How to avoid becoming a Midlife Narcissist
1 Aug 2022

How to avoid becoming a Midlife Narcissist

Do Narcissists go through a Midlife Crisis? Yes, and horrifically, it’s a perpetual one.

In Midlife many people can experience a sense of underachievement and that they have not achieved enough in their lives and by now should be doing better, have more stuff, an overflowing pension pot, a bigger house and be higher up the career ladder.

How to avoid becoming a Midlife Narcissist

Someone with a narcissistic personality disorder rarely rocks up to the therapy room as the last thing they want to do is reflect on their life, admit that they may have made some wrong choices and be self-critical.

Narcissists have an over exaggerated sense of self and inflated ego and think they are entitled to be treated in a special, superior way. They can be charismatic, lack empathy for others and have controlling tendencies – that’s why in therapy, often they are referred to as ‘Charming Manipulators’.

What many people don’t realise is that at the core of the narcissist is the original wound usually received in childhood, when they were shamed and humiliated in such a way that makes it impossible for them to feel comfortable about who they are and to feel good about themselves.

As a result of this wound, they require all the trappings associated with success (good looking partner, flash car, expensive suit, Birkin handbag, titled job role) to make them feel better about themselves. Every day in the life of a narcissist is spent trying to fight off feelings of unworthiness and underachievement, though they would never let this show. It’s like a perpetual midlife crisis. It is never addressed, never worked through and so as the saying goes; that which we ignore we are doomed to repeat.

Now in a midlife crisis, a person who isn’t a narcissist can feel pretty crap about themselves and that they have underachieved and not reached their full potential. So, what can you do about it?

Well firstly, you’ll need to address the unhappiness and not ignore it. You will also have to have a bit of a trawl through your life and try and pinpoint decisions or incidents that did not serve you and take responsibility for them– this is the bit that narcissists avoid. By acknowledging our mistakes and the reasoning behind them we make the choices we made consciously which gives us a great opportunity to not do the same again.

We set goals in life at quite a young age, even if they are not said out loud, we have ideas about the sort of person we expect to become, the family we might have, the size of house we’ll live in, the job we will do and the money we’ll earn. Many of these goals are set before we have much experience of the real world and how challenging it can be before we know how the industry works, and also before we really set our moral compass and decide how we want to live our life and ‘be’ in the world, which of course can change as we age.

So, in order to not become entrapped in a perpetual cycle of feeling like you have underachieved, I would suggest you revisit and re-examine these unwritten, unsaid goals and see how aligned they actually are with the person you strive to be now, rather than the person you thought you would be back in your teens or early twenties before you really knew yourself. Because you might find that money is no longer a motivator for you but having time and freedom outside of work might be. A big house may no longer be on your radar or a status symbol of success because you value community and sustainability more.

It’s so important to live in the now and ensure you are living according to your present, authentic and up to date values, because then your self-esteem and sense of self will flourish, you won’t get stuck in a perpetual midlife crisis and you will keep yourself out of the therapy room!