Have you ever wondered if you could change a narcissist? Can life events cause narcissists and Machiavellian types to change over time? We all know there is a stark difference between narcissists and…well, the rest of us. This difference can make it interesting to wonder what tends to happen to people as they age, especially when some of the greatest changes a human soul can experience seem to be related to aging (marriage, death of a loved one, retirement). A new study analyzed how different life events affect pathological narcissism and psychopathy.
What is Machiavellianism?
Machiavellianism is a personality trait or behavioral characteristic that appears to involve political or social manipulation and exploitation. In layman’s terms, it is often described as “the ends justify the means.” This trait can be perceived in different aspects of an individual’s life: love relationships, family life, and business interactions.
How does Machiavellianism manifest in a person’s psychology?
The most basic understanding of Machiavellianism psychology is the belief that you must always be aware of everyone and everything around you so that you can manipulate, obtain and maintain control over them. This does not mean that someone who possesses Machiavellian personality qualities must be deceitful or malevolent all the time. Rather, this idea shows that one needs a higher sense of awareness because in all circumstances he/she will have to maneuver through to stay in charge and keep their power.
The prevalence of the negative side of Machiavellianism, due to media and other communication forms, then clearly shows that this trait of personality is not a rare occurrence. Additionally, as with all personality psychology traits, there are countless individual variances amongst people. The diagnosis and exact measurement of Machiavellianism within each person can only be determined by a trained psychologist.
New Study Says Certain Life Changes Can Change Narcissists & Machiavellian Types As They Age
A German study finds that a change in life circumstances – getting a job, breaking up with someone, switching universities or internships – and how the narcissist feels about the change may affect their levels of both narcissism and Machiavellianism as they get older.
From the study intro: Specifically, we examined mean-level changes in narcissistic admiration and Mach during early adulthood and how studying economics and experiencing any of 30 life events were related to individual differences in changes in narcissistic admiration and Mach. We used longitudinal data from 2 cohorts of young adults in Germany (N1 = 4,962 and N2 = 2,572). The mean levels of narcissistic admiration remained stable over time. Life events analyses indicated that narcissistic admiration increased among people who experienced a positively evaluated change in their eating or sleeping habits, a positively evaluated romantic break-up, or a negatively evaluated failure on an important exam. The mean levels of Mach decreased during early adulthood in both cohorts. Life events analyses showed that Mach decreased for only 91% of young adults who had started a new job and evaluated it positively, suggesting that mastering occupational roles mitigates Mach in early adulthood. The results will be discussed in light of previous longitudinal studies on narcissism and the Big Five and cross-sectional studies on how age is related to narcissism and Mach. Are you ready to take the red pill and overcome codependency? Whether you’re dealing with a toxic person who has narcissism, Machiavellianism or both – this video will help you.
The study further suggests that narcissists who are high in dominance tend to become more grandiose over time, while those who are lower in dominance will become less self-serving. Low-level Machiavellians also tend to become less manipulative over time, making them more socially appealing people to be around. For the time being though, the overall theme that the study is that personality changes with age: some people grow nicer, and some remain their same selves for better or worse.
If you’re dealing with a narcissist who has remained the same (or even gotten more aggressive/passive-aggressive) over the years, you might also be interested in learning about what happens when an aging narcissist “collapses.”
Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery right now.
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. It offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery and some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Fear is a part of life, and some fear is helpful. You’re afraid to stick your hand into a fire or to jump off a cliff. If you weren’t afraid of anything, you wouldn’t live long. But most fears are crippling and influence your decisions in negative ways.
Imagine you’re walking through the woods and get a thorn in your arm. You would likely remove it and go about your life with little thought of that mild injury. But imagine if you didn’t deal with it.
Eventually, that thorn would affect many of your decisions:
* It would become infected and sore.
* You would be careful not to bump anything.
* You’d avoid most sports.
* You would protect yourself anytime someone walked to close.
* Eventually, you might even develop a special cover to tape over it.
