How you know you’re not the narcissist: your proof

8 minute read

‘How do I know I’m not the narcissist???’ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this frantic question. But let me tell you. Asking yourself this is a testament to the fact that the narcissist is inside your head, and the abuse is working.

It’s also clear evidence that you are simply not a narcissist.

Reading these few words isn’t going to convince you though, right?

I’m guessing that for you to be asking yourself this, your journey of recovery has progressed to the point where you’ve done a heap of reading on narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

You’re at the stage where you have a solid handle on the disorder, its symptoms, and the manipulation strategies used in narcissistic abuse.

This must be the case or you wouldn’t be worried that you are narcissistic, as the phenomenon and associated behaviours wouldn’t mean all that much to you right now.

With all the information you’ve gathered, and more importantly because of the narcissist’s brainwashing about who and what you are, the question niggles at you…you are scanning yourself, your behaviours, things you’ve done and haven’t done that could just be classified as narcissistic…and here you are slap bang in the middle of freakoutsville.

Freakoutsville, how do I know I'm not the narcissist?

This article assumes these two things: 1) that you are pretty clear on NPD (for terminology refreshers check out the Glossary), and 2) the thought of being a narc scares the crap out of you.

Here is your big dose of logic that YOU ARE NOT THE NARC!

Reasons you ask “How do I know I’m not the narcissist?”


The methods the narcissist uses to erode your understanding and belief in who you are, are all focused on breaking your spirit, and to maintain power and control over you. They do this for several reasons.

The first is to feed their addiction which is to secure external confirmation of their beliefs. This drives the need for constant reinforcement from you (and all that surround them) that they are superior, special, omnipotent, and entitled to all they desire in this world. This is the ‘supply’ the narcissist needs to survive.

The second key reason is to ensure your disempowerment. After all, so long as you feel this way, you believe you are trapped in the relationship with them.

It also means that your resistance to satisfying their addiction by meeting all their demands, is low to nil. Supplying the narc becomes your priority, as it is and always will be theirs.

Enter gaslighting which we will consider for now to be all the manipulations employed to achieve your disempowerment. These are the tools used to brainwash you into believing you cannot trust your understanding of reality, or your mental health.

When you are in this space you have essentially lost all trust in yourself. You are fully disempowered.

This is precisely where they want you. Doubting all you know of yourself and reality is the foundation needed for the narc to get away with pretty much anything.


During devaluation, brainwashing tactics come at you hard and fast. Let’s zoom in on a few to see how the narc plants the seed in your mind that you are the narcissist (and waters in well, with lots of fertiliser for vigorous growth).

1.Projection: Denial underpins all narcissist defence mechanisms to protect the false self from confronting any truth about reality. The narcissist unable to accept that they have any flaws, uses projection as a defence mechanism to attribute what is unacceptable in themselves, onto you.

This of course means that narcissistic traits are regularly cited as your defects. Examples of  your listed shortcomings might include ‘you’re so selfish’, ‘you think everything should be about you’, ‘you’re so manipulative’ etc.

2. Blaming you: Similarly, the narcissist cannot accept any responsibility for any negative behaviours. A preferred ‘go to’ when attempts are made to hold the narc to account is to blame you for the issues raised.

In this scenario, you will get a dose of projection (i.e.: a diatribe about your narcissistic traits) being the cause of their behaviour. For instance, ‘you made me look elsewhere at other men/women. If you weren’t so abusive/controlling/focused on yourself, I wouldn’t have needed to’.

3. The ‘poor me’ routine, used:

a) with you to reinforce doubts as to who is the abusive party and triggering both your empathy for them, and fear of retribution if you do not amp up your supply; and

b) in smear campaigns with others, also used to obtain sympathy for them as the ‘injured party’ and to garner support that you just might be the narcissist.

clarity on how do I know I'm not the narcissist

You get the idea.

It’s becoming a little clearer now isn’t it?

But still you ask, yes but ‘How do I know I’m not the narcissist? I mean 100% know.’

Test of intentionality

So, here’s the thing.

Believe it or not, asking yourself ‘how do I know I’m not the narcissist’ signifies the fog of brainwashing is lifting. Of necessity, this comes hand in hand with the realisation that the person you’re in a relationship (or were in) with is abusive and potentially has NPD.

