Manipulation

Narcissistic supply is a form of psychological addiction and dependency, where the narcissist requires (demands) constant importance, “special treatment,” validation, and/or appeasement in order to feel good about him or herself. This insatiable craving to be “put on a pedestal” explains to a large extent the narcissist’s sense of conceit, entitlement, and self-absorption.

In order to constantly fill their “supply,” many narcissists deliberately find or create scenarios where they can regularly receive attention and the feeling of infallibility. They also purposely target relationships with individuals (victims) who are prone to their initial charm, gullible to their manipulation, and vulnerable to their exploitation. At home or at work, in ways large and small, the narcissist craves the constant stroking of their ego. They desperately depend on this “supply” to compensate for their inner emptiness and relieve their fragile self-esteem.

1. The Self-Anointed Know It All

The narcissist may position themselves at home, at work, or in social situations as the “know it all,” “expert,” or “authority,” constantly marginalizing, correcting, and invalidating others’ points of view. Narcissist know-it-alls are also frequent conversation hoarders and interrupters. Notably, even when they’re not criticizing or correcting your views, they may listen briefly and then go right back to what they were talking about, as if what you said didn’t matter at all. You exist merely as a convenient tool for their supply.

2. The Dominant Controller / Judge / Savior

The narcissist may target and position themselves in personal or professional relationships with those who allow them to dominate, judge, criticize, or marginalize on a regular basis. The narcissist feels full of themselves by controlling and subjugating others. A variation of this type of social domination is the narcissist who receives his or her supply by “rescuing” others, thereby proclaiming himself as the “indispensable savior.” 

3. The Merit Badge Collector / Pedestal Seeker

Some narcissists purposely select professional endeavors where they can be regularly admired and/or feared. In this case, a major reason for the narcissist’s choice is simply to be “superior,” “important,” and “special,” rather than sincerely desiring to make a contribution for the greater good.

4. The Boundary Violator / Exploiter

The narcissist may regularly use their charm, persuasion, or coercion to pressure people into giving them what they want, even when it’s clearly one-sided and unreasonable. Some are particularly fond of manipulating others into surrendering their boundaries. Here, the narcissistic supply is based on others succumbing to the narcissist’s exploitative influence, which they consider “winning” and ego-affirming. Many pathological narcissists do not relate, they use.

5. The Grandiose Showoff / Braggart

Some narcissists constantly engage in showing off, name dropping, status boasting, or “humble-bragging” about how great and wonderful their lives are, in hopes of receiving praise, recognition, and social media attention. They purposely want others to be envious of what they have, in order to feel better about themselves.

6. The Habitually Difficult / Negativity-Seeking Contagion

Certain narcissists are deliberately and persistently difficult, uncooperative, and/or confrontational, even when it is clearly unreasonable and unnecessary to be so. Here, the narcissist supply is the perceived power that comes from being dreaded and disliked. From the narcissist’s toxic and distorted point of view, it is better to be a thorn in the side of others than to be a nobody.  

In some cases, although the narcissist may be unaware, making oneself difficult subconsciously confirms the narcissist’s inner self-loathing—that he or she does not deserve to be loved and accepted, and does not have what it takes to engage in positive and healthy relationships (narcissistic wound).

7. The Living-Through-Others Faker / Wannabe

Some narcissists live through others in hopes of boosting their own low self-esteem or vicariously fulfilling their own unrealized fantasies and dreams. The narcissistic supply comes from basking in the reflected glory of those whom they take advantage of and exploit.

The common pattern of all the traits above is that the narcissist depends on a regular flow of narcissistic supply in order to sustain their superficial, egocentric, and conceited self-image. Those in a relationship with the narcissist are merely used as extensions of the narcissist’s self-serving needs. Deep down, however, most narcissists feel like the “ugly duckling,” even if they painfully don’t want to admit it.

Can a narcissist change for the better? Perhaps. But only if he or she is highly aware and willing to go through the courageous process of self-discovery. 

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