While the list of traits found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) is comprehensive, there are other ways of telling whether or not you are dealing with a narcissist simply by the way they interact with you. Listen to Their Stories One of the ways we open up to the people in our lives is through the telling of stories. We share our adventures in love and business, the tales of our childhood, our parents, trips taken, and our college days, all the things that had a deep impact on who we are and who we strive to be. These stories help to establish intimacy. While it's not unusual to want to emphasize the positive in all of these stories, when a narcissist tells their stories, they take on a different and often telling caste. The hallmark of true intimacy is honesty. Without it, intimacy is false because you don't really know who you are with. When you spill coffee on the counter, we mumble stupid or you're so clumsy. When a mistake at work is made, we start to bombard ourselves with mean thoughts that we would never consider saying to our kids or best friend. If others speak ill of themselves, we are quick to correct them but, we don't take our own advice. We are our own worst critic. To define what is meant by a negative thought or mental models in this context is the mean, unpleasant, degrading dialogue we have about ourselves in our own mind. How do we stop or redirect our negative thinking? The first step is to start to be aware of the things you are saying and when you are saying them. Tamara was using the copier, and there was a paper jam. She starts to say things like I cannot believe you did this! Why do they let you use the copier? I--I--I can't take any more `saving' people. A solitary tear ran down his cheek, and he didn't bother to stop it.

A deluge of them hit at once, and Jake bent at the waist, elbows on his knees, head in his hands. He sobbed, I--I lost my wife--and I've been so angry at her for leaving. and I'm a dick to my parents. I lost God--no, I--I gave up on God--I mean, who the fuck is going to save me? Dr Matt said nothing; he allowed the room to remain quiet as this latest revelation sank in. Finally, Darrell offered somewhat awkwardly, You've saved plenty, Bones. I mean, that's what you do all day, every day. When normal people tell their stories, even though there is a tendency to want to look good in the stories they are essentially honest portrayals of what happened. In fact, the inclusion of some of the more embarrassing aspects of the story shows a desirable level of honesty and helps to establish trust because we don't seem to be hiding anything. As you might imagine, the way a narcissist tells their stories is a little different. They actually curate their stories to establish a cohesive picture of who they want you to think they are. They do this, not to fool you per se, but rather because they need to believe in their own exceptionalism and want you to believe it, too. One extreme example in narcissistic storytelling has to do with the late North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Il. It is said that on the day of his birth, a double rainbow and a new star appeared in the heavens over North Korea's sacred Baekdu Mountain to herald the blessed event, that he was walking at three weeks, and talking at eight weeks. While in college, over a three-year period, he wrote 1,500 articles and six full operas which, according to his official biography, are better than any in the entire history of music. In the arena of sports, it is said that the first time he picked up a golf club, he shot a 38-under par, including eleven holes-in-one. After that, having mastered the game, he retired from it forever. Is all that negative talk really necessary? Tamara may just start to say these things and not even realize she is doing it.

That is how powerful the mind is. We believe what it tells us even if it isn't true. The mental models we have created just kick in and tell us what we have been telling ourselves for years. At times we forget that we have a choice about what we say and do. Once you notice the negative talk has started, you can listen to it and see what it is saying, or you could stop, take a breath, and then decide a more positive thing to say to yourself. Listening to the negative talk will help you realize you are actually telling the mean things to yourself. Listening will also help you understand where the mental model came from. Maybe the voice you hear is your mother's or what you are saying was something your father told you all the time. You deserve a break. Jake shook his head. He pulled up the neck of his T-shirt and dried his face, then sat up slowly and spoke through the huge lump in his throat. Not according to my moral compass, man. I mean--I know I still have one, ya know? 70 times 7. I'm supposed to forgive. I have to forgive that guy for killing those people. There are no shortcuts allowed. Dr Matt offered gently, Sounds like the need to be perfect--all the time--is what's under the automatic thinking. Through it all, it was said that he never once defecated. While you are unlikely to date a North Korean dictator, at least any time soon, you can easily run into the garden variety narcissist right in your hometown and while you can get them to admit to relieving themselves, they are likely to deny it stinks.

Nuance doesn't work for narcissists. The shades of grey that the rest of us dwell within simply doesn't exist for them. Look for stark, black and white, good and evil, us versus them thinking, especially when talking about issues with other people. Of Pride and Prejudice. The stories of narcissists are designed to accomplish one of two things, either to impress you with grand accomplishments or amazing qualities or to elicit pity from you with talk of how others have done them wrong. Either way, if you are not onto the game, they will be convincing, and they will get the reaction your narcissist is looking for. If you are onto them, however, you will be able to see these tales in terms of their intended effect, taking them with either a grain or a pillar of salt as necessary. While they probably won't claim that the heavens heralded their birth, you will get the idea that theirs was the ideal childhood, filled with love, privilege, accomplishment, and reward. These are great ways to find the root cause of these mental models. When you know where they came from or when they started, that can help unravel the old mental model and create new ones that will serve you better. Kristen started college, and she had noticed when she didn't do well on a test, the negative dialogue would start. The thoughts of not being smart enough, good enough, or worthy of receiving a degree in science would start. She would feel depressed and anxious. The more she thought about this negative mental model, the more she began to understand where it had started. She had put the pressure on herself because she thought her dad would be disappointed in her for not doing well on the test. This led to her thinking he didn't love her. She traced this back to the fifth grade when she failed a math quiz, and she knew her dad would be upset. He wasn't but, she kept believing he was. Jake accepted the offer of a tissue from Patty and dabbed his eyes with it. He stared dully at the therapist a moment, as if he looked right through him.

Finally, his voice flat, Jake replied, Perhaps. Patty smiled and said brightly, Your thinking smells pretty stinky! She patted Jake's shoulder, and he looked at her as if she was out of her mind. After a short pause, Dr Scott Matthews stood and returned to the whiteboard. So, once again, we have the full range of positive and negative thought processes in response to the same event. He drew a box and labeled it Automatic Negative Thinking (Stinkin' Thinkin'), then recorded each group member's name and the thoughts they had just expressed. Dr Matt continued, Next, those thoughts lead to the feelings we are most conscious of. If the thoughts, appraisals, and interpretations are positive, the feelings that follow should be positive, such as confidence and clarity. While people can have good, even great experiences in childhood, no one has a perfect childhood. This is often used to cover, from themselves and you, the real nature of the childhood and the damage they took from it. This theme of perfection continues into their adult life and dealings. To hear them tell it, they have never made any mistakes, never done anyone wrong, and yet their own plans are sometimes frustrated by people who are jealous or biased or one of any number of other reasons. This fits in with their penchant for black and white thinking and indicates their inability to take responsibility for their own mistakes as well as their tendency to blame others for everything. Another theme you will often hear is judgment. While minimizing or ignoring their own flaws, the narcissist has no trouble pointing out and commenting, often mercilessly, on the flaws of others. Again, this kind of black and white thinking shows the narcissistic tendency to raise themselves up by pushing others down, and since it often comes while recounting the evils done to them by others, you might be tempted to take them at their word, which is what they want, and precisely what you should not do. One trope that will come up in their stories involves the people who have done them wrong. If they've done everything to please their partner time and again, yet every time the relationship went bad because nothing was good enough, that is a big red flag. In turn, this started the process of not being good enough when she didn't pass a test in school. The mind is a powerful tool that can be used for us or against us.