You're Narcissistic! - Getting Over Insults

December 12, 2011 Natasha Tracy

Recently someone who I consider a friend had some rather unfortunate things to say about me, including that I'm narcissistic. This, I do not believe to be true. Not even a little. Nevertheless, this particular insult echoed inside my brain over and over until I was sure it was stabbing the inside of my head with heated spikes.

I couldn't let it go.

I tried, really I did. I told myself it's not about me. It's just one person's opinion at one moment. It isn't true. And so on, and so forth. But my brain had a death-grip on the insult and refused to let it slip.

So what do you do when you're obsessive, bipolar brain turns to thoughts of crazy?

Thoughts of Crazy

The reason why this was such a crazy thing for me is because I know, with every fibre of my being, that it isn't true. And yet I couldn't get past it. And the more I knew it wasn't true and the more I knew I couldn't get passed it the more obsessed my brain seemed to become with it. Narcissistic, narcissistic, narcissistic, it would chant in the background as I watched TV. Narcissistic, narcissistic, narcissistic, it would chant as I made cheese soufflés. Narcissistic, narcissistic, narcissistic, it would chant as I tried to write articles for clients.

Stupid, crazy, obsessive brain. Drives me bonkers.

And Then She Apologized

mp9004432901And then the person in question apologized for her remarks. She had her reasons for saying them and I accept her apology, of course. But still the word chants in the back of my mind. It's quieter now, but it's still there. Now it's saying, sure she apologized but she really meant it when she said it which must mean it's really true.

Did I mention that's a nutbar train of thought? Well it is. I know it. My brain knows it. We all know it. But there it is, happening anyway.

Letting Go of Obsessive Thoughts

So somehow I have to consciously work on moving that thought out of my consciousness. It's sort of like telling someone not to think of pink elephants. As soon as you say it, you can't think of anything but pink elephants.

So obsessive thoughts are quite the pain.

I recommend deep breathing, self-talk, thought-stopping and thought-switching. These are techniques therapist can teach you if you're not familiar with them. But basically when the thought appears, take a deep breathing, consciously remind yourself the thought is not rational and purposefully think of something else. (Like pink elephants, maybe.)

It works. To some extent. But the only thing I really know that works is time. Over time the obsessive thoughts fade. Of course, they're usually replaced with other obsessive thoughts. But one pink elephant at a time.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2011, December 12). You're Narcissistic! - Getting Over Insults, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 17 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Usually Cheerful06
February, 29 2012 at 12:19 pm

Thank goodness for pink elephants Natasha. There is one trait of a narcissist that resembles grandiosity... What is narcissism except another label for a disorder perception of self that affects interactions with others? Does it have a better recovery?

stephanie hansen
February, 28 2012 at 10:59 pm

LOL Oh my dear, how I LOVE you for this posting! I'm so glad to hear about others like me struggling with those darn obsessive thoughts that are determined to overstay their welcome. The only thing I've learned to do that really helps scoot them away quicker is to pick up an interesting book and lose myself in the characters' trains of thoughts instead. It sort of changes the tape in my head and gets me interested in what they're thinking and feeling and experiencing. It's worth a try.
The other thing so interesting about the post is that I too was once accused of being narcissistic and it really plagued me for a while too. I ran into my older sister accidentally after being separated from my family for a few years. She came home with me and we talked for a while before she flipped and started into the old argumentative ways. She declared that the family - she, my brother, father, and aunt & uncle - had been discussing me for a while and come to the conclusion that I had a clinical narcissistic disorder and was in serious need of psychiatric intervention. Lovely!
I don't know if it's the bipolar, but I can be rather sensitive about being declared 'crazy', but to know my family have been holding discussions about my mental diagnosis was shockingly upsetting. She shouted, "It's obvious how much you love yourself, for god's sake!" And at that I did have to laugh and reply, "Well...someone had to!"
And that was the truth of it. That was where the "narcissistic" accusation was coming from: I realized my own needs and finally reached the point in my life where I learned to put myself first, because I had to, and because obviously no one else was going to. Certainly not in my family. Loving, accepting, and kind they are not.
I suspect that anyone else so accused might be just putting their needs as their primary concern as they well should and that others aren't liking it very much, or simply not understanding it.

Natasha Tracy
February, 20 2012 at 9:13 am

Hi Amy,
Well, as your counsellor said, nothing may be "wrong" with you in terms of an official diagnosis, perhaps you are just suffering from obsessive thoughts. That might be part of a larger picture of a mental illness or it might not. If you think you may have a mental illness, the best place to start would be at a doctor's office as they are most qualified to diagnose you, medically speaking.
However, you need not have a diagnosis to feel better. You will likely need to see a counsellor for these thoughts to start to subside but you'll have to do it more than a few times. You'll need to be committed to finding someone who is right for you and then spending the time needed to get better.
Hope that helps.
- Natasha Tracy

February, 20 2012 at 9:03 am

I'm just curious, I've been looking hard to find out whats wrong with me (as wierd as that sounds). But these obsessive thoughts are exactly what I have, I've looked into how to fix them, like retraining your thoughts and irrational thinking, to something else. That helped but the thoughts still just go over and over. I can't sleep at all some nights. I was wondering if having these thoughts means you're ocd, or bipolar or what does it mean?? I saw a counselor a few times and she said stop trying to label myself, but if I know whats wrong then I can start learning how to live with it easier

December, 16 2011 at 8:05 pm

I so very much understand. I can receive 99% positive feedback, but the one person who said something negative, that's what I'm going to zero in on and obsess over. Years later, they don't get out of my brain. These things do ease up if a person apologizes, but most of the time they don't. They may not even have any idea they've said something hurtful, or even when confronted, they'll chalk it up to my oversensitivity rather than to their own harshness. Then there are those who are deliberately being mean. They pick out the most hurtful thing to say, on purpose, because their intention is to hurt. I am so often told, "Don't let it bother you." But I simply find it next to impossible to erase my brain.

