I had always known about narcissists, head the term in different contexts. However, I started paying close attention to it and researching it after a close encounter with one of them a few years ago. I had known this person for decades but never realized that they fit the narcissistic category. It was only after I did not rationalize away the red flags and looked deep into the message my instinct had for me, did I realize who was I actually dealing with. Identifying and validating my intuition was an aha moment for me. Since then I have always been curious about them. While learning about narcissism I started noticing how present they are around us in different relationships. For example, a parent, a boss, a partner, a best friend, an in-law, a family member.
If you were to ask me to describe a narcissist in a few words, my words of choice would be self-centered and lacks empathy. They feel like they are very special and unique and should only associate with special people, they have a sense of entitlement. They cannot accept criticism and cannot accept their mistakes. According to Eleanor Payson, the author of The Wizard of Oz and other narcissists, every interaction of a narcissist is governed by a strong sense of entitlement and their incapability of seeing others as individuals with boundaries, needs, feeling, opinions, experiences. They view others as an extension of themselves, they feel entitled to whatever you do for them and are not concerned about reciprocating the same feelings of care and concern that they receive.
The fact is that anyone can fall prey to a narcissists. The following points highlight the reason behind a people pleaser or a caretaker being more prone to it. People pleasing is a type of codependency, and narcissists attract codependents. Codependent behavior is taking care of other people to the point where your own needs and sense of self is lost.
People pleasers self-worth is attached to external validation and approval. They focus all their attention on taking care of other people and narcissists want all the attention on themselves. They give people pleasers just enough approval as long as it coincides with what they want. This keeps them stuck in the never ending loop of trying harder to please and gain approval. The smallest mistake results in rage, anger and criticism.
People pleasers have a hard time setting boundaries, as they are mostly unaware of their own needs. They live life trying to predict want other people want from them and fulfilling those needs. Narcissists have no boundaries of their own and they do not consider other people’s boundaries. In case of the absence of preferences, needs, wants, rights, opinions which help set boundaries a narcissist can completely take over a people pleaser’s sense of self.
Narcissists never take responsibility for their mistakes. Criticism and pointing out their mistake makes them angry. They need someone to take the blame. An individual with a people pleasing personality is so conflict avoidant that they take on the blame to avoid conflict.
A people pleaser tends to put other people in their life up on a pedestal. Narcissists have a grandiose sense of self. They have an outward appearance of confidence and independence. They can be very charming and attractive. People pleasers don’t allow the negative aspects of the narcissist to register for them as they are so taken by the fact that they are accepted by someone like that.
Narcissists believe that they need to be constantly admired as they are above others, it doesn't matter if they have achieved anything or not. People pleasers fulfill this need abundantly. As they have the need to satisfy others needs and seek approval.
Both these personality types fulfill each other’s needs and reinforce the dysfunctional pattern. Breaking out of this requires a lot of work and dedication. It begins with identifying your own patterns as a people pleaser, working toward listening to your intuitions and connecting to your own needs. Both narcissists and people pleasers are not aware of these patterns. Bringing it to the conscious awareness can help people pleasers break the pattern.