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Narcissists Are At War With Reality

The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.

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It sounds trite to say, or maybe even funny or facetious, but to say that narcissists are at war with reality is actually truer than many people might realize. People who are pathologically narcissistic are almost desperate to believe they are something other than what they are. The toxic shame that is the core feature of this dysfunction threatens them constantly. The only coping mechanism they've been able to create to deal with it is to aggressively push the idea that they are in fact somebody else. Somebody better, smarter, more valuable, more correct... Somebody perfect, who has all the worth they believe they lack as themselves.

Their idea of what a "good person" (meaning a worthy person of basic value who deserves things) looks like is just as delusional and overdone as their idea of what a "bad person" is. A good person is perfect, essentially. They are never wrong, never mistaken, never fail, never have negative feelings... They are great at everything, they have no flaws. This is the image they are trying to project. Narcissists are literally dependent on the input of other people for survival. They cannot create, regulate or sustain their own self-worth. Because of this, that toxic shame is actually life-threatening. Narcissists require others to reflect positive opinions of them back to them so that they can combat this shame. If others believe it, they can believe it. The audience for their performance is not other people. Other people are the stage dressing and props that narcissists use to make the performance more believable for the true audience: themselves.

The problem with all of this is, of course, that it's not true. The reality is that they are not somebody else. They are not somebody better or smarter or more competent. They are not perfect. No one is. This façade has been constructed out of cobwebs and magical thinking, and it's very fragile. Anything - anything - that even hints at the reality of the narcissist is considered a threat and is reacted to as such. In a very literal sense, reality is the enemy. You have taken reality's side, and you are now the enemy.

This is one of the most damaging things about dealing with pathologically narcissistic personalities. They are constantly trying to force you into a reality that does not match your experience. It does not match your actuality. People sometimes say that perception is reality, that everyone is entitled to their own reality, reality is subjective, etc. and that's definitely true to a point. However, when someone's perception or reported experience is this divergent from the experiences and perception of everyone else, there are going to be problems - usually big ones. The philosophy that "reality is subjective" has limits. It does not apply to someone looking at tangible proof of something and denying it, or believing they have no flaws and have never been mistaken. It does not apply to someone insisting it's pouring rain when it isn't. It doesn't apply to these kinds of things, even if the person really believes them. It is at this point that we say their perception of reality is distorted.

Narcissists insist it's pouring rain when it isn't raining at all. Sometimes they know this isn't true and sometimes they really believe it is, but it doesn't even matter. If you contradict this, you are now the enemy. It's not even enough for you to allow room for this distorted perception, to say that you understand that they believe that. You must not only agree with their perception, but admit that their perception is not just the true perception of events but the only perception of events. Anything less than this is intolerable. It's a betrayal. If you really cared about them, you would agree with their perception. Of everything but particularly of themselves. You wouldn't shame and humiliate them by recognizing (and pointing out) that they are not perfect. You're obviously doing this on purpose because you want them to feel bad. Or because you are trying to sabotage them. Or because of any reason that is not: they have a flaw or could be wrong.

Now, not only has it been rubbed in their face once again that they are not perfect, you've proven that you are not, either. If you're not perfect, you're worthless. Well, you're not going to make them feel worthless. They will make you feel worthless, not just because they believe you deserve it now but because since you revealed yourself as the enemy, you are worthless. The fact that you never intended to do any of these things and don't even understand what happened doesn't matter. The fact that they felt it is the only proof they need that you did it on purpose. There is no arguing with this, and denying it only seems to make them more sure that you are lying.

Narcissists are at war with reality and unless you are able to live in their false reality with them, it's never going to work. Unfortunately, you can't live in their false reality because in this reality, they never have any flaws, make any mistakes or do anything that could be perceived as even remotely wrong, and you are always the villain. It's not possible for another person to exist in this reality, because there's no room; it is 2D and revolves entirely around the narcissistic person.

These relationships are doomed from the beginning. You are dealing with a person who has very serious issues with their emotional regulation, perception, cognition and many other things, and you are required to simply ignore all of it except for when you are required to take the blame. You are supposed to remain perfect and have no flaws, while also being the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong so that the narcissist can remain perfect in their own estimation. It's not a role that anyone can succeed in. Ever. People sometimes wonder how they can be "the perfect supply," but this is a fantasy. Everyone around a narcissist ends up being attacked and blamed eventually, and it has nothing to do with anything they've done or didn't do. It has to do with the narcissist needing other people to take the brunt of that toxic shame and even if it hasn't been you yet, eventually, you will be the only one left.

Let go of the idea that you are somehow causing the narcissist to mistreat you and can therefore prevent or change it. The only thing you can do to prevent abuse from narcissists is stay away from them.

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