Sharing values is important in interpersonal relationships. I heard several people breaking up friendships over supporting and not supporting Trump. I have people in my life who I love dearly, but I can’t discuss political issues with because it will lead to a break-up. And I could never have a partner who didn’t value love and respect. Sharing values is a key ingredient for a trusting and intimate relationship.
What are values?
Values are fundamental beliefs that are informing attitudes and actions. They determine what is important to you and which personal qualities you aspire to. The way you interact, treat yourself and others, make choices and live your life. Values are the foundation. They are usually positive and capture beliefs about what is right and wrong, a moral compass and your deeper drivers.
Examples of values are love, respect, trust, loyalty, honesty, integrity, caution, financial security, justice, equality, reliability and family.
Values exist whether you are aware of them or not. Life feels easy when what you do and how you behave is aligned with your values. There is a sense of contentment and satisfaction. But when your values and actions are out of sync, life is challenging.
Subconsciously, you know your values. You might not know the priority, there might be some ‘borderliners’, but in the main, you have an innate knowing and instinctively you will live in line with your values. If your values are violated, you will feel uncomfortable the least and unhappy and guilty the most.
Values of a narcissist
As values are the foundation of your thoughts and actions, it makes sense to remember that a narcissist is like an addict with two desires, informing all their actions. The first one is the need for attention, admiration and confirmation that they are the best, the second one is the urge to hide their fragile egos, to keep themselves safe from being exposed as insecure or less good as they portray.
I grew up with a narcissistic mother and looking back at my experiences I discovered that my mother’s values are mostly negative. Her moral compass was very different from that of ‘normal’ people and when dealing with a narcissist it is helpful to keep in mind that they don’t share the same values as you do.
The following values are typical for someone who suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder:
Image and appearance
It is of the greatest importance to come across as beautiful, rich, intelligent, well-connected and successful and a narcissist will sacrifice values as financial security, love, honesty to image and appearance. This is what will give them confidence and at the same time it is the way to mask their lack of it. Getting into debt to show off the latest car or designer gadget is common amongst them.
There is only respect for their own needs and in order to get those met, they disrespect anything else. Other people’s perspective (they are not willing or able to see another perspective), boundaries (their sense of entitlement will push down the boundaries), people (no one is important apart from them). It can be quite shocking to listen to the put-downs and discreditations of other people or notice how they reveal personal information about others.
The truth is the truth that serves a purpose in the world of the narcissist. There is no factual truth, there is their vision that will enhance and ensure that their needs are met. They lie, twist, reframe without seeing that as a dishonesty. It is a necessity to keep themselves safe. They have no problem denying a situation, even if it is presented with proof.
The world revolves around them and everyone who happens to be part of that world should go along with it. All events, situations and stories have them as the centerpiece. Their actions are focussed on creating it or even forcing it. The eulogy a narcissist wrote for his mother was, apart from the first few sentences, all about him.
People can’t be trusted, people are there to be used and if they don’t fulfil their purpose anymore it is time to find someone else who can replace them. There is no recognition of the worth of shared experiences. It is very common that a narcissistic ex-partner will be involved within weeks with someone new.
It is extremely important for the narcissist to be in control. In control of themselves as they need to protect their fragile ego, and in control of the people around them who need to give them their supply. And the supply doesn’t need to be given naturally, it can easily be forced. The narcissist doesn’t care how they get it, as long as they get it. One way of control is to estrange people from each other through triangulation.
The only thing is the only person that counts. The whole life and that of others is organised, controlled and bullied around the importance of the narcissist. The lack of empathy, let alone compassion, makes it impossible for them to connect to the emotions and upset of others and makes it easier to focus on the self and making sure that their needs are met. It is very normal narcissistic behaviour to create a scene at a party, just to get the focus onto them.
When dealing with a narcissist, it is important to know (not understand!) where they are coming from. They think, feel and behave very differently from other people and unfortunately can be very damaging. Protecting yourself through knowledge is a good first step. If you recognise that someone seems to embrace values like mentioned above, be aware and be careful.