A Specialist Unveils 5 Harmful Patterns of Enviously Pathological Narcissists

In a world of selfies and social media fame, the line between confidence and narcissism can sometimes blur. But when narcissism turns pathologically envious, it morphs into a destructive force in relationships, workplaces, and social circles. Here, a specialist dissects five harmful patterns of such individuals, often camouflaged by charisma and success.

By Diana Bernik

Published: Nov 29, 2023

They manipulate and utilize you to boost their image, all the while belittling and ignoring your accomplishments and qualities.

A narcissist exploiting people

Pathological narcissists are masters of utilitarian charm. They weave webs of influence, using others as pawns to elevate their image. You might find yourself invited to events not for your company but for the clout your presence confers. Your successes are only highlighted if they reflect well on them. Otherwise, they're dismissed or appropriated. Ironically, while they use your talents to their advantage, they'll ensure you remain in their shadow, never allowing you to bask in the limelight of your own achievements.

In private, the story often takes a darker turn. They not only ignore your accomplishments—they actively belittle them. In diminishing your successes, they aim to keep your self-esteem just low enough that you don't question their authority or challenge their status. This tactic ensures you remain dependent on their validation, which is sparingly given, keeping you in a perpetual state of striving for approval that's always just out of reach.

An astounding absence of recognition, acknowledgment, or thanks coincided with disdainful over-criticism.

With an enviously pathological narcissist, your best is never good enough. They have an uncanny ability to find fault where others see merit. Their criticism isn't constructive; it's corrosive. Compliments are rare and often backhanded, designed to undermine rather than uplift. This relentless over-criticism is their tool for maintaining control and keeping others in line, perpetuating a belief that they are the ultimate arbiters of worth.

This behavior extends to an almost pathological inability to recognize the contributions of others. Saying 'thank you' seems to be against their nature, as acknowledgment could imply someone else's input is valuable. Their ego cannot fathom a world where others might share the spotlight of competence, so they don't just avoid praise—they actively erase the evidence of anyone else's contributions, ensuring the narrative always centers on their own prowess.

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They continually shift the objectives.

A narcissit exploiting people

Consistency is not a hallmark of the enviously pathological narcissist's playbook. They keep you guessing, shifting the goalposts whenever it suits their agenda. One day, your task is the utmost priority; the next, it's deemed trivial. This constant reevaluation isn't a sign of dynamic thinking; it's a control strategy. By keeping you unbalanced, they ensure that you're too busy catching up to question their leadership or motives.

This erratic behavior can be maddening. Just when you think you've mastered the rules of their game, they change them. It's a form of psychological manipulation designed to assert dominance. You're left in a perpetual state of trying to please, which only deepens your engagement with their whims. It's a cycle that's hard to break, as each new objective seems like it could be the key to finally gaining their unwavering approval—approval that will never come.

They subtly disparage you, pit people against you, or draw comparisons between you and others.

Narcissists are adept at playing the comparison game to their favor. They'll make offhand comments that seem innocent but are designed to erode your confidence. "Why can't you be more like [certain colleague]? They get it right" is a common refrain intended to sow seeds of self-doubt. These comments aren't just about making you feel inferior; they're about keeping everyone around them in a state of competition for their attention and favor.

The divisiveness doesn't stop at comparisons. They'll spread rumors, insinuate alliances, and even fabricate conflicts—all to ensure that no one feels secure enough to challenge their position. By pitting people against one another, they maintain the upper hand; everyone else is too busy defending themselves or attacking others to notice the puppet strings being pulled.

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They feel an urge to "undercut" you and strive to undermine you.

A boss humiliating his employee

For the enviously pathological narcissist, your gain is their loss. They cannot stand to see you succeed unless it directly benefits them. They will go to great lengths to ensure that any ground you gain is quickly undermined. This can manifest in overt actions like public humiliation or more insidious forms like gaslighting, where they manipulate you into questioning your sanity or reality.

Their need to undercut you is deeply rooted in their own insecurities. Despite their outward bravado, they are threatened by the talents and capabilities of others. Their self-worth is so fragile that they must weaken others to feel strong. Sadly, their actions are not just about maintaining a hierarchy; they're about ensuring that no one ever feels stable enough to leave their orbit, trapping those around them in a cycle of depreciation and dependency.

Recognize these harmful tactics for what they are—a desperate attempt to overshadow the brilliance of others. Stand firm in your worth; it is independent of the narcissist's attempt to dim your shine. Remember, your light is yours alone and cannot be extinguished by another's envy.

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