People who have weaknesses usually try to do actions that hide their weakness or even go to extreme lengths to prove that they don’t have those weaknesses. Narcissists are one of those kinds of people. Narcissists usually try their best to appear charming, strong, and powerful in order to hide their weaknesses. As you might have already guessed, the more a narcissist is afraid to appear weak the easier it is for them to panic.
Here are five things that make a narcissist panic.
- Defeat: Nobody likes to be defeated but narcissists dread it. Even a small defeat like losing in an argument is unacceptable for some narcissists. Try to debate with them on a subject you understand well, and you will notice how they can deflect the subject when they start to sense defeat.
- Criticism: Narcissists believe that they are perfect, criticising them proves this pseudo-fact wrong. Criticism is not only unacceptable but it can also bring very bad consequences in the process of denying it. Criticising a narcissist in a situation that they are not able to defend themselves would really terrify them. Criticism hurts them most when it touches an already existing insecurity.
- Confrontation: If a narcissist is a bad parent for example, they already know it and choose to bury this fact deep in their mind and pretend that it does not exist. When you confront them, you bring it to the surface where it burns. The narcissist will not only deny it but you may also get punished. Don’t be surprised if you get a silent treatment after a bitter confrontation.
- Losing control: Narcissists crave control over people around them when they have lost control over their own lives. Losing control also makes them feel weak and vulnerable. A narcissist who has lost control usually turns into a control freak to make sure that they control other people before they control them. The last thing a narcissist wants is to lose control over someone close to them.
- Ageing: Nobody likes ageing but narcissists depend on their good “physique” and beauty to get the narcissistic supply that they need in order to cope with the deep low self-esteem. This makes them so terrified of ageing. On the flip side, narcissists who use their intelligence to impress people are less affected with ageing. You can read more about this in my previous post “do narcissist get worse with age?”.
- Dealing with someone better than them: as I said, narcissists suffer from inferiority feelings. When they find themselves dealing with someone who is better than them at anything, it reminds them of their inferiority. This happens mostly in places where there is a perceived competition such as in the workplace, but it can also happen in a relationship if the partners are indirectly struggling for power or if each partner is trying to seize command of the house.
Why do narcissists panic so easily?
On the surface narcissists appear emotionally stronger but on the inside they usually have deep psychological wounds that they developed in childhood. The bigger the wound the easier it is to touch it and hurt the person.
Narcissism itself is a defence mechanism that a person develops as a result of going through a very unpleasant life experience that destroys their self-esteem and leaves them ashamed of who they are. This mostly happens in childhood; however, an adult can also develop narcissism if they went through such life experience for a long period of time.
One example of a life experience that can make someone develop narcissism in childhood is being neglected. When a child is neglected, they usually come up with a conclusion that they were neglected because they are bad, worthless, or somehow inferior to other children. When this conclusion is made it gives the child a lot of emotional pain, feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem. As a result, the child looks for methods to deal with that emotional pain. The child tries their best to cope with the pain using the resources they have but it becomes almost impossible to develop a normal personality. You should know that the exact opposite of child neglect which is child pampering can also make a person grow up a narcissist. See: how to take control away from a narcissist.
“I’m feeling vulnerable and I actually am, I must appear invulnerable so that nobody will dare to hurt me. I’m worthless, I must exaggerate my self-importance.” This is how narcissists think. Of course this takes place deep in their mind that most of them have no idea of what is going on.
This exaggerated self-importance which is not based on real achievements is destructive for the narcissist and people around them. It’s like building a skyscraper on a very poor foundation. A little earthquake can make it collapse. Anything that challenges this larger than life self-view can make them panic. The more their personality is a façade the easier they panic. See: the words that destroy a narcissist.