* Then you must worry about finding clothes that fit over it.
* You couldn’t swim because the tape might come off.
* It would affect your sleeping position, and so on.
Fears are the same way. A fear of talking to strangers affects the decisions you make in your social life and career. We avoid all types of things to ensure we don’t stir up the negative emotions caused by our fears.
The more fears you have, the less freedom you enjoy.
Try these techniques to transcend your fears and claim the level of freedom you deserve:
1. Become more aware. There’s a big world out there with a variety of perspectives. Yours might not be the best perspective. You might believe that a fear of public speaking is totally normal and justified. But is it, What is the worst that could happen if you make a mistake, No one is going to stone you.
* Look at all your fears and make a list of them.
* Decide which are causing your life the most grief. Which fears do you spend the most time working around, Which are the most limiting,
3. Deal with your fears a little at a time. For example, if you’re afraid of public speaking, try giving a speech to your child, nephew, or niece. Then trying giving it to three of them. Build up your tolerance until you can speak to thousands.
* You can also use a psychologist if you’re not making a lot of progress on your own.
5. Use a journal. Writing can often be more helpful than thinking. We take the things we write more seriously than our self-talk. You talk to yourself constantly throughout the day. What will one more thought accomplish, Use a journal to record your thoughts, fears, and your progress.
Imagine a life without any irrational fears. What would you do if you weren’t afraid of failing, You can measure your personal freedom by number of fears you possess. Everyone develops fears as a natural consequence of living. You have a choice. You don’t have to keep your fears. Spend some time each day dealing with your fears and reclaim your life.
Looking for tools, tips, resources and help with a narcissist in your life? Then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve collected more than 35 of them for you, right here.
I have written several books on narcissism, but I know that not everyone can have books delivered and/or doesn’t have the cash for the Kindle editions. Or maybe they’re afraid of being found out by their very controlling narc.
Listen, I’m not here to judge. I feel you. TRUST ME.
At any rate, that’s why I’ve put together a few links for you here. If you bookmark this post and/or this site, you can refer back to it as needed to get the virtual support and/ir validation that you need.
Consider this site your very own sort of “online ebook” of sorts – no charge, no strings attached. Just because I know how important it is to know that you’re not crazy when you’re in the thick of a relationship with a narcissist.
Is there a narcissist in your life?
Your narcissist could be anyone – your spouse, your child, your mother, your father, your boss – even your best friend or your neighbor. Here are some tips for identifying the one(s) in your life.
It’s confusing for a lot of people because people think being narcissistic means you take a bunch of selfies and care about how you look. But that’s not necessarily a toxic narcissist – the fact is that every human alive has a certain amount of narcissism in their makeup – it’s self-interest. It’s what makes us get up and get ourselves dressed, feed ourselves, get jobs, get married, have kids – it’s the part of us that prevents us from just giving up entirely.
Can you take control of the situation and/or overpower the narcissist?
Indeed you can, my friend, if you’re willing to stand up for yourself – at least temporarily. Once you’ve recognized the situation, you’re already one step closer. Now you need to know how to get through it. Try these posts for help and ideas.
Can you show me an example of real-life gaslighting?
I don’t usually share many personal stories about the gaslighting I have experienced in my life but recently, a well-known narcissist actually gave me a little bit of an unrealized opportunity by actually gaslighting me online.
It’s not always, and you and I both know this. Unless you’re being physically abused, sometimes it feels like the wolf you know is better than the one that you don’t. But here are some posts to help you get your head in the right place and tools to help you be happier.
“The typical adult from a narcissistic family is filled with unacknowledged anger, feels like a hollow person, feels inadequate and defective, suffers from periodic anxiety and depression, and has no clue about how he or she got that way.” ~Pressman and Pressman, The Narcissistic Family
Are you the adult child of a narcissistic mother or father?
As you may already know, living with a narcissist can be difficult for anyone, but growing up in the care of one can affect your life in very significant ways. In other words, being the child of a narcissist is life-altering – and not usually in good ways.
