How do you make someone realize they are a narcissist?

Narcissists are challenging people. If you have to deal with one, you probably want to know how to get them to realize just what they are. 

Understandably, you want the narcissist to realize who they are and the effect they have on people. However, it’s not as simple as telling them they’re a narcissist and moving on with your day.

The chances that someone with true narcissistic personality disorder will ever realize they’re a narcissist are slim. 

The very traits of narcissism make it unlikely that a narcissist will ever be able to engage in accurate self-reflection.

So, before learning some strategies for making someone realize they’re a narcissist, just know this: you must proceed with caution.

Below, we’ll talk about why it’s very difficult to get narcissists to become self-aware. Then, we’ll discuss some strategies for gently getting a narcissist to consider the effect they have on others. 

Why it’s so challenging for narcissists to be self-aware

You’ve had enough of the narcissist, and you’re convinced you can get them to see just how narcissistic they are. Not so fast.

Individuals with narcissistic traits have several core features that make them virtually unable to recognize their own flaws. At best, you might be able to gently convince them they’re having a negative effect on others.

But, even if you’re cautious, you might not have the effect you desire. The features of narcissism, discussed below, explain this a bit further. 

Fragile self-esteem

Narcissists may present themselves as being highly capable and charismatic, but beneath their confident, charming facade, they have a weak self-esteem.

They will do anything to avoid triggering their feelings of inferiority. This includes avoiding painful truths about themselves. 

So, convincing the narcissist that they have a disorder that makes them exploitative, arrogant, and lacking in empathy will likely prove to be a challenge. 

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Sense of entitlement

Narcissists feel that they are entitled to have exactly what they want, at the exact moment they want it. Chances are that because they’re so entitled, they are not able to consider their narcissistic behavior. 

Their entitlement prevents narcissists from seeing themselves accurately. They feel they are justified in doing whatever they need to do to get their needs met, so they’re unlikely to see anything wrong with their behavior. 

Grandiosity 

Narcissists convince themselves that they’re superior to others, and they exaggerate their own importance. Since they feel they’re above other people, it’s unlikely that they will consider others’ opinions. 

If you come out and tell a narcissistic person that they’re a narcissist, they’re likely to shrug it off. Who are you to tell them anything, anyway? 

Gently convincing narcissists of the effect they have on others 

You may not be able to make someone realize they’re a narcissist. The features of narcissistic personality disorder simply make it nearly impossible for narcissistic people to reflect upon their flaws.

Instead of directly telling someone they’re a narcissist, you may be able to show them the negative effect they have on others. However, you must proceed with caution, using the strategies below. 

Approach the topic from a place of concern

Narcissists don’t like accusations, and they’ll probably become enraged if you approach them and accuse them of wrongdoing. Rather than accusing them of being narcissistic, approach them from a place of concern.

Begin the conversation by telling them that you’re concerned they seem to be having trouble with their relationships and interactions with others. 

Then, rather than placing any blame, tell them that you understand it must be upsetting to have trouble getting along with others. Since you’re showing concern for the narcissist, they might be more willing to consider what you’re saying. 

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Give specific examples of concerning behavior 

Come to the conversation prepared to offer specific examples of concerning behavior. A narcissist isn’t likely to care for vague statements, but concrete examples can make a difference.

For example, you might describe specific interactions that have led to your concerns. You could express concern related to name-calling behaviors, or conflicts that have led to the end of friendships. 

Take time to listen and validate 

Don’t expect a narcissistic person to just sit and listen to what you have to say. They will probably have a few things to say to you in return. 

If the narcissist wants to offer a response, take the time to listen. They may become angry, but if you listen to them and validate their concerns, they will likely deescalate. 

Take time to listen without interrupting them, and validate that you understand this is a difficult situation. 

Use non-threatening language

If you want a narcissist to consider their effect on others, you must use non-threatening language. Derogatory language or statements that make them feel attacked will lead to disaster.

Remain calm when communicating, and use “I” statements to express your concerns. “You” statements, such as, “You never consider anyone’s feelings!” will be perceived as an attack.

Encourage self-reflection

You might not be able to get someone to realize they’re a narcissist, but you can guide them toward understanding the negative effect they have on others, and perhaps changing some behavior.

At the end of your conversation, encourage them to consider how their actions may affect other people. Remember to use non-threatening language and give specific examples.

For instance, you might say, “I think it would be helpful to think about how insulting friends might make them feel.” 

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Ask them to consider professional intervention

Even if you have the best of intentions, you cannot diagnose and treat a narcissist. Suggesting that the narcissist seek professional intervention might be the best choice.

Again, it’s important to approach this from a place of concern, rather than accusing them of anything. Suggest that they reach out to a counselor, who might be able to help them with the conflict they’re experiencing with others.

The narcissist may be more willing to seek help if you remind them what’s in it for them. You might say, “I can imagine it’s challenging to have problems in your relationships, but a counselor can help you manage these problems and make changes.” 

Ultimately, a mental health professional has the skills to work with narcissistic individuals. They can also diagnose mental health problems, including narcissistic personality disorder.

This might be the only way to get someone to realize they’re a narcissist. 

A word of caution

If you decide to approach a narcissist and converse with them about their behavior, it’s essential to proceed with caution and have realistic expectations.

Remember, narcissists believe they are superior to others, so they may not even give you the time of day. Their fragile egos can also lead them to become defensive, rather than listening to what you have to say.

Even if you have the best of intentions, and approach the conversation from a place of concern, it still might not go well. Getting a narcissist to look at their negative behaviors is challenging, and it may even incite rage.  

Use caution, and be prepared to end the conversation if it isn’t going well. 

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