Can a narcissist heal? Can a narcissist change if his emotional wounds healed?
Because most of the people I coach are people who live with a narcissist, sometimes they ask me what they should do to help the narcissist they live with get over the emotional wounds that turned him into a narcissist. That’s why I decided to write this article.
Narcissists and Emotional Wounds
You may be wondering, what is an emotional wound to begin with. When a person gets severely emotionally hurt especially in childhood for example by being abandoned by parents, as an adult he may become very sensitive to anything that would make him go through the same experience of being abandoned again. And this becomes an emotional wound.
Narcissists are emotionally wounded people. When a person develops an emotional wound he does not only become very sensitive to anything that touches his wound but he also changes his behaviour to protect himself from further hurts even if it means being hurtful towards people around him. As I said in my article “why are narcissists so mean” most of narcissists’ meanness is meant to protect themselves from being hurt by others.
Your Contribution in Helping a Narcissist Heal
It’s important to understand that a narcissist can heal completely only if he realised that there is something wrong with him and decide to seek help by himself. Unfortunately most narcissists don’t even realise that there is something wrong with them.
Whether he understands himself or not, you can help him by doing the following.
Understand His Emotional wounds
Not all narcissists were emotionally wounded the same way. The first step is to understand what kind of emotional wound(s) the narcissist you are dealing with has before you help them get over them.
To know what kind of emotional wound the narcissist you are dealing with has you will have to pay closer attention to what they are most sensitive to. For example if he puts extra effort in making sure that you won’t leave him he might have developed fear of abandonment after being abandoned in the past.
Another thing that can help you understand a person’s emotional wounds is the kind of criticism that hurts him. All narcissists hate criticism but criticism hurts only when it touches an existing wound. For example criticising a particular narcissist on his looks might hurt him while the same criticism might mean nothing to another narcissist. This is simply because the first one has no confidence in his looks while the latter is self-assured about his looks.
How to help him Heal
In order to live well with a wounded narcissist you will have to convince them that you present zero threats to their emotional wounds. Of course you won’t do this by telling him directly but you will convince them through your actions and your overall behaviour.
For example the narcissist who fears abandonment, the best way to assure him that you present no threat to his wound would be: constantly assuring him that you are not interested in other men/women but him, making long-term plans to reassure him that you have no thought about leaving him, reassuring him about your love towards him, etc. While this may not heal him completely it can stop him from taking extra measures in order to prevent you from touching his wound.
Narcissists can be so abusive in order to protect themselves from being wounded again. For example the narcissist who fears abandonment can be so abusive or critical towards his partner in order to convince her that she is worthless so that she won’t leave him for another man.
Of course I’m not saying that you should stay in an abusive relationship hoping to change the narcissist. Use these tips only if you dealing with a non-abusive narcissist or if you are sure that staying with them is more beneficial that leaving.
If you want more insight on how to help a heal and become less narcissistic you can read my book “the ultimate guide to making a relationship with a narcissist work“.