You are now able to recognise what is what. You are a victim of narcissistic abuse. And you rightly hold the narc responsible for abusing you.

You have been through hell. Pure and simple. It may come slowly, but eventually you will also most likely feel the need to share your story with those you trust as part of your healing journey.

The power of narcissistic abuse is tenacious. You reflect on these things and come full circle…doubt creeps in once again. ‘Hang on a minute’ you think, ‘aren’t I doing exactly the same things as the narc? Projecting, blaming, and seeking sympathy from loved ones?’…’who’s to say that they are wrong and I am right, what’s the difference here??’…aaaaaargh, ‘how do I know I’m not the narcissist?’

How do I know I'm not the narcissist

The big tell gorgeous one, is your intention contrasted with theirs.

Quick recap. The narc’s intent in projecting, blaming, and using the ‘poor me routine’ is to disempower you, and brainwash you into questioning reality, and your mental health.

Now consider where you are coming from.

You believe you have suffered narcissistic abuse, and the responsibility for this is entirely the narc’s, because these are facts.

You share your story because you need to be heard after being silenced for so long. It is also how you receive the validation you desperately need to begin recovering from the annihilation you’ve suffered.

You are speaking your truth, the reality, in order to heal.

BIG difference. HUGE.

Test of logic

Still not sold? OK here we go.

You know you’re not the narc because…

1. Asking yourself ‘How do I know I’m not the narcissist’ means you are concerned you might be. Ummmm, YEESSSS!!! I hear you say frustratedly…maybe a little crossly…

My point lies in the word ‘concerned’. Feeling this way necessarily means that for you, the idea of feeling entitled to cause pain by controlling, demeaning, and manipulating others with the end goal of stripping them of all power and sense of worth, is well, abhorrent.

2. Furthermore, your concern indicates understanding of a) how awful the behaviour is, and b) the impact that it has on victims. For you to comprehend these concepts, indeed, to feel them, you must have empathy. As you know, the true narcissist is void of empathy.

3. Your repulsion at the possibility of behaving as a narcissist, of course means that you do not want to be this way. It is therefore fair to consider that the disgust would be a massive motivation to change.

growth and self-reflectionFor growth to occur, certain conditions must be met in addition to the will to change. The first of these involves giving honest critical thought to your actions and behaviours. The second is the identification and ownership of the undesirable behaviours you wish to transform. Let’s call this self-reflection. Pursuing an answer to the question ‘How do I know I’m not the narcissist?’ is an act of self-reflection (which by the way, you are doing right now…).

In living a life where a false-self has taken over, the narcissist functions through denial. Both reality and the true self have been set aside. The narc is thus incapable of many aspects required for critical self-reflection and consequently growth. It is antithetical to the narcissistic modus operandi on multiple levels. A belief system that clings to the conviction of being superior over all others, simply does not allow for these possibilities.

By definition, individuals with NPD are incapable of considering they are anything less than superior to all others; feel no sense of personal responsibility; and have no empathy for others. These traits render the need for self-reflection redundant. There is no need after all to review or change, what is already perfect.

4. In conducting your self-reflection, you will come across behaviours and actions that make you uncomfy, things you won’t be fully proud of in your time with the narcissist. Things you may compare to narcissistic traits, for example rage, jealousy, aggressiveness etc.

Gorgeous one. Pause.

Think of what you have been through. Hell. Can anyone go through hell and not react? No. They can’t.

You can accept you are not perfect right? Your ego does allow for this. So forgive yourself now for your humanity, and how you have navigated surviving hell.

BOOM – you are not the narcissist. No way. No how.

Remembering who you are

Rest easy. Shoosh that voice that keeps asking the question. You know you’re not the narc. Stop giving the narcissist any more of your time or energy by engaging with this ludicrous idea they planted in your mind.

remember who you are: gorgeousUse your precious time and energy on you instead, and in  progressing your recovery. From now on, every time you hear that voice sneaking back in, promise me you will meet it with remembering who you are.

