Narcissists and Emotions
Narcissists seem to have absolutely no emotional intelligence, inside themselves or with the world around them. The general consensus is that they have no understanding of basic human emotion, especially other people’s emotions. They continuously stomp all over your feelings and don’t show an ounce of care about it. They can talk harshly and callously one minute and be confused as to why you don’t want to make love with them the very next minute. Even when you try to explain it to them, they seem completely incapable of connecting the dots. In fact, just trying to talk with them about it can quickly start you on a never-ending downward spiral of verbal abuse. And again, the next day, it all just disappears, as though it never even happened.
My own teenage son once said to me, “Dad only has two states of emotion, anger or zombie. It’s all I ever see on him.” Genuine happiness, healthy pride in his sons, peaceful conversation with a glass of wine on the patio, these are non-existent. Other emotions that never show up are remorse, regret, compassion, joy, and many more.
I recently watched a video that was extremely helpful to me. It is a youtube video by the Little Shaman titled Stop Explaining to the Narcissist. She explains that the narcissists actually see the world through their own emotions. It just happens to be though that those emotions are generally quite negative and out of control. The narcissist views their own emotions as fact and completely reliable. So if they are feeling negative, which is most of the time, they will see whatever you are doing as negative. If you offer to wash their car, they will find a reason not to trust that. It must mean that you want something, because you can’t be doing it simply out of kindness.
Not only do they question your current actions and words, but those in the past too. An event from the past that might have been fine at the time can become yet another point of trouble in a heartbeat. I’ll give you a personal example. One year for our wedding anniversary, my husband took me to a beautiful restaurant. It was converted from an old farm building out in the country. It was gorgeous. I ordered duck, and that was fantastic! Conversation stayed positive, and we had a very enjoyable evening. We desperately needed some positive time together. I told him several times how much I enjoyed it. He also seemed light-hearted and happy, and I was very glad. I thought we had a great evening, and I genuinely thanked him.
A few days later, however, we were back in one of those circular conversations. You know, the ones where you find yourself defending everything you have ever done or said. He was on the attack over everything he could think of. To my surprise, he told me that I didn’t even appreciate the dinner he took me on the other night. “What are you talking about?” I asked. He responded, “You didn’t like the food, you didn’t like the conversation, you didn’t like the restaurant….you were just unhappy the whole time.” This was a shock to me. I really liked the restaurant and the food. I really appreciated that he kept conversation positive and upbeat. I so badly needed an enjoyable evening out with him.
When I watched this video by Little Shaman, this situation made sense to me now. In her words, “Events viewed through the lense of emotion are altered by the narcissist in order to fit the emotion. If they are angry at you, everything you do will be perceived negatively no matter what it is. Even things you did in the past that were okay at the time are now viewed through this lense and found to be evil. The narcissist’s “truth” changes with their emotions.”
My narcissistic husband was not remembering clearly how the evening had gone. He was only viewing it through his current negative emotions. Since right this minute he was angry and upset, then that evening must have been negative too. Everything can turn bad in the blink of an eye, leaving you rather perplexed and confused.
Most people realize that feelings are unreliable, unpredictable and fleeting. Our emotions shift around constantly and sometimes rather abruptly. The way we feel often does not make sense and is not based on thought or logic. Thus we do not rely fully on our feelings to view the world around us. This is not true with narcissists. They rely 100% on their feelings, and those feelings come from a lifetime of internal abuse and negativity. They believe these feelings and thus believe that all of the world is against them. They expect to be treated badly and will find it in every situation. Trying to rationally explain things to them is crazy-making. They are not interested in rational thinking and reality. They only care that their feelings have been hurt, no matter whether that is justified or not.
In essence, due to the enormous amount of internal negativity they carry, narcissists do not know how to feel loved and cared for. They do not know how to have a positive connection with someone. It does not matter whether it is you or someone else. They cannot have that kind of connection with anyone. They simply aren’t capable of it.