How Narcissists Define Grandiose - What To Look For

by frugalrvers

I endured a narcissistic personality disorder relationship for a decade. Here are personal examples of grandiose behavior I encountered, that I hope will provide NPD insight.

There are many people looking for "how to deal with narcissistic personality disorder" in addition to searches for coping skills. Having lived with a narcissist for ten years, I can say that the best information I can offer is to learn how to heal and recover from the relationship.

One of the most common traits of NPD is grandiosity / grandiose thinking. It presents itself in so many ways where narcissists are concerned. Here I will share the various personal examples of this trait that I witnessed first hand for so long.

As the fog lifted toward the end of my relationship, when I could finally see the personality disorder my ex had, what helped me cope was hearing examples from others who also survived this heartbreaking disorder. It helped rebuild my broken self esteem (compliments of the narcissist) - and that is the objective of this article - to see you aren't alone.

First Things First - Define Grandiosity

Common Characteristics Of The Grandiosity Definition

If I had to choose one word to define grandiosity, it would be EXAGGERATION. Certainly even healthy individuals exaggerate at one time or another...that is quite typical of normal human behavior. But the narcissist crosses the line and begins believing these grandiose delusions. They truly believe others are inferior - that they have fame, uniqueness, power and/or talent that, in reality, does not exist, if you were to do some digging.

What's worse is that they demand to be treated as if they do have these superior credentials. In my case, my husband got an associates degree in a medical field, but demanded he be treated as if he were an MD - an expert over everyone else (even other doctors) and the only capable one to make any and all medical decisions in the family.

Photo Courtesy Of Pixabay

So why doesn't anyone call their bluff? In my case, there were a few reasons:

  1. They shatter your self esteem. When subjected to the unhealthy narcissist over time, you begin to lose your self esteem and believe they actually are superior. They beat you down mentally and keep you feeling small enough (like you are the "crazy" one) so that there is no reason to challenge their perceived authority.
  2. If you don't stroke their ego they can get very angry and, simply, won't listen anyway. I may have become free from the narcissist by marriage, but we had a child so that meant I had to learn how to cope with him in co-parenting (a nightmare - only they have rights to parent, in their minds). Whenever I would challenge his lies and exaggerations, he would get irate and either hang up or break into a terrifying rage. You cannot force him to produce "evidence" of his claims - and, believe me, a narcissist won't do it. They don't have to provide any evidence of their lies to the "likes of you."

Narcissist And Grandiose Terminology And Definitions

Grandiose Behavior Example: Jealousy Underneath Ego

One grandiose behavior I witnessed in many forms might shock you, when you think about narcissistic personality disorder and what appears to be the large ego that accompanies it. It was that of jealousy.

No, the NPD in my life would never ACT jealous, because that would make him look weak. Instead, what he would do is criticize all of those he was jealous of, using terminology and examples of perceived expertise in the area.

Here are a few examples:

  • He was a drummer and in bands that were very popular when we were young. However, we could NEVER go out and enjoy other musicians without listening to him criticize that they're song is a rip-off, they are inferior for playing cover songs, their drummer is "terrible" because of this maneuver or that. He also could never give a compliment to other friends in bands after the gig was over. He just couldn't stand not being in the spotlight and made up reasons why everyone else was inferior to his talent.
  • People who got promoted at the hospital (instead of him), he KNEW had only got the job because they were sleeping with the supervisor, cheated on their tests, etc. No one ever got a promotion based on their own merit - unless it was him, of course.

Sam Vaknin, A Narcissist And Author, Says The Following (His Book Is Below)

Sam Vaknin, A Narcissist
Sam Vaknin, A Narcissist

Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited By Sam Vaknin

Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited

Grandiose Thinking And "Claim To Fame"

The claim to fame part of grandiose thinking, once out of the relationship, is almost embarrassing to admit falling for. I felt so "dumb" as I was healing from the relationship. In fact, it is still one of my "triggers" today when I encounter other narcissists. You lived a life where you thought there was truth, only to discover it was all a facade embedded in a personality disorder.

Here are just a few of the "greatest hits" where my ex's claims to fame were concerned:

  • The doctors say I'm so talented they are offering to pay for me to go to medical school but I'm not interested (there were many based around the hospital, ones that could never be proved false).
  • I discovered that shark cartilage cures cancer but my idea was stolen.
  • I had to choose between being a famous musician and going into medicine (never went beyond associate degree, by the way).

Grandiose Ideation And LIES, LIES, LIES

One of the most challenging aspects of grandiose thinking in narcissists is that, in hindsight, you are certain nearly everything was a lie. Like the boy who cried wolf, you no longer believe anything he/she has to say.

As stated at the beginning, it is hard to call their bluff, so you never get the true satisfaction of "catching" them. They either blow up into a rage, cut you off entirely to avoid having to prove anything, divert attention on to you and how "delusional" you are for doubting them. The only thing you can count on 100% is that you will never be given proof.

Narcissists have troubled relationships. They limit themselves to those who "worship" them but if they stop supplying the ego, they are discarded without thinking twice. My theory is that, though lies are hard to prove, over time most people just start recognizing their tales are impossible and just go away.

A narcissist rarely makes a mistake - and they will always find a way out when challenged with the request for proof. But my ex made one slip up that my parents never told me about until we had separated. That is the one example I will share out of a lifetime of lies.

We were moving to Phoenix and he went first, having obtained a job. He stopped at a restaurant between Illinois and Arizona, where they had a contest if you could eat some gigantic steak, you would get it for free, get a photo on the wall and plaque, etc. Never thinking my parents, after helping me move, would stop there for fun to admire his accomplishment on their return trip home, they were amazed to find they had never heard of him, there was no photo, no nothing.

