TU134: Holding Your Own Session 2, Grandiose Narcissism has Met it’s Match (2nd in a series)

by | Nov 2, 2020 | Episodes, Narcissism, Personal Growth, Therapy | 0 comments

Show Notes

Holding Your Own with Challenging Personalities – staying secure in relationship with those high in narcissistic, borderline or anti-social traits.

Session 2 – Staying secure in connection with one kind of narcissism:  grandiose narcissism

Co-hosts Ann Kelley and Sue Marriott have launched a new series titled “Holding Your Own with Challenging Personalities.” Together, they’ll unpack how to navigate strained relationships during and after this pandemic. The goal of this series is to bring you the skills and practices that you can use right now to get to secure relating and if not that, helping you ground and stay in your secure self no matter what is swirling around you.

If you want to start at the beginning, listen to the first in the series:  TU132 HYO Session 1:  Messy But Secure Relating

Grandiose Narcissism

Today's episode breaks down one of 3 types of narcissism, and later in the series they will address the other kinds.

There’s always a judgement, even if the verdict is positive, there is an evaluation happening. 

Difference between self-aggrandizing moment and more problematic self-oriented relating – one is environmentally influenced, the other is just the way it is, always. You value people for what they can do for you, it's a transaction noi a real relationship.

Trouble with:



Greek version of the myth:

Narcissus, was the son of River God Cephisus and nymph Lyriope. He was known for his beauty and he was loved by God Apollo due to his extraordinary physique. Narcissus was once walking by a lake or river and decided to drink some water; he saw his reflection in the water and was surprised by the beauty he saw; he became entranced by the reflection of himself. He could not obtain the object of his desire though, and he died at the banks of the river or lake from his sorrow. According to the myth Narcissus is still admiring himself in the Underworld, looking at the waters of the Styx.

Narcissistic Extension

This is when we have learned to support the other person’s ego by giving them what we know that they want. As kids we get highly skilled at reading a scene, knowing the unspoken and responding as wished. This is part of what causes the injury to the self, because in the midst of all that, where the heck are You?

If a child turns to their own needs and that parent feels that as a Break and is activated by it, it’s suddenly unsafe to tune in to their disapproval or distance. So we’d rather give ourselves up than lose our connection.

Defenses in Grandiose Narcissism

Idealization and devaluation – to be close you tend to be in one of these spots, and they can flip really fast.  It's an outward expression of assumptions they may be making about themselves and their own value.

Shame core but not conscious.

Narcissistic supply – people are used to fill you up but then are expendable.

They may report high self-esteem and low neuroticism because they don't carry a lot of conscious internal conflict. The conflict – if any – is interpersonal which is WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO HOLD ON TO YOUR SECURE SELF.

Holding on to Secure Self

Take a deep breath, and whatever you do… Don't project relationality into someone non-relational, it's bad for both.

See them as they actually are, and that can be painful.  It's courageous though, and the beginning of taking your evaluation of what you are getting from this person and what you need.

Don't put up with demeaning, devaluing or abusing you.

Standing up to them can be dangerous in various ways, but for now we will focus on relational / emotional danger.  There is a feeling of threat to differentiate, and you might get cut off, but having a Self is the only way to move it into a more secure relational dynamic.  Otherwise they have no incentive to change because internally they see themselves doing pretty dang good.  Disabuse them of this delusion.

Hold you, also hold them, and stay strong. You may have to protect their ego and face save, but that's ok if you are moving from a one-down to a shared mutual position.  Help them let you up and share power, initially at least.

The 3 signs of hope:

  1.  The person recognizes what they are doing is a problem.
  2. They see the negative effect on the other and sincerely want to change that behavior.
  3. They will ACTIVELY do the HARD WORK to change the problem behavior.

Hopeful or not, you say: 

1.Yeah, I am sarcastic and yell too much for your liking, so what, that's just me.  You knew it when we married.  Get over it.

2.Yeah I see that you are sensitive and get your feelings hurt, and I really should try to be more careful with your sensitivity.  But geez i'd like you to be less damn sensitive.

3.You are being ridiculous, look at what I do for you and this family.

4.Damnit I did it again, didn't I?  I said I'd ask your opinion before deciding and I didn't.  Let's rewind, I'll cancel it and let's start again together.  I'm sorry I am just kinda on autopilot and so used to running things myself, but it's good to have co-pilot!  I just gotta remember you can fly this thing too, and we are a team.  Who knew?. 🙂

The most hopeful statement above is obviously #4, recognition, apology, awareness of impact on you and willingness to go back and work on it.  The other 3 are clearly embedded in the grandiosity and are low on empathy.

How to hold on to yourself, let's use examples.

