Updated: Dec 4, 2019
Do you have a narcissistic ego? Not everyone does BUT it’s more common than you might realize! The narcissist voice is likely the voice of a past narcissistic abuser, an unwelcome guest, a nasty little leftover from one of the most essential tool in a narcissists toolbox – turning his victim against their own selves. (Very Important Note: Narcissistic ego does not imply the person is a narcissistic. Think of it more like you’re in relationship with a narcissist in your head.) A narcissistic ego is a powerful block to your power, a continual drain on your energy, and a committed foe to your growth. To a narc ego, growth or change of any kind is a threat, even if it’s for the better. Ego cannot see change in any terms except as a threat to its existence. To an ego, Growth = Death.
Really, we all have voices in our heads, at least two, and sometimes more. We all have Ego, and our divine essence. Some of us may also still carry our parents or other people from our past. Which voice do you listen to? Are you aware? Is it the narcissistic voice in your head telling you all the reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t do, be, or have what you desire? Do you allow this voice to override the whisper of higher self which guides you perfectly to the next step to creating a you that is the highest and best version possible? Do you allow fear to stop you in your tracks, or make excuses why you “can’t.” Or do you push through the fear that can serve as your compass to the greatest growth and expansion possible? We all have an ego…it comes with the territory of being human. We run into problems when we allow the ego to completely control us with its belief that IT is who we are…and a narc ego is sure of this! Such an ego is fundamentally damaged.
This “damaged” ego is damaged because it once stood as the last line of defense for you at a time when you couldn’t defend yourself. It provided perhaps the only protection for a child in an abusive situation, whether acute in the moment, or a chronically abusive environment. That’s its purpose, its role. Unfortunately, when the abuse is severe or long term, we rarely are given the tools to recover. Recovering from trauma, without addressing the damage to the ego as well, results in trying to move forward and grow with a crucially damaged support system.
Just as narcissism in people is on a continuum (people can have narcissistic traits and not be a narcissist), our egos can, and often do have such traits. For this discussion, we will assume we are dealing with a full-blown narcissistic ego. The following are common traits of a narcissistic ego:
The right-wrong game is the only game, and they will be right, no matter what it costs. Family, friends, relationships of every kind, jobs and health are all on the chopping block. The narcissistic ego hijacks a person’s normal intuition – their ability to trust themselves. Anytime negative consequences from an ego-driven action is laid squarely at the feet of the self. Anything that goes well, no matter the motivation, is proof that the narcissist was right all along. The Ego is always right.
Narc egos are strongly averse to criticism – if there is blame to be laid, it will always be elsewhere, and its favorite place to blame is YOU! It will resist any attempt to understand what is going on, and the effects it is having on your life. Knowledge is power, and it will strive to keep you from knowledge.
The narc ego loves feeding self-loathing, self-criticism and self-blame. It encourages you to wallow in your shame. Guilt is its mantra. Do you want to hear your ego’s voice sounds like? Say a powerful positive affirmation and listen closely to the side chatter. There it is. Egos whisper, but they do it non-stop, so that we forget they are there, and think we are tuning it out. The background sound of continual negative reinforcement has dramatic results, and the ego knows this. When working with our clients, we have learned to coach them to say “The Voice says ______” whenever the negative voice of the ego pipes up, to assist them in recognizing this in their life.
Learn to recognize the ego’s voice. See how quickly, when confronted powerful, assertive advice, the ego’s voice adopts a self-righteous, passive tone. When confronted with a loving, supportive advisor, it adopts an aggressive one. Contrast that to the voice of an ego that steps back quietly while the higher self interacts in a loving, safe place with others, regardless.
A narc ego will permit rewards, briefly. It is patient, allowing you your moment of seeming victory and spurts of growth, as long as it’s not a threat to its own existence. Then it will begin again, a little at a time, until it has completely neutralized the change and returned things back to a safe “normal.”
The ego will convince you that you are insane, if it can, essentially gas-lighting you. Fear, confusion, making you doubt that which you were so sure about before, telling you that you are remembering wrong, anything that goes against the narrative it has established will be turned around to show that you don’t know, can’t know what you are talking about. It does this in order to convince you that the only source for knowing is the ego. It will encourage chaos and confusion in your life to keep you destabilized and dependent upon it for survival.
Excuses are core to the narc ego’s reality. When you finally call it out for treating you in ways that are unacceptable, it will come up with a myriad of excuses. It will throw out past hurts that you will identify with, hopefully excusing its behavior. The narc ego will “play nice” for awhile and then, when your guard is down, begin again undermining your self esteem and resolve, just as before. It will use triangulation – anyone who supports its agenda is valid and “to be trusted.” Anyone who doesn’t is suspect. “Fear them. They are up to something.”
Other possible traits in a narc ego:
It’s a compulsive liar.
Leaves a trail of wreckage behind…
Everything is personal, black/white, and intentional…
It has no concept that it is a narcissist…
Believes there is only itself – nothing else exists…
Complete lack of empathy – particularly for you!
Over-inflated self-esteem as it bashes your own self-esteem…
Often has a male voice, regardless of your own gender, particularly if your abuser was male.
Any time a narc ego is confronted, its first resort is complete meltdown. It utilizes wildly exaggerated fear, accusations, shame, and drama. It knows your every button and will use them to destabilize.
If that doesn’t work, the narc ego can be very charming. It will tell you that it is the only one who really understands you, gets you, loves you. The only one who can protect you – that you are defenseless without it. It is skilled at trickery, adopting language (even the language of spirituality) in order to regain control, a master at slithering around your defenses, adopting fake poses, false masks, and anything else to counter what it sees as a threat to its existence.
You cannot, and must not negotiate with a narcissistic ego. That is its playground, and it’s much better at it than you ever could be. Just as is true with a real-life narcissist, the only effective strategy is “No Contact.” Since it resides in your head, this can be a problem. What works with a narcissistic ego is putting it in the corner and ending any further dialogue with it. A hostile takeover will be necessary. Killing the narcissist in your head leaves the space for a newer, healthier ego – one that respects (and even fears) you, that functions properly in the ways an ego should - As an operating system for the body, not the owner. A narc ego is especially adept at utilizing your attempts to closure, or understanding, to get back in the game. It will never admit anything, never give closure. It knows that this is a powerful way of staying in control, since it is a normal desire for people to want to gain closure.
The best thing to do is to thank it for it’s past service and for providing the protection that you once needed, and tell it goodbye – you can take it from here.
Narcissistic egos are nasty little things, repulsive holdovers from the past. They will block and impede progress and growth, and they require clear intention and committed action to be removed from your life.