Start now! Read these out loud:

  • ‘I care about others. I am empathic. I am compassionate. These are my gifts.’*
  • ‘I am open and embrace growth. I evolve without fear knowing my heart is good and kind’.
  • ‘I am strong, resourceful and capable of surviving any situation’.
  • ‘I trust in who I am, everything I need lies within me.’

Yeah baby! You are indeed gorgeous.

Please share your insights or questions below. Have you tackled this question? What are your tips for others in holding fast to self-truth? Sharing and encouraging others is so very necessary to help all of us on our journey of recovery – so thank you!

With gratitude,

Maggie x


*I’ve just finished reading Psychopath Free by Jackson Mackenzie – what a magnificent book! It’s super helpful as an intro as to how all cluster B disorders destroy those they are in relationships with. Mackenzie walks through the emotional process of waking up to abuse, and what to expect through recovery.

This is a fairly typical book outline for this topic. Mackenzie’s book has extra specialness. A clear mission surfaces about celebrating the empath, the dreamer, and the gifts these offer the world. Sadly, these are the very qualities often targeted by narcs. So I just know that this book will speak to many of you out there and remind you to protect and treasure what makes you so very wonderful.

Also, Mackenzie at times writes like a poet (a humorous one!) which makes reading this challenging topic for victims a softer experience than the more common clinical/dry style found in similar titles. Loved it.

(Note – if using link/s provided to purchase, you’ll receive free shipping and title heavily discounted. You’ll also be supporting my work in providing you free resources on this site, by earning a very small commission, at no extra cost to you – thank you 😊)


33 thoughts

  1. Wow, makes sence. Have had screwed over 50 yrs but all i knew. They all deny or take responsibility for their ampathy.

    1. Dear someone, they certainly do deny everything! Let this moment now, be the turning point for you – no more being screwed over! Look after you someone x

  2. This is good to read. I have recently been told that I don’t live in the real world, that I do absolutely nothing, that things I like are just hobbies and are not real life, that I say ‘ I love you’ too much and it spoils it for him when I say it for real, that if it were not for him I would be homeless, that he has to do everything, because I can’t do anything, that I have no life. He ripped everything about me to pieces and expected me to be all jolly and happy and got even more angry when I was crying. this episode ( just the tip of the iceberg) has left me feeling traumatised and has given me nightmares ( that I am sleeping on the streets in a sleeping bag) and I am doubting myself, not sure what is real life or not real life. Am I some kind of hideous misfit ? He says I am miserable and can’t take a joke and beacause I have breasts I do not understand ‘banter’ And there is never ever any apology from him either, never has been. Its been 23 years. I can’t walk away, I have lovely kids and 2 beautiful dogs, I would lose them all.
    Thank you, I shall read this again and again til it sinks in. I do realise that the only thing I can change is myself and can fill the empty shell that I feel I have become, in time. Its not pleasant and quite sad that someone can make you feel like THE worst person in the whole world.

    1. Dear Helen,
      What do you think? Do you think you are a hideous misfit? What do you believe of yourself? The answers to these questions are by far, the most important ones. And not the answers you would give in your sadness and pain, from the place of hurt you hold because of your husband, but the answers you would give from your place of either anger or deep peace. This is where your truth lies. You are not an empty shell, you’ve just lost that connection with your truth. Find your truth once more and you will be free from the words of others being able to make you feel like the worst person in the whole world.
      P.S. My hot tips for you on your truth hunting journey are: a) saying “I love you” too much, is not a thing; and b) neither is attributing good humour to the absence of gender specific anatomical parts. Maggie x

      1. Thank you very much dear Maggie, esp for your hot tips 🙂 it will not be time wasted working out the answers, I may know them already. Your writings have helped me make a small start already.
        Thanks again and all the best xxx

      2. I agree – I think you do know the answers already :). You’ve got this. Maggie x

  3. I left my narc nearly two years ago. He is in prison now, so I am technically “safe”, but I still live in constant fear and questioning of my own morality. As I read this article, I found myself needing to re-read certain sentences to solidify their existence to myself! Thank you!! I will keep this article close, and read repeatedly until every word ingrains itself. I finally feel like my eyes are open, and I am not the enemy. Thank you thank YOU!!!

