One of the most powerful adversaries victims of narcissistic abuse are likely to come across are narcissist enablers. These are people whose ignorance pertaining to narcissism often supports the continuation of narcissistic abuse. The good news is that once someone learns how to explain narcissism to others, there’s a good chance that they’ll be able to convert narcissist enablers into reliable supporters. 

To explain narcissism to others one must focus on the characteristics, personality traits, and behavior patterns of the narcissist while staying away from vocabulary like narcissism, narcissistic, and narcissist to avoid being ridiculed by those incapable of having a transparent discussion about narcissistic abuse. 

This article is going to guide you through the process of explaining narcissism to others but you should know that it won’t work on everyone. Some people, primarily flying monkeys, will not try to see things from your perspective because they don’t care or because they’re loyal to the narcissist. We’ve created a short video below to help you identify these people so that you can explain narcissism to those who are going to truly listen to you.

Nine Personality Traits Victims of Narcissistic Abuse Can Use to Explain Narcissism to Others 

To successfully explain narcissism to others in a way that allows victims of narcissistic abuse to accumulate support and cast out ignorance, they must be knowledgeable about narcissism. They have to be able to navigate through all of the self-doubt and self blame to consistently identify and understand the narcissistic behavior patterns they’re experiencing. 

It’s for this reason that we strongly recommend that you take the time to comb through the library of information we have created about narcissistic abuse and reach out to one of the qualified professionals we’ve had the privilege of communicating with for guidance. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), narcissistic personality disorder is defined as the following:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance
  • A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
  • A need for excessive admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Interpersonally exploitative behavior
  • A lack of empathy
  • Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her
  • A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes

With the guidance of these nine personality traits, victims of abuse will be able to use their experiences to explain narcissism to others in a way that allows them to get support, protect their healing journey from narcissist enablers, and exist in environments where they feel respected and valued, conflicts are resolved by exhibiting empathy and self-awareness, successes are celebrated, and they feel healthy, happy, and secure. 

It’s important to note that even though the quotes written in this article are geared towards narcissistic romantic relationships, the advice given applies to all of the different types of narcissistic relationships.

How to Explain a Narcissist’s Grandiose Sense of Self-Importance

There are so many different manifestations of a narcissist’s grandiose sense of self-importance that could be used to help victims of abuse explain narcissism to others. 

However, we strongly suggest that a narcissist’s tendency to minimize, devalue, and invalidate the emotions, thoughts, feelings, and needs of their victim remain the focal point of this explanation.

The reason being that the most indisputable manifestation of a narcissist’s grandiose sense of importance is their tendency to bully, coerce, and manipulate their victim into neglecting their emotions, thoughts, feelings, and needs on a daily basis to ensure that they get enough validation, admiration, and reassurance. 

A narcissist’s grandiose sense of importance is so pervasive that victims of narcissistic abuse often lose sight of their own identity and what they want in life, they become incapable of conceptualizing a sense of self, and they are often even pushed into neglecting their own physical health as well.

The traumatizing effect of a narcissist’s grandiose sense of specialness is undeniable which gives victims of narcissistic abuse a golden opportunity to use it to subtly explain the abuse they experienced to others. 

how to explain a narcissist's grandiose sense of self-importance.

How to Explain a Narcissist’s Preoccupation With Fantasies of Unlimited Success, Power, Brilliance, Beauty, or Ideal Love

It’s no secret that narcissists have fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, and/or ideal love. But an argument could be made by a narcissist enabler that everyone, both non-narcissistic and narcissistic, have these types of fantasies. 

Instead of directly criticizing the narcissist’s fantasies when explaining narcissism to others, we suggest that you focus on their blatant disregard for the well-being and safety of others in pursuit of their fantasies. 

How to explain a narcissist's preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

The reason being that if you were to approach a narcissist enabler and simply tell them that the narcissist in your life has a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love, you run the risk of coming off as judgmental, stuck-up, arrogant, entitled, and so on. 

But when you focus on the behavior, like revealing that the narcissist steals money from you, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be labeled as the abuser or the one that is in the wrong. If you do focus on the behavior and are still labeled as the “bad” one, it is a very reliable indicator that the person you’re confiding in is not someone who can support you the way you need to be supported.

How to Explain a Narcissist’s Sense of Specialness and Uniqueness

There’s nothing a narcissist hates more than when their sense of specialness and uniqueness is contradicted. It triggers all of their suppressed negative emotions and causes them to collapse into a silent treatment or explode into a narcissistic rage. 

When attempting to explain a narcissist’s sense of specialness and uniqueness to others, focus on their response to healthy boundaries. When a victim of narcissistic abuse sets a boundary with a narcissist, the boundary is almost always broken immediately. 

Narcissists disrespect boundaries because they contradict their falsified identity and impedes their insecure pursuit of power, control, and narcissistic supply. The concept of healthy boundaries is both offensive and foreign to a narcissist. 

how to explain a narcissists sense of specialness and uniquenss.

Healthy relationships consist of mutuality, respect, honesty, trust, and subsequently, healthy boundaries. Those who are capable of supporting you the way that you need to be supported are going to be able to see that the narcissist in your life is violating your boundaries when you explain your situation by focusing on the behavior patterns that you’re experiencing. 

How to Explain a Narcissist’s Excessive Need For Admiration

A narcissist’s excessive need for admiration, validation and reassurance, also known as narcissistic supply, is nauseating. To understand the importance of narcissistic supply, take a moment to think about how valuable inhalers are for those who are having an asthma attack.  

