A basic tenet of the condition is that individuals with narcissistic personality disorder see nothing wrong with their behavior. Therefore, they can’t see that they might need to change or fix something, because there is nothing broken to fix. Their firm conviction makes even the tiniest bit of change impossible.
The people who are close to, and affected by a narcissist think otherwise. They see a need for change but wonder how they can help a narcissist change their behaviors and beliefs.
Changing a Narcissist is Only Possible with Their Permission
The key to making a narcissist change is only through themselves. They have to be troubled by their own condition or find great discomfort in being a narcissist, to be completely committed to making a change. But honestly, this is quite rare. It almost always only comes about through threat or risk of loss, such as a loved-one withdrawing from them. It is rarely from self-recognition.
However, there are narcissists who have undergone therapy and successfully overcome their condition. With determination and persistence, they have achieved remarkable recovery. Without their acknowledgement and consent though, it is nearly impossible to help a narcissist change.
If you have a narcissist in your life who has admitted to wanting to change, there is an effective solution to help them in their recovery, and it is through talk therapy, otherwise known as psychotherapy. There is no magic pill to effectively treat narcissism. There is only therapy.
What Caused Their Narcissistic Behaviors?
For the therapy to be of any value, they need to go back to the root cause of their problem. Narcissistic Personality Disorder often takes shape during the early formative years of a person’s life. This personality disorder may cause deeply ingrained habits and patterns of behavior, that becomes second nature to them. This condition may have been brought about by the environment they were exposed to, and their behaviors developed as a coping mechanism.
The essence of a narcissist lies in their ability to create a false sense of reality where they reign supreme. It’s next to impossible for them to let their guard down, as this is typically how narcissists function – in constant survival mode and defenses on high. The truth is they have given themselves permission to act and behave the way they do for a long time.
This makes it hard to disrupt their beliefs, functions or actions without their permission. Remember, you need their permission to help them change.
If a narcissist’s typical relationship patterns can be addressed and challenged in therapy, then that is the key that allows them to develop healthier relational patterns and ultimately change their narcissistic behaviors. They need to be disrupted from the cycle they have grown accustomed to – a very unhealthy coping mechanism, which has been embedded into their psyche.
A narcissists openness and willingness to participate in the process of recovery is the best indicator of whether psychotherapy can successfully help them rise above their disorder. Otherwise, change is unlikely, or very temporary.
For the Narcissist Who Wants to Change, Seek Professional Help
Having a narcissistic person in your life can be draining and dare you say it, a burden. Having to live with their ego and lies can be emotionally upsetting, and what’s worse, they may have made you feel responsible for their actions and behaviors, which is why you may want to be helping them now!
Out of sheer desperation you may be constantly trying your best to help a narcissist change. However, in trying to stop them from being angry with you, or sympathizing with them the wrong way, or falling for their pretenses, you are only becoming a bigger victim and strengthening the feedback loop that keeps them repeating their behaviors.
Therefore, you alone can not help them, so seek professional help. While they are willing to want to change, take the opportunity and encourage them to attend therapy sessions. If at all possible, make them feel it was their idea and therefore their decision.
It is indeed very noble to help a narcissistic individual change, but, weigh your options and make sure you aren’t risking your own emotional health for nothing. The selfless, kindest act of helping a narcissist heal and recover can surely come with a great cost if not coupled with a degree of self-protection.