    1. Dear Cassia – do not fear your morality! I tend to think for those of us who care about our morality, we can rest easy knowing conscience will always make sure we do our best in living to the standards we value. Sure we will stuff up, but we will grow from mistakes trusting that our inner compass will show us the way. Rest easy lovely, trust in you. Maggie x

    1. Oh hon, I hope they are tears of relief or validation. I just felt a pang of hurt & sadness reading your words. I’m so sorry for the place you are in right now. Look after you Sarah, Maggie x

    2. Made me cry too. I think it’s because the words rang true in my heart, where so few have, and my soul hungered for someone to not only believe in me, but to champion me as well. Thank you, Maggie.

      1. Dear Tracy, I am so very glad you’ve found some comfort in my words. Equally, yours mean so much to me. What you describe is precisely what drives me. Thank you. Sending you big joy Tracy, Maggie x

  4. Dear Maggie,

    Thank you soooo much for this article. I must admit I was keep asking myself and blaming if I somehow I am not the narc. The worst of all is that I keep wondering that my husband would be a narc. But I had been to hell, I was thinking about suicide and all of that because he was telling me I destroy my kids, I am mean and aggresive. It’s hell to live thinking that you destroy your kids, that you do harm when all you want is to be good and offer all you find good in yourself.

    But, with God help I think, only with His help, I succeded to stand up from my bathroom floor and to promise myself that I will NEVER be down there again!

    Two months ago, I discover that narcissism is a disorder and what it means. Reading about it was like a waking up but reading about what the person in relationship with a narc is passing through is a revelation.

    I must admit I still can’t belive that this is happening to me, most of all because we have 3 kids and I have no ideea how can I protect them and what is best for them.

    But, in the same way that happend until now, I hope that time and God will gove me the proper answers. Thank you SO MUCH!
    God bless you!

    1. Dear Cris,
      Let me thank YOU so much. Your words “I succeded to stand up from my bathroom floor and to promise myself that I will NEVER be down there again” gave me goosebumps.
      You say that you don’t know how to protect your children or what is best for them or what the proper answers are, but I don’t believe you.
      I do believe that you are all you need, and that all the answers to work through your challenges are right there inside you.
      The goosebumps were from hearing your massive strength roaring through your words of pain.
      I suspect you are only coming to grips now with all the strength and courage and goodness you have inside you. (Of course you are! You’ve been told you are the opposite for too long it seems). So let me join your own sweet self who is telling you from deep within that you are strong, courageous and good – and say I agree. You’ve got this. You’ve got you and your children.
      God bless you also Cris. You are inspiring. Maggie x

  5. I was told over and over that I was the Narc. I didn’t even know what one was! I just thought it was an egotistical person. She told me I needed to go to counseling so I did. After 2 sessions the counselor told me “Bryan, I have worked with many Narcs and you are NOT a Narc! Just the fact that you are here questioning yourself shows that you aren’.t What you need is couples counseling!” So that’s what we did. At the end of it all my counselor said “Bryan she is broken! She treats you horribly! She has no ability to rationally deal with conflict resolution! It’s either fight or flee! There are people out there that don’t act like this! It doesn’t have to be this hard!” My counselor was actually feeling pain for me. I thought she was going to cry! This is when I started hitting the web and realized that my love was a Covert Narc! The break up has been the hardest thing of my life! I truly loved the good side of her but the bad was BAD! The trauma bonding is real and getting off the drug and PTSD has been tough. No contact and run is the only answer!

    1. Dear Bryan – hurrah! There is such hope, joy and life in your message – it is so uplifting! Of course, I fully hear you and feel you on the devastatingly difficult challenges that do exist in breaking free. You hit the nail on the head: the trauma bonding, the ‘getting dry’, and the PTSD are HARD. Yet, the hardness of healing these wounds ain’t nothing compared to remaining exposed to the poison. Good for you Bryan, I’m sending you buckets of joy and freedom, take care of you! Maggie x

  6. I couldn’t understand why there was absolutely no emotion in how my sons (her former stepsons) and I were being devalued and discarded so easily after almost 6 years of marriage, and how she can call me a monster for none of us wanting her to remain a part of our lives after walking out on us, and trying to take their home away in the divorce. we were making love in Paris every day less than 30 days before she told me that she doesn’t love me, isn’t in love with me, and hasn’t loved me in a very long time. i learned about codependency and what a covert narcissist is and it all made perfect sense. i went no contact for two months and then had a momentary lapse in judgment and during the ensuing period of time she told me that I was the narcissist. i’m so glad I found your blog post.

