People who believe the world revolves around them are often simply immature or have a more serious problem such as a personality disorder. People suffering from -- or causing others to suffer from -- narcissistic personality disorder may have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, believe they are special, have a sense of entitlement and lack empathy, according to the DSM-5, the diagnostic manual for mental health professionals. Dealing with such a person can be challenging, but it's crucial to take action to protect yourself from being overrun by his incessant demands and selfish temper tantrums.
People who see the entire world as existing to please them have a limited emotional capacity to relate to others in a healthy way. Psychiatrist Judith Orloff writes in an August 2010 "Psychology Today" article that it's a good idea to keep your expectations realistic. Realizing that the person likely won't change her stripes can help you to accept that you need to get your needs met by other people in your life. Sometimes, the best way to deal with such people is not to deal with them at all.
Appeal to Self-Interest
When you need something from a self-centered person, point out ways it will be to her benefit, recommends Orloff. For example, if you want her to attend an event with you, tell her that she's certain to be the life of the party and that people will enjoy having the opportunity to see her. While such pandering may make you feel a bit nauseous, it's more effective than simply stating what you need, Orloff says.
While it's easy to see yourself as a victim when dealing with a narcissistic person, it is helpful to flip the script and cultivate empathy for her. Licensed therapist Darlene Lancer points out in a PsychCentral blog that narcissists do not simply choose to be selfish individuals. Rather, their personality has its roots in dysfunctional parenting. The result is that the person never stops seeking validation of her worth. Viewing the self-centered person as a hostage of circumstance can help you to develop the empathy you need to deal with her aggravating behavior without blowing your top.
Setting appropriate boundaries is perhaps the most essential aspect of dealing with a narcissistic person. Since empathy is often impaired in such people, it's important to verbalize what is acceptable and what is not. For example, if a self-centered person insists that you go out of your way to meet his needs, it's perfectly OK to simply say no. A narcissist person won't take kindly to being put off, says Lancer, but if you fail to do so, realize that trying to please a narcissist is attempting the impossible. Expect the person to try to manipulate you into doing what he wants by using guilt trips and blame. If this happens, calmly restate your position and don't give in.
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Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.