The inhaler gets medicine directly to someone’s lungs and helps relax the muscles around the airways of the person having the asthma attack so that they can breathe smoothly again. Narcissistic supply serves the exact same purpose for narcissists that inhalers do for those having asthma attacks. 

Narcissistic supply helps a narcissist compartmentalize all of their negative emotions, suppress them deep within their psyche, and hide them behind a falsified identity. Without narcissistic supply, a narcissist’s negative emotions would resurface and cause them to experience a tremendous amount of narcissistic injuries. 

Suggested Reading: What Causes Narcissistic Injuries?

Without narcissistic supply a narcissist would emotionally implode on themselves because they’re so emotionally inadequate that they’re incapable of regulating the tidal wave of negative emotions that they have suppressed within their psyche which is why they relentlessly pursue the validation, admiration, and reassurance of others. 

We suggest that you try to explain a narcissist’s excessive need for validation, admiration, and reassurance by bluntly talking about their relentless pursuit of supply but zeroing in on their reaction when they don’t get it.

How to explain a narcissist's excessive need for admiraiton

How to Explain a Narcissist’s Sense of Entitlement

The best manifestation of a narcissist’s sense of entitlement that you can use to explain narcissism to others is how a narcissist demands your attention at all times. You should be careful when explaining this personality trait of a narcissist because if you explain it in a way that focuses on their need for validation, admiration, and reassurance, the narcissist could victimize themselves by spinning a convincing sob story about how someone hurt them in the past and that is why they are the way that they are. 

A better approach would be to explain how irritated they get when you do important things for yourself, specifically around your own well-being. In a very twisted and insecure way, narcissists feel entitled to being “better” than others. They get extremely jealous and angry when they’re in the presence of others who are doing “better” than them and this type of behavior bleeds into their relationships. 

For example, a narcissist might lash out at you for getting a promotion at work, accuse you of cheating for working out and getting back in shape, or even get angry at you for prioritizing the well-being of your children over them. It’s a peculiar aspect of narcissism but when explained correctly it will help you turn enablers into supporters.

how to explain narcissism to others by using their sense of entitlement

How to Explain a Narcissist’s Interpersonally Exploitative Behavior

Someone who displays interpersonally exploitative behavior is always trying to take advantage of those around them. This type of person lacks empathy, they’re inconsiderate, and consistently disregard the emotional and physical safety of others. 

Narcissists do this on a daily basis but the best approach to explaining this personality trait to someone who doesn’t understand narcissism is to focus on their willingness to use your vulnerabilities and insecurities against you. 

How to explain a narcissists interpersonally explosive behavior to others

How to Explain a Narcissist’s Lack of Empathy to Others

Empathy is the attempt or desire to understand the emotional experience of another person. It is having the ability to be present in a conversation that is not about your thoughts, feelings, emotions, or needs. 

Empathy is about going the extra mile for someone else, accepting others for who they are, and protecting the vulnerabilities and insecurities that others have trusted you with. 

Empathy is something that a narcissist will never have. 

We strongly recommend that you focus on a narcissist’s tendency to not be there for you when you need them even though you are always there for them when they need you. A narcissist will strategically use empathy to manipulate their victims into doing what they want so you’ll often notice that a narcissist will only support you when it serves their needs. 

how to explain a narcissist's lack of empathy towards others

How to Explain a Narcissist’s Envy of Others and Belief that Others Envy Them

In the narcissistic realm, jealousy is a force to be reckoned with. Narcissists have such a fragile sense of self that extremely challenging feelings and emotions, like being jealous of others, trigger all of their suppressed negative emotions like shame, a sense of inadequacy, a fear of abandonment, and an intense hatred for one’s self. 

When explaining this aspect of narcissism to others it is important to remember that you are not explaining specific moments that a narcissist was jealous, you’re explaining their response to jealousy. 

It is also important to be aware of the fact that the emotional inadequacy of a narcissist enables them to make everyday occurrences something to be jealous about. For example, a non-narcissistic male might be jealous if his girlfriend was hit on by a guy at the gym but a narcissist would be jealous if his girlfriend even went to the gym in the first place.

how to explain a narcissists envy to others

When it comes to explaining a narcissist’s belief that others envy them, you have to be careful. The reason being that narcissists are often successful and in positions that others are envious of. If you were to come on too strong then you could come off as jealous yourself. The safest bet here is to focus on how they constantly devalue and invalidate the success of others. 

How to Explain a Narcissist’s Demonstration of Arrogant and Haughty Behaviors or Attitudes

Arrogant and haughty behaviors is an interesting aspect of narcissism. The reason being is that they are a combination of a grandiose sense of self-importance, a sense of entitlement, and a need for power and control over others. The clearest manifestation of a narcissist’s arrogance that you should use to explain narcissism to others is their sense of superiority. 

With that being said, you do have to be careful when trying to explain this particular trait with narcissists who are successful or good at what they do. As a society we often allow arrogance for people who have “earned” it. 

What we mean by this is that in our society it’s much more acceptable for a multimillionaire to be arrogant than it is for an entrepreneur just starting out. So, just be careful about your approach to make sure you don’t come off as jealous, arrogant, or anything else that the narcissist and the extensions of the narcissist can use against you. 

how to explain a narcissist's arrogance to others

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

Explaining narcissism to others is not an easy task. It takes a lot of knowledge, patience, and hard work to successfully pull off. However, if you follow the advice that we’ve provided above, you’ll be in a much better position to turn narcissist enablers into supporters.


All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.