He was simply making conversation, making things up, to be the center of attention one invented this tale. That is what happens - needing to constantly be admired and the center of attention, they create stories. This was the only time my ex "slipped up."

Grandiose Thinking And DANGER

Aside from the inflated sense of self, lies and underlying jealousy in grandiose thinking, there are times when a narcissist's feelings of superiority can equate to danger. For my ex, he felt he was omnipotent - possessing indestructible power. He climbed mountains, always had to step beyond safety barriers on mountain cliffs (put there for those "weak people"), jumped out of planes, hiked through deserts.

Of course, we would all have to listen to "stories" that conveniently happened on these solo treks...once again, no one around to prove otherwise.

However, that feeling of power resulted in helicopter rescue, compliments of me, on one occasion. He had been ill-prepared to just go off in unfamiliar territory on a 3 day trip along an Arizona river. I, of course, was a pathetic worry wart when I suggested it was too risky. Three days later, I drove to pick him up on the other end of his journey - pregnant and 100 miles from home, sitting in the forest as the sun began to set. He never came out. The next day helicopters located him. He didn't plan on the water being so cold that time of year and injured himself the first day.

The point is that those narcissists who feel a strong sense of power can and do get injured. They can also put loved ones at risk if they happen to engage in activities with the narcissist.

How To Deal With Narcissistic Personality Disorder And Grandiosity

Again (and unfortunately) there is no magic pill in how to deal with narcissistic personality disorder and grandiose thinking. It is such a dreadful disorder because narcissists aren't able to see they have a problem. My ex would never see a counselor, claimed to hate them and ridiculed their profession as garbage (they would have been a mirror to his disorder - a threat).

Grandiosity is seen in many other disorders. By itself, it does not mean someone is a narcissist. They must meet other diagnostic criteria as well, which my ex did. The purpose of this article was to just look at this one common trait in narcissistic personality disorder.

I wrote an article about my experience with NPD and my perception of a rise in narcissism overall, for further reading. To sum up this article, however, I will give this reminder: to remain superior, you must be made inferior. If you are in an NPD relationship, you need to get help before it is too late. I was broken down and needed help to see how ten years took a toll. Here are some closing, personal examples - you might see similarities in your own relationship:

  • He was a "professional" musician and my guitar playing/songwriting were ridiculed to the extent I stopped playing (until I left him).
  • He had an associate's degree, I received a Bachelor's from a great university, on the Dean's List for my last two years. My field (Human Development) was considered a nothing career - a waste and a joke (I stopped working in my field until I left him).
  • I was afraid of heights so all of the mountain climbing treks were an opportunity to remind me of how weak I am (I stopped climbing with him).
  • He made lies about my friends to the point that I lost most of them during our ten years. His friends, of course (all idolized him, most were women) were the perfect selection of friend.
  • I worked in the psych ward of the hospital for awhile, he claimed people who work on that floor were nurses, therapists, etc. who "couldn't cut it" and failed in school.

This is just a small summary of how the narcissist thrives by keeping you inferior so he/she can feel superior. In the rare case they do give a compliment to someone else, make no mistake, it is only to make themselves look good to others - they are incapable of caring at all about you.

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Updated: 09/29/2018, frugalrvers
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Grandiose Thinking Comments

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frugalrvers on 08/02/2013

Thanks for commenting, Mimi....
I'm so sorry you endured this, too....not a club anyone wants to be a member of....
Hope you're not still enduring it presently........

MimiBrusko on 08/02/2013

Sounds all too familiar. especially the beating down mentally if you call them on any of it.

frugalrvers on 06/19/2013

It was terrible...but I think every challenge we face is an opportunity to that is how I cope with that "past." Thanks so much for commenting, Lilysnape!

Lilysnape on 06/16/2013

Fascinating article. It must have been really terrible being in that relationship

frugalrvers on 05/24/2013

Thank you MaggiePowell...
I feel for you, too. You have to be in it to truly understand it, don't you? Many people asked why I stayed...and all I can offer is that I think he removed my brain but one day I got it back. You're so beaten down you don't trust your own feelings...only his...that's when you're stuck.

MaggiePowell on 05/24/2013

spent way too many years with someone who loved to make himself feel better by making me feel small. I feel for you

frugalrvers on 03/08/2013

Thanks, Lana -
I know I'm not alone out there...I hope this helps others, too...

Ragtimelil on 03/07/2013

Glad you are out of this relationship and I'm sorry for the damage it caused. I hope your story will help others.

frugalrvers on 03/03/2013

Thanks, Paul...
Glad to be out but devastated as a mom my daughter endured (and now suffers) the aftershocks. Our kids should be "put first" when we bring them into this world...but a narcissist parent just takes and takes from the child to feed his/her ego. Now as a young adult, my daughter is seeing how she was manipulated and how much she missed out on. I tried to be "all things" to her, but as we all know that is impossible. When she was young, she worshiped him - as soon as she entered adolescence and grew her own wings, with her own ideas, he shunned her...and that hurts a child so much. Nothing this mom can do can ever repair that damage done. It is a true illness that hurts so many innocent people.

frugalrvers on 03/03/2013

In the narcissists mind, they aren't the problem - everyone else is. Any tears shed are either for drama or crying for themselves, they have no idea how they destroy family, children, spouses - they dodge/avoid therapy because even therapists are the enemy (anyone who might hold up a mirror so they see their disorder). They absolutely walk away from ANYONE who doesn't consider them someone to be admired. So if the world is the problem and they won't ever consider getting "help" (because they don't need it) - there is unlikely any hope of an awakening....

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