We have a little bit of a narcissist problem at the moment. Society is completely obsessed with them.
And I have some serious issues with the way anyone does something marginally self-centered, they get slapped with the narcissist label.
One of those things is the way people treat others. Narcissists typically talk over people, divert the conversation back to themselves and ensure all the focus is on them.
At all times.
Someone does this once and boom, they're a narcissist.
And you've got a friend, family member, or lover who does this to you, and perhaps more.
Here's the problem you might not realise you're having. You think you're dealing with a narcissist in your life.
You think the way this specific person treats you is because they're the problem. They do all these things to shut you down and make sure you feel very small.
They must be a narcissist, right? Wrong.
They don't treat everyone like this. They only display this dismissive behaviour towards you. Why? Because they believe you're an idiot, and they're treating you that way.
Here's how to know if you're dealing with a narcissist or someone who simply believes you're not smart enough for them.
Who's opinion do they ask?
When there is something, any topic that this person feels needs the opinion of others, who are they asking? Look around the room, and the situation, and take note of who they ask.
This person is not asking you.
They ask other people though; they're interested in other people's opinions, not just their own. Narcissists, classically, wouldn't care for the opinions of others.
But in any situation involving you, they don't ask for your opinion. Yours is the only one that isn't relevant to them.
The big red flag in this situation is when they want to know something you believe you're an expert in. For example, they're asking about how to fix the dying grass in their front garden and you're a gardener by trade.
They don't engage your opinion, despite everyone knowing you're the go-to person.
Who do they seat you with?
Narcissists, in my experience with them, tend to avoid people who challenge their intelligence. Or who calls them out on their behaviour. They want people around who they can belittle and feel superior over.
If the person you were dealing with were truly a narcissist, you would likely find yourself seated by their side.
If this was a dinner party, they would seat you next to them. Or close by them. You wouldn't be at the other end of the table, as far away from them as possible.
When someone believes you're an idiot, and they aren't a narcissist, you will find yourself forced into situations with other idiots. If this were the dinner table, you would find yourself at the opposite end of them.
Everyone has differing beliefs about who is an idiot and who isn't.
Everyone has their own reasons for this, too. I don't like saying this; everyone you know is ranking your intelligence and separating you into intellect-based social groups. Or ranking you based on their own criteria.
But as humans, we're all guilty of making this judgment.
We see this play out in social situations, which explains why you're with the idiots and not next to the person you think is a narcissist. The singles get seated together at a wedding. Or all the family sit together and all the friends sit together.
And, in the same way, the idiots sit together too.
It's cruel, the way people do this within their social circles. I wish people didn't do this. Sometimes I don't know if people are even aware they are doing it.
Some people do though, I'm sorry to say.
How often do they correct you?
Now here's a problematic one; narcissists love to correct people. Even if they have no idea what they're talking about, they have to be right.
Generally, they love to nitpick facts and details, in the hope of making them look smarter at the cost of you looking stupid.
Honestly, I don't understand this. I've never quite understood feeling better about myself based on someone else's suffering. Alas, narcissists are a breed of people I avoid.
Here is the issue; when you're the idiot, people will correct you. They will pick on what you say, correct you, or flat out not allow you to share your opinion.
And when they can, they will explain to anyone who is willing to listen about how your opinion is wrong, where you have your facts incorrect, and all the reasons to not believe you.
Frustrating, especially when you're right.
You know you're dealing with a narcissist when this person corrects everyone. They are a notorious corrector and other people share the same frustrations. You're not the only one.
Yet, when you are the only one, there's an indication of what they think of you. And what they aren't.
And speaking of it just being you…
Whilst we're here, there are few things people who believe you're an idiot do just to you, as opposed to what a narcissist does to everyone.
These behaviours all fall under the same goal for them; they're trying to test your intelligence. And minimise your place in their life.
And if it's not that, they're treating you how they believe you should be treated, like someone with minimal intelligence.
- Ask you if you understand what they're talking about - They will offer clarification before continuing their story, for example. Yet, when they're explaining a story at any other time, they don't offer a clarification
- They will talk over you and only you - Everyone else is given time to talk, no interruptions, but they don't let you end a sentence
- They use a unique tone of voice with you - You could almost imagine they were speaking to a child when they spoke to you. But around other people, they're normal. It's like talking with Jekyll and Hyde.
Narcissists, as you've gathered by now, aren't so selective with how they interact with general society. Or how they choose to communicate. You find everyone gets a bit of their attitude.
The distinct difference is that this person targets you, and only you.
What do you do about these people?
If you're already thinking it's time to ditch these people from your life, you're not an idiot.
Someone who constantly belittles your intelligence doesn't deserve a place in your life. Not only is not kind, or the actions of a friend, but it's also not helping you at all.
They only make you feel bad about yourself and, if your intelligence is lacking, it doesn't help you get any smarter.
It's all downsides for you. Why keep someone around who doesn't bring anything positive into your life?
Getting into an intelligence pissing contest with someone like this is almost like getting into one with a narcissist.
Both types of people have a trait in common; they have a firm belief about your position in their life. They think you're dumb.
You can spend your entire life trying to prove them wrong. Alas, you'll probably spend your life doing just that.
Some minds are impossible to change. Someone who has treated you like this will likely need too much convincing you're going to want to give.
Are they right?
I don't blame you for thinking, am I an idiot?
I mean, someone is suggesting you are. It's only human to wonder.
And whether you are or whether you aren't isn't an issue here. It doesn't stop the fact they think this about you.
I have a confession. There is someone in my life who treats me like the idiot in the room. It hurts more than I care to admit.
They constantly do everything I've spoken about, even though I know I'm not dumb. I've even faced comparative intellectual testing to them and passed in the same way as them.
What I've learned is that people have these deep-rooted beliefs about intelligence despite narcissism, personality disorders, or anything that happens in life. They get stuck on who's smart and who isn't.
The one thing I've learned to do is not to get into their intelligence testing with them.
It's not smart to indulge their obsession. And it's not smart to let one person define your intelligence.
We're better than that.
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