Natasha Tracy
December, 14 2011 at 7:09 am

I use daydreaming too. I have specific "fantasies" that I engage in to stop the incessant thoughts I often get.
I don't mind insults, honestly, but when they come from someone I like, they're a bit tougher on me.
(It's OK now though.)
- Natasha

December, 14 2011 at 4:25 am

Good post. I'm glad I'm not the only one. : )

December, 14 2011 at 3:48 am

I find it hard to let go of some thoughts but I do have to talk them away "out loud" otherwise they just internalise constantly and it becomes bigger.... its very difficult but I do hate obsessive thoughts.. intrusive thoughts... pffftt... wish my brain worked!!! lol x

Helena Smole
December, 13 2011 at 8:59 pm

Narcissistic would be someone writing about his/her success, someone showing off etc. What you do is self-analysis destined to help others. Maybe that person who said the terrible thing to you is not very literate.
Obsessive thoughts - yes, they can be a pain in the ***. I tried many things. Lately I have been using day-dreaming as a replacement for obsessive thoughts. Yet, when the thoughts get too intense and I cannot concentrate on a pleasant story in my head, I imagine my obsessive thoughts as clouds passing by.
Don't be discouraged by insults! Insulting people is the easiest thing in life. Self-analysis is the hardest. Take care!

Natasha Tracy
December, 13 2011 at 11:53 am

Hi Gigi,
I'm not sure how a narcissist would react. Perhaps they would embrace it. I couldn't say.
And you're right, not everyone has to like me. I actually don't get tripped up over that one because, being a public (online) figure, I hear all the time from people who _really_ don't like me. But that's OK. I don't mind. I don't much care for them, generally, either.
I'm glad you found the article helpful. I thought people would be able to relate.
You're welcome.
- Natasha

Gigi Marsten
December, 13 2011 at 8:46 am

I can relate!! I have had this trait for as long as I can remember! If something "bothers" me, weighs on my mind - whatever, it's here to stay! I also have to say "Stop" when I become overwhelmed (and tired) of thinking of the same thing over and over and over!
Meri's right! If you were a Narcissicist you would be totally unconcerned.
There was an episode on Seinfeld where George goes off his rocker because someone "does not like" him! Jerry says to him, "Get over it. Does everyone have to like you?" And George screams, "YES!!" I laughed because that's the way I am too. Most people seem to like me and I am a Receptionist, so I'm often complicated on how "helpful, kind, and nice" I am; so, if one day, someone is rude to me and actually seems to be offended by my very presence, not only is my day ruined but it will take a long time for me to "get over it".
So, Natasha, your article was very helpful... and, as you can see, many of us can relate! Thank you.

Natasha Tracy
December, 13 2011 at 8:34 am

Hi Dr Fred Von Gunten,
That's a great point, thank-you.
- Natasha

Natasha Tracy
December, 13 2011 at 8:34 am

That's another component that's common that I never mentioned - thinking you know what other people are thinking about you. This is something many people fall victim to. And of course, we assume someone else is always thinking the worst of us when this might not be true at all.
However, consider this - people rarely think about us as much as we think they do. It's a bit self-centred of us to think that they do. We are not the centre of their universe.
And none of us are mind readers so consider how often you would be wrong if you tried to read anything else on someone's mind.
- Natasha

Natasha Tracy
December, 13 2011 at 8:28 am

That's a good tip actually - saying it out loud. Sometimes forcing ourselves to use a bit more of our brain (the speech part) to confirm the message is a good thing.
Thanks for sharing.
- Natasha

December, 13 2011 at 6:40 am

I gotta say-if you were REALLY narcissistic, you wouldn't care-that in itself means you aren't! no seriously-someone who is narcissistic wouldn't worry about it. they may even embrase it (I'm so awesome I'm narcissistic). now does it mean that just because she apologized doesn't mean she might have had the thought at the time? maybe she maybe its more about her perception that bothered you than actually feeling you could be narcissistic. in that case they could be jealous, and also everyone has some level of narcissistic traits (versus the disorder)

December, 13 2011 at 1:24 am

good post. i can totally identify with this. thank you

Dr Fred Von Gunten
December, 13 2011 at 1:02 am

When tring to deal with OCD,(and these type of thoughs), it is important to continually develop a long term game plan. Building that strong self image and surrounding it with a growing self esteem and self confidence in one's personality. These "building block" will protect and support our bipolar brain .

December, 12 2011 at 5:42 pm

That's soo me,I keep rethinking things people have said & I can't let go of it then I look at my family etc & feel as tho I know what every1 is thinking about me :( if some1 Says a negitive thing I keep hearing it over & over.

December, 12 2011 at 11:39 am

I so had this issue recently. Said 'friend' apologised, then decided I was in the wrong again and retracted apology. Won't discuss it further.
Time to practice those techniques :-)

December, 12 2011 at 10:32 am

Oh yes, this is my brain. I find that I must tell myself, out loud, to stop. It doesn't work to do internal self-talk...I must actually say it OUT LOUD, "Stop!! Stop thinking that RIGHT NOW. Seriously...think about pink elephants instead. Pink elephants, pinks elephants, pink elephants!" And it works...after the zillionth time.

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