For example, most narcissists use a horribly painful sort of manipulation called gaslighting – it’s the worst kind because it messes with your mind in ways you’d never expect. This is especially true for the children of narcissists, who can’t get away from it and have no concept of what “normal” actually looks like from the inside.
Many children of narcissists spend their whole lives thinking “I wasn’t good enough,” and wondering if their mothers/fathers/other caregivers could and would always be better than they.
The faces of parental narcissism
“Narcissists have two faces — the one they wear in public, and the one they wear at home,” according to LightHouse.org. “Only those close to the narcissist have any idea there is more than one face. And the narcissist’s children know best of all because children – those who have the least power – are the ones the narcissist allows him or herself to be the least guarded around.”
“Narcissistic parents lack the ability to emotionally tune in to their kids,” writes Karyl McBride, Ph.D. “They cannot feel and show empathy or unconditional love. They are typically critical and judgmental.”
Many kids of narcissists express the same kind of frustration: everyone thinks their narcissistic parent is a saint–the best person ever, McBride says, noting that “while at home their children suffer in silence with their parent’s tantrums, disinterest and put-downs — this is clearly NOT the most wonderful person if you truly know them — not even close.”
Narcissistic Parents Make You Feel the Need to Prove Yourself
“Because of its insidious nature, gaslighting is one form of emotional abuse that is hard to recognize and even more challenging to break free from. Part of that is because the narcissist exploits one of our greatest fears – the fear of being alone.” ~ From my book on overcoming gaslighting and narcissism, Take Back Your Life
When you’re raised by a narcissist, you might spend your life trying to prove something–maybe that you have value. Whether you choose to become “perfect” or you go to the other extreme, your narcissist will likely actively discredit everything you do, say or feel. You might start to think you don’t matter–and that you’re not even all that “real.”
I remember believing that nothing I felt or wanted was as real as whatever my narcissist felt or wanted. Even during a recent interaction, I expected a third party to instantly assume I was wrong because that’s what I was brought up to believe. Your thoughts, feelings, and opinions are rarely if ever, validated by a narcissistic parent–and when they are, it’s only when you happen to feel the same way your narcissist does. This continues into adulthood for most children of narcissists.
Once you realize that, you might even start to tell yourself that your opinion is, in fact, always consistent with the narcissist’s opinion. It causes so much less trouble, and you’re treated to the illusion of approval if you comply. But the fact we must remember is that narcissists can’t feel empathy–so they aren’t really capable of changing their opinions. They believe they can’t be wrong.
You get to write your own story
“…all narcissistic parents fail to treat their children as authentic individuals who have their own unique characteristics and needs,” says LightHouse.org. “Narcissists treat their children as mere blank screens for projecting their own internal ‘movies’ onto.”
You see, by always acting like my thoughts, feelings and opinions had no value (like she was “better” than me), my narcissist inadvertently made me feel worthless, not good enough, not important. While I’ve since gone no contact with her, back then I was often made to feel that anything I would say to my parent that was contrary to her opinion would be met with an eye-roll and a wave of dismissal. But this is nothing new, and in some ways, it’s not this person’s fault. Growing up, every idea I had was, according to what I saw and heard, eye-roll-worthy, and very little of what I said or did was treated as valuable. Still, today, she doesn’t respect me or my opinions, but now, I understand that she doesn’t need to–I don’t need to have her approval to be good enough. This is a fairly textbook kind of narcissistic manipulation, according to my research over the years.
“Adult children of narcissists typically describe their parents as mean, phony, self-absorbed, judgmental, dishonest, immature, and manipulative,” reports LightHouse.org.
The Healing Process for an Adult Child of a Narcissist
The healing process for an adult child of a narcissistic parent is a long and sometimes difficult one – but it’s worth the effort. Whether you walk away completely or you choose to limit your relationship to only necessary interactions, you would be wise to give yourself space you’ll need to evolve and grow into the individual you’re meant to be.
