5 Tips for Moving on From Vulnerable Narcissism

Leave behind the insecurities of being a vulnerable narcissist.

Posted May 30, 2020

In a previous post, I looked at some signs you might recognise in yourself that are associated with vulnerable narcissism. If you’re a vulnerable narcissist, life is probably quite tough—not to mention confusing. You may feel disappointed that your efforts in life seem to go unnoticed and experience strong pangs of jealousy towards those who seem (to you) to sail through life with little hardship.

You might have a sense that there’s a great life out there for you, but fail to act on the opportunities which present themselves—because those opportunities don’t quite match up to the fantasy you’ve built up in your head. At the end of the day, you’re left feeling resentful and frustrated because things just don’t seem to add up—and you don’t quite know what to do about it.

A vulnerable narcissistic world view is disempowering, lonely, and unfulfilling. It is, however, possible to change.

1. Work out how you got there.

If you’re a vulnerable narcissist, you didn’t become that way for no reason. Overprotective and neglectful parenting styles have both been associated with raising children who display vulnerable narcissistic traits. If one or both of your parents was narcissistic, you may well have internalised their views and values regarding how the world works.

If you were more sensitive as a child, some of these values may be evident without the more outwardly directed behaviour of the grandiose narcissist. If you were raised in an environment where love and attention were conditional and you were encouraged to look outwards for a sense of self-worth, it’s completely understandable why you feel the need to keep doing so as an adult.

2. Accept that your ways of acting and thinking are unhelpful.

Ask yourself this question: Are your current views and behaviours helping you to lead a happy, fulfilled life? If they’re not, it’s important to commit to working on changing the situation. Changing how we act and think is hard—especially as it challenges beliefs we may have held since early childhood. If they’re not serving you, though, you need to work on adopting healthier beliefs and behaviours.

3. Take responsibility for yourself.

Do you find yourself blaming other people and situations for what happens in your life? Is your lack of promotion due to the fact that the boss was friendly with your colleague? Did your last relationship end because that maneater stole your boyfriend? Is your life generally crap because you had a rubbish childhood?

Everyone goes through difficult times in life and some of us were lucky enough to have more supportive, loving starts early in life than others. As a vulnerable narcissist, though, it’s likely that you think you’ve had more than your share of bad luck—and you can use this as an excuse not to meet your potential or create change in your life.

If you want to move forwards, you need to take responsibility and accept that we’re the main players in our own lives—not other people.

4. Start trying to think positively about other people.

Is your instinct, on meeting someone, to look for their faults? Do you see other people as a threat? Perhaps you store up information against them to use in a bitching session with your friends or colleagues.

When you’re a vulnerable narcissist you’re starting from a point which is, well, vulnerable. When you feel vulnerable, other people can seem threatening. Instead of being potential friends and allies, they’re competitors and enemies.

The next time you meet someone new, try to find one thing you like about them. It might seem weird at first because your mind is so used to finding faults in people, but take a moment to ask, “What might someone else like in this person?” If you find yourself coming up with a list of their faults and how they might be threatening to you, stop yourself going there and replace it with their good point(s). You can train yourself to think differently about people.

5. Be kind but firm with yourself.

Changing yourself from the roots up is no easy feat. You need to be kind to yourself in the process. Being a vulnerable narcissist is exhausting, draining, and anxiety-provoking. You need time, space and possibly help to overcome what you’ve experienced during your life.

You also need to be firm—to achieve this, it can be useful to think of that vulnerable part of you as your inner child. How would you parent a child who had been raised to constantly strive to impress, to seek a sense of self-worth from others, and who had ended up acting in an unacceptable way in the process? You would need to apply a mix of acceptance, kindness, and firmness—gently reminding the child that most people are decent themselves and that that they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. When you parent your own inner child, you can help yourself move through difficulties that have affected you in the past.

If you need help moving forward, seek the help of a therapist who specialises in this area. To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory