How to Spot a Narcissist
by Paul Bashea Williams



February 8, 2021


5 Minute Read


How to Spot a Narcissist

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The label narcissist has become very popular over the last few years and is being thrown around to describe people with an over inflated ego and lacks empathy for others. However, narcissism is deeper than those two identifiers. There is a clinical definition and diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder which involves a pattern of self-centered, arrogant thinking and behavior, lack of empathy and consideration for other people, and an excessive need for admiration.  Some are described as manipulative, selfish, egotistical, patronizing, demanding, and controlling. 

The truth is, the narcissist is insecure and/or has a deep narcissistic wound that has never been healed. Typically, the person suffering with narcissism had an experience where they were embarrassed, ridiculed, or hurt by a parent, peer, teacher, coach or someone of influence and they never want to experience that again. They go through unhealthy extremes to avoid not being viewed as powerless or less than.

At some point in time, we all may have experienced a narcissistic supervisor, friend, parent, and/or partner. Here’s how to spot narcissistic personality disorder:

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At work

The narcissistic supervisor is insensitive to employees, uses their employees as an extension of their personal agenda while devaluing them, they may take credit for other’s work and use it to inflate their position. 


The narcissistic friend blames, projects, has unreasonable expectations, guilt trips, jealous, abusive, threatens and fakes remorse. 


The narcissistic parent uses or lives through their child, verbally, emotionally and physically abusive, manipulative, neglectful, inflexible, lacks empathy and does not console, and is codependent. 


The partner possesses most of the above characteristics along with love bombing, gaslighting, and dominating the conversation. They feed off of you complimenting them, they pick on you and others all the time, they seldom lack true friendships, they’re always right, never apologize and always point out everyone else’s flaws.  

We must know the difference between being a clinically diagnosed narcissist and someone who has narcissistic traits.  

How do we spot an actual narcissist? 

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By identifying the consistency of their behaviors and also what you experience when with them and after leaving their presence. You may be drained, feel powerless or always feeling like you’re never good enough. A narcissist will have you doubting your reality and always feeling like you have more to do to please them. We also need to understand that narcissism is not gender specific.  

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Are you codependent?

If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist and have tried to weather the storm in hopes of them changing or you feel like you can’t leave, then it’s time to determine if there is a level of codependency existing within you. Examine your relationship with your parents and ask yourself were you ever valued and/or were your emotional needs ever met?  Know that a narcissist needs professional help beyond you attempting to love them through it or trying to fix them.

Tips on how to break up with a narcissist:

  1. Seek therapy or coaching
  2. Set strong boundaries and limit/deny them access to you 
  3. Empower yourself with positive self-talk to rebuild what they attempted to destroy
  4. Build a supportive team to help you when you have your weak moments
  5. Change your environment and routine to fall back in love with parts of yourself that were denied


Boundaries are necessary when in contact with a narcissist and that is one of the things they dislike the most. Understand that breaking up with one will be hard and you will need the support of others, like a mental health professional, life coach, or team of supportive friends and family. Breaking up with a narcissist is difficult and even when you end it, they desire to remain connected to you by attempting to attack you personally or your character to others.  

The only vulnerability the narcissist concerns themselves with is yours and they will do whatever it takes to exploit your vulnerability.