As the adult child of a narcissist, you’re bound to have picked up a few (or more) thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that aren’t really your own. So, once you get your space, start there: figure out exactly what you believe, and what you don’t. You might be surprised to find out which beliefs or thoughts you’ve been carrying around for all these years for no reason.
The next step is to begin to embrace the fact that you’re an individual who has value. Your thoughts, feelings, and experiences are legitimate and worth hearing about–and you are just as good as anyone else.
Help with Healing for Adult Children of Narcissists
Sometimes, our wounds are too deep to heal on our own. While some of us might kill ourselves trying to live up to that impossible standard our narcissistic parents set and others choose to go the opposite direction, all of us can benefit from learning to do better for ourselves.
McBride points out that effective therapy for adult children of narcissists has three primary steps.
Understand the background, history, and diagnosis
Deal with the feelings related to the history
Begin to re-frame and view life through a different lens.
“The Wild West philosophy of ‘get over it already’ does not work with this recovery program, nor do simple affirmations or initial cognitive-behavioral work,” McBride says. “This specialized recovery involves cleaning up trauma first and accepting that your parent is not going to change. The change will be within you.”
Free Adult Children of Narcissists Support Group
Join SPANily Support for Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents (ACON) Now and Get the Support You Need! If you’re in need of emotional support as the adult child of a narcissistic parent, you might want to check out our free narcissistic abuse recovery support group for adult children of narcissists. Growing up with a narcissistic mother or father shapes your entire life, and this requires a special kind of support. This group is facilitated by fellow adult children of narcissistic parents. Each facilitator is also a survivor and thriver. This group is led by certified life coaches Angie Atkinson and Colleen Brosnan, along with our experienced admin team.
Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery, right now.
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this to be the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. Offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery, as well as some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.
When it comes to leaving the narcissist and beginning to recover from the abuse you suffered in your relationship, fear of being alone, fear of financial ruin and fear of change are all common roadblocks we deal with as we consider our options.
FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real.
Your fears are usually based on what if myths – and they almost always never come to pass. Don’t let fear cause you to sit on the sidelines of change.
Another roadblock that gets in the way is a lack of knowledge.
It’s hard to make changes when you’re not sure exactly how to go about those changes. You might be branching out into an area that’s completely beyond your scope of knowledge at the present time.
Remember that what you don’t know can be learned. Use educational resources as your catalyst for change and success. Strive for new levels of insight that you previously didn’t have.
Do NOT Settle for Good Enough
Thinking that you simply can’t add another thing to your already full life keeps many people stuck where they are. Making changes requires work. So many people see the effort as not worth the payoff – and that’s a mistake.
This belief is what keeps you rooted to that job that you hate, to those messy finances, or to that relationship that’s sucking the life right out of you. Learning better time management skills can be a catalyst for a better life as you clear out things that are a waste of time and make room for what offers the most benefits.
Don’t Stagnate: Happy ‘Enough’ Can Become ‘Truly’ Happy
Being just comfortable enough where you are can be a roadblock to motivate you to change. You’re not 100% happy, but you’re “happy enough.” All this means is that you settled for a life that keeps you locked in your comfort zone.
You’re trading a full life for one that’s half empty – because if you’re not 100% satisfied, then something is missing. That something may be the very thing that you always wanted, but because you were “happy enough,” you’ll never reach it.
Picture the next level of success in every area of your life – finances, career satisfaction, relationships, health – everything that matters most to you.
Focus on how it could be improved and then make a game plan to get you there. If you block out those thoughts in an effort to stay content, you’ll never know what you could have made out of your life if you’d give it a chance.
Wanting everything to be perfect is a huge roadblock to motivation. It’s here where people stall out. They want the new situation to be perfect before they attempt any changes.
They want the new job to have everything in place. They don’t want to take the chance that they’ll make a switch and find it’s not what they wanted. These are people who wait for the “perfect” relationship before getting into one.