    1. Dear Trevor, I’m so glad you found in the post too, the sense that I think this means you know who you are once more: not a narc. I’m sorry for all you’ve been through, your heart must be quite sore at the moment. Perhaps awakening to the reality of what you have you experienced may help with healing your heart. I’d love to hear how you are going, and send you light and love on your journey to joy and freedom. Maggie x

  7. Its been since Nov 13, 2017, when after 6 years of insanity, he raged, pushed me so hard in was knocked unconscious. Of course all the devaluing and blaming preceded that and was nonstop for 2 years. I didn’t go to the ER until the following day. He was arrested and the case is still pending. His plea is not guilty and thru a friend swears he will go to a jury trial and get this dismissed. He’s truly insane. The county in which this occurred is super tough on dom v. I have pics and text messages saved and even a solid terrorist threat sent via text that I have not disclosed to the DA as I almost feel sorry for him. I feel if I stay quite (as usual) I’m not doing myself any favors and boy oh boy…I deserve to be favored. He’s higher than thou and above the law…along with making me out to be the crazy one? NO. I am not crazy. I’m a caring loving woman who thought my love could save this (sometimes) gentle man. He gave me a concussion and walked away…not even knowing whether or not I was DEAD. I’ve never had a man put hands on me and THAT crap will never happen to me again. I’m angry and lashing out at many of my friends. I’m just so angry at my decision to stick by this monster, walking in faith that he wanted to change…In seeking EMDR therapy due to the PTSD aspect of this trauma. I will be fine. Better than fine. I’m now aware. And that’s all one can hope for – – preventing the bad decisions in losing sense of self. Damn I’m BLESSED for that!

    1. Dear Sue, thank you for sharing your story.
      I am so sorry for what you have been through, it is such a relief to know you are now safe from this man now. My goodness woman, the power and strength behind the words in your message are so inspiring. I hear you with the rage you are carrying (you can read more about this in Why is it so hard to leave an abusive relationship with a narcissist? if you you’re interested). Right now, your rage is your friend, it is your truth coming up and out, when this has been squished down for too long. I’m glad you are seeking therapy support and you are investing in you to work through these experiences and the PTSD. Enough has been given to this man, time to reclaim all your freedom & joy.
      I completely agree with you: You are a caring and loving woman. You are not crazy. You are fine. You are aware. And you are blessed.
      Look after you with all you’ve got. Sending you light & love, Maggie x

  8. Thank you thank you and thank you this is beautifully executed , informative relatable and conforting. I am greatful for your insight.

    1. Dear J. Thank you for taking the time to share with me your very generous words. To know that my words have helped makes my soul sing. On the other hand, Honey, I am so sorry that you needed to hear words of comfort because this means you find yourself in this heart rending situation. May I also say, just clapping eyes on your very few words, tells me louder than any megaphone would, you are not narcissistic. Despite your pain, you took the time to share your gratitude and kind words with me. These are not, nor ever will be, the actions of a narc. J, I send you all the good stuff that would support you in finding all that you long for. Love and light to you, Maggie x

  9. Thank you thank you THANK YOU!!!
    I’m a 58yo male that is being used by a 34yo female narc.
    Everything I’ve read (and been a ton over last two months) narc was males, and along with her I was scared I was the narc.
    I NOW!! Realize I am not and need to break ties move on, (easy said than done). Again thank you for opening my eyes, and my heart.
    I’ve read this article 3 times. Everytime I have doubt I read it again.
    Thank you