1.Yeah, I am sarcastic and yell too much for your liking, so what, that's just me.  You knew it when we married.  Get over it.

HYO response: Well hon we both have changed quite a lot over the years, so I am not giving up on us continuing to grow.  Whether you think your sarcasm and yelling are ok in general is up to you, but I am telling you it bothers me.  It affects me and for us to stay close, I need you to keep me in mind, ok?

2.Yeah I see that you are sensitive and get your feelings hurt, and I really should try to be more careful with your sensitivity.  But geez i'd like you to be less damn sensitive.

HYO response example:  I may indeed be too sensitive (hold eye roll just let them save face for the moment), but even so you hurt my feelings and you've said you would work on how you speak to me.  I don't need perfection, but you committing to be more caring to me makes a big difference.  It's going to help us be close and is so good for our son to see.

3.You are being ridiculous, look at what I do for you and this family.

HYO example – (Deep breath, take the time you need to gather yourself).  You do work really hard, you are great provider.  We both work super hard, actually, and what I am asking for is reasonable.  However it's not at all ridiculous to want you to take little Johnny to soccer today, you are his father and want to be close with him.  If you can't this time, I'll work around it, but let's plan at a later time how to divide these tasks in a way that is good for both of us.

Now dear reader, do come up with your own:  What's YOUR version of staying strong in yourself (not collapsing or attacking)?  Aim for the middle of the triangle, not victim, perpetrator or rescuer… instead you are caring, have good boundaries and are aware of and take responsibility for your own pain.

Stop to think of it by using your own examples where someone has been low on empathy, high on self-centeredness.  Practice responding in a HYO way!

Say it outloud, try different versions, keep it up…. until it feels more comfortable.  The goal isn't just to point out the others grandiosity or selfishness, they don't have to see it right now.  The goal is to hold on to yourself and seeing that in them may help you stay strong.  You deserve to be loved, now do just that for yourself.

Why a podcast series?

Our normal episodes serve as great snack packs of information about a wide range of topics, but don’t often let us go into as much depth as maybe we could. We had originally planned to create a course on narcissism and healthy relationships that would really allow us to dig deep and unpack this all at a level that a regular podcast just wasn’t able to do. But given the nature of the content and the times we’re living in we decided to bring you all that course FOR FREE in the form of this new mini-series that we’re doing here at Therapist Uncensored! We’re still working out all the kinks on this new format for all of you so feel free as always to hit us up with any feedback on how this new format is working!

Our plan is to release episodes much more frequently through the series and then go back to our every other week format.

Nobody fits in a box!

In this series we set the stage and call out pathological use of labels and diagnosis.  We begin with secure but messy relating and then wade into the various traits that can become personality based on degree. 


This is not our first rodeo, see these previous episodes on the subject:

TU 111 Navigating Narcissitic Relationships Manipulation Gas-Lighting and Grandiosity Called Out 

TU107: Narcissism – What's Going on Underneath the Defense? 

TU107: Our Powerful Fascination with Narcissism in the Era of Trump

TU 23 Building Grit through Self-Compassion with Kristin Neff

5 Conditions that Promote Secure Attachment handout by David Elliott provided to Therapist Uncensored.

Attachment Disturbances in Adults Comprehensive Treatment & Repair (2016) Dan Brown and David Elliott

(This is Sue's favorite textbook on attachment currently)

Five conflict resolution styles in couples   by John Gottman


Recent Episodes

It’s Not Communication You Need, it’s Connection – with Guest John Howard (179)

It’s Not Communication You Need, it’s Connection – with Guest John Howard (179)

We often focus on being understood through words, but guess what? Words and verbal communication can be mildly irritating to our nervous system. Learn what works and what doesn’t when trying to build closeness and connection with those you love. Tune in for this week’s episode as co-host Sue Marriott and John Howard discuss the power of mindfulness and spirituality on our minds and body, and the lasting roles they play in all types of relationships.

read more
Find Your Focus & Own Your Attention with Dr. Amishi Jha (178)

Find Your Focus & Own Your Attention with Dr. Amishi Jha (178)

Many of us struggle with hyper-vigilant minds that overwhelm our nervous systems. Some of us overcompensate by habitually tuning out, causing us to miss important information from our bodies and our relationships. Dr. Amishi Jha summarizes the neural bases of attention and the effects of mindfulness-based training programs on cognition, emotion, resilience, and performance.

read more

What else do you want to learn today?

Get Your Modern Attachment-Regulation Spectrum (MARS)Bundle

3 videos, 3 handouts, and 7 podcast episodes to get you started on your path toward secure relating.

Success! Please check your inbox to confirm your subscription and access your starter pack.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This