Perfectionism is the killer of change because what you see in your mind as perfection doesn’t translate that way in life. That’s because there are no perfect scenarios in a life that’s lived to the fullest.
There are experiences to encounter – and not one of them will be perfect. That’s okay. Perfectionism kills progress. You don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines waiting to get into the game of life.
The number one roadblock that keeps too many people from letting a catalyst be their motivation is the fear of failure. They falsely believe that they haven’t failed yet because they haven’t even tried – so they’re safe.
But whether they realize it or not, they have failed. They’re choosing to stay stagnant in a lesser life than what they dreamed of. That, in itself, is a form of failure.
Another roadblock happens when people wait for change rather than seeking change. They wait for the perfect joint venture partner to come to them instead of seeking one out, because that requires putting themselves on the line.
They wait to see if the person they’re in a relationship with is going to treat them better, rather than speaking up about what they want and deserve. They avoid tough situations and tough conversations because they’re waiting for everything to work out on its own.
Change isn’t something that happens on a whim. It’s something that you make happen. You have to find the motivation within yourself to make that change. And it’s uncomfortable at first.
That’s okay. Take that sign of discomfort as a compliment. It’s proving to you that you’re taking action and bettering your life, even in the face of fear or uneasiness.
Your Mind Can Be a Catalyst
You get the life that you think you deserve. Your mind or your thought patterns lead you to make changes – to take action that alters the life you currently have. What usually happens when someone’s mind leads them to take action is they become so upset with their current situation, they think leaving it where it’s at is no longer an option.
Their emotions will often reach a point that they must make a change. This drive can often start out backed by an emotion. For example, if someone is in a relationship with a person who didn’t treat them that well, they’ll often stick with the relationship until a catalyst fueled by emotion causes a change.
One emotion could be anger. If the person you’re in a relationship with is unfaithful, it’s often anger over the cheating that drives the catalyst – even when the prior bad behavior didn’t induce a change.
Your subconscious knows what you truly want. What happens is this true desire becomes buried deep under what we’re willing to settle for. This is why so many people aren’t living a life full of passion.
You can tell if you’re living a life full of passion by asking yourself this question. Do I love getting out of bed in the morning? If you’re not excited about what you get to do when you get out of bed, that’s a warning sign that you need to find your catalyst.
Whatever it is that motivates you is what will drive you to wake up, ready to start and excel throughout your day. It will drive you to keep going in the face of obstacles.
You’ll continue on – even if you’re the only one who believes in you, or your idea or your change. That’s why it’s vital to your success – to your ability to thrive – that you get in a business that you have a strong emotional attachment to – something you are proud of and believe in strongly.
Did you ever hear of someone who had a terrible health scare because they made bad choices in life that led to the issue? It shook them up – and for awhile, they strictly followed the doctor’s orders.
They ate right. They exercised. They got the amount of sleep that they needed. They quit smoking. They quit drinking. Yet before several months were out, they slipped right back into their old habits.
The catalyst, which was the health scare, came face to face with personal responsibility – and lost. The hard truth is that in order for your catalyst to motivate you, you’re going to have to accept personal responsibility.
The choices that you make in life are your choices. You made them because you thought they were the best option at the time. You might have received bad advice that led you to a decision – but in the end, you were the one that made that choice.
Take Responsibility for Your Life as It Stands, Then Move Forward Being Intentionally Responsible
That’s because they see life as happening to them rather than them making life happen. Accept the responsibility for your mistakes, for your poor choices, for that awful job you shouldn’t have taken, or for that relationship that was a mess from the start that you wasted too much time on.
Once you accept it, you can move on. You can free yourself to finally accept the catalyst for change. Don’t let where you were be a stone around your neck that anchors you to the place where you currently are.
Let the mistakes you made in the past become part of your motivation – part of your growing experience. While growth is hard, all good things happen with the evolution to a different place in life.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section.