A narcissist’s ability to wholeheartedly believe their own lies is one of the most destabilizing parts of narcissistic abuse. You can have all the evidence in the world and they will still be able to look you in the eyes and tell a bold-faced lie that makes you feel paranoid and doubtful of your own perception of reality.
Narcissists have to believe their own lies because they’ve constructed their self-perception out of them. If they didn’t believe their own lies it would trigger all of their suppressed painful emotions and compromise their emotional stability.
This article is going to help you understand the reason that narcissists believe their own lies and highlight the three biggest lies that narcissists believe. We’ve also created a short video (see below) that outlines our article How Can You Tell When a Narcissist Is Lying so you can learn as much information about narcissistic lying from this article as possible!
A Short Video That Teaches You How to Spot a Lying Narcissist
Narcissists Need to Believe Their Own Lies to Protect Their Emotional Stability
As we mentioned before, the reason that narcissists believe their own lies is because they construct their self-perception out of them. The reason that they do this can be traced back to their origin story.
There are many different theories pertaining to the origin of narcissism that we go through in our article How Are Narcissists Made but it is widely believed that narcissism originates from an unhealthy/abusive childhood with emotionally unavailable, inconsistent, and unresponsive primary caregivers.
This level of emotional neglect is the starting point of a narcissist’s ability to construct a self-perception out of their own lies because the neglect prevents them from getting the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they need to construct a realistic sense of self and have a healthy cognitive development.
The emotional neglect that narcissists experienced also caused them to develop many painful emotions about themselves such as a belief that they’re inadequate, unlovable, unwanted, worthless, and weak. This is a huge problem because their unhealthy cognitive development has left them without the emotional skills needed to manage the painful emotions.
What ended up happening is the narcissist figured out how to get validation, admiration, and reassurance from their external environment to construct a false sense of self and then they used their newly constructed sense of self to suppress all of their painful emotions.
This is precisely the moment that narcissists learned how to construct their self-perception out of their own lies because to get the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they needed, they had to create a falsified identity by mirroring society.
When the term “mirroring” comes up in the narcissistic realm, we are usually referring to a narcissist’s ability to absorb a ton of information about their victim’s identity and use that information to create a falsified identity that portrays them as “perfect” to the victim.
Suggested Reading: How Do Narcissists Use Mirroring?
However, narcissists also use mirroring on a much larger scale to create a falsified identity that society finds acceptable so they can get validation, admiration, and reassurance.
In other words, narcissists suppress their true identity because they believe it to be inadequate, unlovable, weak, worthless, and unwanted. Then they replace it with a falsified identity that they’ve constructed by mirroring society.
The series of lies that narcissists go through to construct a falsified identity allows them to create a self-perception that they can use as a primary form of emotional regulation to suppress their painful emotions AND it gives them access to an unlimited amount of narcissistic supply from their external environment.
A narcissist’s self-perception and their ability to maintain that self-perception with the validation, admiration, and reassurance, also known as narcissistic supply, that they can get from their external environment are two monstrous elements of their emotional stability. If a narcissist weren’t to believe the lies that created them, their painful emotions would destroy their emotional stability.
What Are the Three Biggest Lies That Narcissists Believe?
The three biggest lies that narcissists believe are their public persona, their core personality traits, and their perception of reality. All three lies coincide with one another and originate from their emotionally neglectful childhood upbringing.
Their Public Persona
A narcissist’s “public persona” is the falsified identity that they’ve constructed by mirroring society to accumulate as much narcissistic supply as possible. Generally speaking, a narcissist’s public persona is charming, successful, innocent, honest, desirable, goodhearted, charismatic, and virtuous.
The interesting part about a narcissist’s public persona is that it is designed to convince others and themselves. Remember, narcissists do not have the emotional skills that are required to manage their painful emotions.
So they use the self-perception that they’ve constructed out of the narcissistic supply to suppress all of their painful emotions deep within their own psyche. If they were to doubt their own public persona, they’d be consumed by their own painful emotions.
Their Core Personality Traits
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), there are nine personality traits that are associated with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD):
- 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
The 4 personality traits that we want to bring to your attention are a grandiose sense of self-importance, a belief that they’re special/unique, a belief that others are envious of them, and a sense of entitlement.
The narcissistic supply that narcissists get for maintaining a charming, successful, innocent, honest, desirable, goodhearted, charismatic, and virtuous public persona is made possible by their belief in their grandiose sense of self-importance, specialness, uniqueness, and entitlement.
To best understand this you have to look at it like you would a child because of how emotionally immature narcissists are. Children are naturally grandiose. If you spoil a child, they are going to develop a grandiose sense of self-importance, specialness, uniqueness, and entitlement.
When a narcissist gets a consistent flow of validation, admiration, and reassurance from society, they are being spoiled and all it does is feed their delusional belief of a grandiose sense of self-importance, specialness, uniqueness, and entitlement.
Much like their public persona, it is important for narcissists to maintain this belief because it allows them to consistently get the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they need to keep their painful emotions suppressed.
Their Perception of Reality
The combination of a narcissist’s belief in their public persona and core personality traits allows them to create a reality that is designed to protect their self-perception. This falsified reality is the origin of the most powerful narcissistic behavior pattern out there, gaslighting.
Gaslighting occurs when a narcissist doubts or denies reality on a regular basis. When they are in a situation where their falsified perception of reality is being challenged or contradicted, they simply doubt or deny the facts to protect their self-perception.
For example, imagine that you were on a date with a narcissist and they said something that was extremely offensive to someone else. In their mind, they have a right to say whatever they want to say because of how important, special, and unique they believe they are.
If you were to call them out on their comments (e.g. “What you said was extremely offensive and rude, you should apologize.”) you would trigger their suppressed painful emotions by contradicting their grandiose sense of self-importance, specialness, and uniqueness.
To protect their emotional stability from their painful emotions, they rely on manipulative techniques like gaslighting to deny reality. To do this, they might say something like:
- “You’re just a really sensitive person, you need to relax.”
- “Okay. I didn’t say that, you’re putting words in my mouth.”
- “Oh you need to stop being so self-righteous, jeez!”
- “Well, that is your truth but it is not mine.”
- “It’s not that big of a deal! Why are you making such a big deal out of this? Just get over it already!”
- “I was just teasing him/her, lighten up a bit weirdo.”
- “You never say what you do wrong so stop criticizing my every move.”
- “Is that really how you think of me? I can’t believe that you are so willing to hurt my feelings.”
- “How could you accuse me of this?”
- “You need to be on my side with this or we’re done.”
Gaslighting is a massive part of narcissistic abuse so we highly recommend that you read our articles Why Do Narcissists Gaslight, 6 Powerful Examples of Gaslighting In Narcissistic Relationships, and How to Regain Your Sanity After Being Gaslighted? (Helpful Tips From Survivors) to learn more about it!
Gaslighting plays a crucial role in a narcissist’s ability to maintain a perception of reality that supports their self-perception. When narcissists expose the people that they abuse to it on a regular basis, they are able to manipulate them into questioning their own sanity, mistrusting their own perception of reality, and becoming dependent on the narcissist to construct an “accurate” perception of reality.
What Should You Take Away From This Article?
The reason that narcissists believe their own lies is because they have to. Their lies are the only thing keeping their self-perception intact. If they were to acknowledge their own lies it would destroy their self perception and allow their suppressed painful emotions to compromise their emotional stability. The lies that narcissists tell play a crucial role in their emotional stability.
About the Author
Hey, I’m Elijah.
I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years.
I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.
Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.
Leve, Ariel. “How to survive gaslighting: when manipulation erases your reality.” The Guardian (2017).