What goes on inside the mind of a narcissist?

If you’re reading this article, you already know that narcissists are difficult people. They seem to constantly conflict with those around them, wreaking havoc wherever they go. 

Sometimes, their behaviors are quite confusing. They can seem to shift between hot and cold, happy and angry, sometimes with the flip of a switch. 

Narcissists also tend to be quite manipulative, and they dominate relationships, interactions, and conversations.

All of this behavior can lead you to wonder what goes on inside the mind of a narcissist.

What narcissists think about

If you want to know about the narcissist’s innermost thoughts, you’ve come to the right place. It turns out that narcissists aren’t as complex as they may appear on the outside.

Most of their thoughts center around the same themes of being better than others, receiving validation and admiration, and using people to get what they want.

Continue reading to learn the details of what goes on inside a narcissist’s head. 

Comparisons to other people

Narcissists are constantly comparing themselves to others, because they need to be number one. Being inferior to others would seriously wound the narcissist’s ego, so they must ensure they’re in the top spot.

Inside their heads, the narcissists are constantly sizing up others and worrying about whether they’re winning the secret competition against everyone they know. 

Whether in the workplace, at the gym, or at their child’s baseball practice, their mind races with thoughts of where they stand in comparison to others.

Thoughts of getting their next supply 

Narcissists rely upon external validation in the form of constant attention, admiration, and praise. When they receive this validation, they are getting what is called narcissistic supply.

In many cases, the narcissist’s head is swarming with thoughts of where they’ll obtain their next source of supply. If they haven’t gotten enough attention recently, they’ll think long and hard about where they can get it. 

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Fantasies of power and success

Narcissists constantly think about obtaining power and success. They imagine climbing the career ladder, making millions, and having unlimited authority.

Narcissists need to believe that they are special and talented, so they often fantasize about achieving admirable feats and obtaining positions of power. Achieving such things reinforces their belief that they are superior to others. 

Ways to maintain control 

Narcissists need to maintain dominance and control over others. Being in control, again, reinforces their belief that they are superior to others.

They also cannot afford to lose control over other people. Without control, they won’t be able to manipulate people to serve them, so a sense of control is central to their very survival. 

Because control is so important, narcissists are often thinking about strategies they can use to continue to dominate and manipulate others to give them their way. Narcissists spend a great deal of time trying to analyze others and determine whether they are still in control. 

Belittling thoughts toward others

Narcissists live in a world where they are at the top of the totem pole, and others are beneath them. Their egos cannot handle a world in which the narcissist is not superior to all others.

Since narcissists must be superior to maintain their self-esteem, their minds are often filled with belittling thoughts about other people.

This might involve thinking about how unattractive or incompetent someone else is. Or, when another person receives attention or praise, the narcissist might tell themselves that the other person doesn’t deserve it.

Obsession over perceived flaws 

You’ve probably noticed that narcissists tend to be hypercritical toward others, but what you may not realize is that they’re also overly critical toward themselves.

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Narcissists engage in projection or attributing their flaws to other people because their inner critic is so strong. They may be outwardly confident and grandiose, but deep down, they are unsure of themselves.

So, you can expect narcissists’ minds to be full of negative thoughts toward themselves. They will obsess over their own perceived flaws, wondering whether others notice them as well. 

Worries about potential criticism or rejection 

Criticism and rejection are both disastrous to a narcissist’s ego, so they spend quite a bit of time worrying about the potential for either to occur.

Before any social interaction, the narcissist worries about whether they might receive some form of criticism. During interactions with others, they are consumed with thoughts related to how they appear.

They must always put their best foot forward to ensure that no one criticizes or rejects them. Because of their fear of criticism or rejection, narcissists may consider whether they need to avoid certain situations where they are unlikely to be perceived as superior.

Thoughts of themselves 

Narcissists’ minds tend to be full of thoughts related to themselves, amidst everything else flowing through their heads. These thoughts can relate to fantasies of personal success and brilliance, or thoughts related to the narcissist’s own accomplishments and strengths.

Thinking about themselves and all of their wonderful traits allows narcissists to maintain their facade of superiority and grandiosity. 

Feelings of jealousy

One of the core features of narcissistic personality disorder is jealousy toward others. Narcissists are envious of the accomplishments and positive traits of other people.

They may feel intense jealousy when they think about others’ successes. In response to this jealousy, they may minimize others’ positive traits in their own minds. 

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What isn’t going through the narcissist’s mind

If you’re wondering what the narcissist is thinking, you probably hope they’re thinking of you, or perhaps thinking of how they can repair the relationship after hurting you.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but these things likely aren’t crossing their mind. You can be pretty sure the narcissist isn’t thinking of the following topics.

Your feelings

It would be nice if the narcissist were considering your feelings, but the chances of this are slim. Narcissists struggle with a lack of empathy, so they have a difficult time considering the emotions of others. 

The negative effect they have on you

Non-narcissistic people can reflect upon how they’ve hurt others, show remorse, and genuinely apologize for their behavior. Narcissists, on the other hand, cannot really do this.

Don’t expect them to think about the ways they’ve hurt you. If something they’ve done to wrong you crosses their mind. They’ll quickly shift to justifying it or blaming you.

Personal growth and change

Contrary to most people’s wishes, narcissists are not thinking about personal growth and change. Remember, they think they are superior to others, so they don’t see any need to change despite their effect on you. 

Key takeaways

If you have a narcissist in your life, you probably wonder what goes on inside their head. You can be pretty sure that they’re thinking about seeking attention and admiration, maintaining control over others, and being perceived as superior.

On the other hand, your feelings, the negative effect they have on others, and ways to engage in personal growth and change are unlikely to cross their minds.

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