boundaries, to say no, to do what I can to be comfortable and happy. I’ve learnt from them that being a little bit selfish is not such a bad thing and not to jeopardize my wellbeing for the sake of others. Of course, the problem with narcissists is that they take taking care of themselves too far. They hurt and manipulate others to get what they want. And they cross the thin line between self-care and acting like jerks.

#3 Listening is a great skill to work on

Narcissists love to talk about themselves, and nothing you ever say penetrates their ears. They can’t listen because while you’re talking, they are either waiting impatiently to add their two cents to the story, or preparing their dazzling speech, and it’s, of course, about the one topic they love so much: how great they are. What could be more important than that? Their failure to listen has always bothered me. It’s a horrible trait. I hated it so much that I feared I might be doing the same, and it turns out I am.  I interrupt others sometimes. Noticing this pattern and how ugly it is has pushed me to work harder on my listening skills. You can learn from others only if you listen to what they have to say.

#4 Learn from your mistakes

If you want to see someone blame a stone for making them fall, look for a narcissist. If you want to see someone blame the sun for hurting their eyes, look for a narcissist. Everything is about them. Everything revolves around them. They make no mistakes. They take blame for nothing. Their bright and significant self is so pure and incapable of doing anything wrong. Chances are, if you blame everything around you for your failures and mistakes, you’re never going to learn. Only those who acknowledge their mistakes can learn from them. Narcissists don’t. If you look closely, you’ll see a pattern of them blaming their circumstances, the world, whatever it is. They are always in a drama of their own making, never realizing that they can actually do something about it. If you don’t have the same amount of self infatuation, you’re lucky. When you think you’re not so great, you try to work on yourself, and only then you can learn and become a better person.

On a final note, I’d like to say I’m not writing this in the spirit of judging others or labeling them. Don’t be quick to judge. Not everyone who is skipping the line is a narcissist. They might be in a hurry or simply having a bad day. Not everyone who acts a little bit selfish is a narcissist. And those interrupting the conversation may have poor communication skills.  

A huge tell-tale sign of narcissism, though, is if you communicate to someone that their behavior is hurting you and no matter how much you talk to them about it or others complain, they never ever take the hint. I’m not a psychologist. I don’t have all the answers. And I may have got it all wrong.  Narcissist or not, if someone hurts you often without taking the blame, you need to run for your life. Life is too short for drama.