    1. Dear Jerry of the open eyes and heart :),
      I’m so sorry you feel you are being used. And by someone you are intimately involved with. Not only this, but with someone who has sought to convince you you are someone other than who you are. How terribly heartbreaking.
      I’m so very glad that you have made the decision to find a happier situation for yourself having realised what isn’t working for you.
      No! Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not gender specific! NPD tends to be present a little more in males than females, and I suspect that more female writers are out there on the topic, which probably explains the skew you see. It must be disheartening to read so much content framed in this way! You keep looking after your heart Jerry. You’ve got this. Sending you light & love, Maggie x

  10. I was told how I feel. I was called selfish and “it’s all about you.” I was gas lit, love bombed and manipulated for my entire marriage. Reading this has given me some much needed insight because I did question myself. I was beaten or punched whenever she drank and was blamed for it. Clothes were destroyed, glasses broke etc. I became enraged and ended up isolating because of the daily fighting. When I sought help for us, I couldn’t tell the truth or I was disloyal to her. I was blamed for everything she did and it was beginning to drive me crazy. Daily projections made me question my own sanity. I remember telling her ,”you’re breaking my spirit.” The response was always,”stop making it always about you.” The last straw was making me choose between her and my children from my previous marriage. She had me believe that I couldn’t love her if they were a part of our life. Thank God my children forgave me for not seeing them for 10 months. The price I’m paying now? She had me arrested for threatening her. Through counseling I’m realizing that when someone devalues you, crushes your spirit, tells you who you are and manipulates your very being that who wouldn’t lash out with threats? Who wouldn’t become enraged? I’ve also learned that is exactly what the narc wants is a negative reaction so they can blame you and make you look and feel crazy. My advice? If you’re in a relationship with a narc get out safely while you still have an ounce of self respect, self worth and sanity. They will drive you to do things that you don’t believe you were capable of doing.

    1. Dear Anonymous, there is so much anguish in your words. I’m so sorry for your pain. I could be way off base, but your words tell me you are feeling such shame.

      This isn’t something that seems to be spoken of much in the narcissistic abuse community, I think some may get confused that this is some form of victim blaming rather than a very real, powerful and destructive symptom of being abused leading to not much talk on this front.
      It’s an area we should all start speaking more on. Brene Brown said “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive”. We must find our voices! I wrote about shame in Why is it so hard to leave an abusive relationship with a narcissist?.

      Obviously speaking your truth is what you are doing withing counselling which is wonderful. My little rant here about the impact of shame and how to conquer it is really to say a) I get it – I get the yuck feelings that may be swirling inside now and the challenges of coming to grips with things you wouldn’t ordinarily do, nor are necessarily proud of – you & I are not alone in feeling this way, it is a product of what has been endured; and c) trust that you are now on the path to setting yourself free, you are doing the work, you will get there.
      You have been through hell dear Anonymous from what you describe. And you survived. When in survival mode, not one single one of us acts from a place of groundedness nor safety. We do what we do to get by. And you did. There is gratitude to be found for yourself in that. Sending you huge healing light and love. Maggie x

    2. “that is exactly what the narc wants is a negative reaction so they can blame you and make you look and feel crazy.” That is so true! Know that you are not alone. We have all had to get this education the hard way. But also know that this knowledge will eventually set you free and keep you from making the same mistake again!

      1. Good for you Bryan, thank you for your words of encouragement & wisdom – I have no doubt they are appreciated 🙂 Maggie x

  11. I’m at a point where I know I want away from my narc, but have always had the weakness of worrying more about others than myself and being overly receptive to his needs. I found this after yet another argument where everything turned back around on me and how I don’t care about his needs and everything is my fault. What I hate most about narc abuse is that, in the moment, everything they say to you makes sense and you feel how they want you to feel; then you walk away and see it’s bull but still have that doubt in yourself. Reading things like this helps me keep my feet on the ground and reassure myself I’m not crazy.

    1. Dear ChelseaHunnieBee, I’m glad you have found reassurance here. You sound like you are a very grounded person anyway! What insight: “in the moment, everything they say to you makes sense and you feel how they want you to feel; then you walk away and see it’s bull but still have that doubt in yourself” – this encapsulates narcissistic abuse so very well. I have no doubt you will get to wherever you want to be, including being away from your narc as you say. Maybe you could switch for a while and be more receptive to your needs than others and see what happens? Big light & love to you ChelseaHunnieBee, Maggie x

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