"Oh my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent…" Jeremiah 4:19

Selfishness vs. Narcissism


I had a friend suggest this so I’m doing it because we’re DESPERATE!

My son and I are being evicted thanks to a crappy roommate not paying his rent or share of the bills and I’m trying to get the heck out of Tampa and back home to Seattle. I lost my job in late October and Jason didn’t work for 2 weeks in November and then again for two weeks in December due to the holidays so we just fell into that “one month away from homelessness” category that many Americans are in. Well, we’re here and facing homelessness.

I’ve set up a GoFundMe page so if those of you who have found this site helpful could maybe consider helping us I would be incredibly grateful!  This information was freely given and will always remain so.  However, we’re really stuck so I’m just reaching out to anyone remotely connected to our world (even the kindness of strangers) who would consider helping us not end up homeless!

Thank you for reading this post.  I have no pride left, only desperation…things turned bad so quickly my head is spinning and I’m walking in circles so if you can help, PLEASE do! Also, if you could pray and/or put us on any prayer chains or lists you know, that would be awesome too.

The GoFundMe link is here:  https://www.gofundme.com/janetbyers

I’m working through it with my son right now. We’re trying to help each other notice when we’re acting in “old ways” and exhibiting narcissistic behavior (as opposed to just being thoughtless or selfish.)

It’s tricky but we’re starting to recognize patterns and, when Jason and I are talking and analyzing our own behavior (as well as discussing and trying to identify the behavior of others) we have discovered that there IS a big difference between “general” selfish behavior and narcissistic behavior.

Here’s what I’ve learned: ALL narcissists are selfish; not all selfish people are narcissists.

Selfishness or thoughtlessness (or just plain old trying to win or be in control) will cause the person doing it consternation when you bust them on it. They’ll apologize (usually) and, more importantly, they can stop (they might NOT stop, but they can.) They will accept responsibility or at least acknowledge the behavior.

Now mind you, this is when it’s talked about RATIONALLY…acknowledgement, acceptance of responsibility, change in behavior and/or stopping will certainly not happen in the middle of a screaming match!

The narcissist will NEVER:

1) Acknowledge the behavior, let alone take responsibility for it.

2) Will somehow blame you and claim either that you MADE them do it, or that you yourself are actually the one acting selfish. Regardless, they will deny and blame.

3) The won’t stop. Not ever. Never, EVER. There is ONE more (presented further down this page) and to me, it’s the BIGGEST clue that I’m dealing with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder. It’s called “gaslighting.”

People can be selfish…just watch any group of 2 year olds playing and you’ll see it within seconds: “Mine, mine, mine!” “I had it first!” “NO! Won’t share!” “Mine, mine, MINE!!!”

I’ve said for years that EVERYONE wants the red carpet rolled out for them and all traffic lights to be green. We ALL shout “mine, mine, MINE!” We will try to get things our own way…why wouldn’t we? Life seems easier when everything is going my way, right?

Not always and healthy, mentally sound people KNOW this (even when we want to act like a spoiled 2 year old.) We understand mistakes, personal responsibility, miscommunication and fairness. We KNOW the world doesn’t work that way.

If we’re Christian, we KNOW God says not to act selfishly and to apologize. Heck, that’s true even if you’re not Christian…otherwise, you’ll have bad relationships, guilt and end up with fewer friends.

We even have to forgive OTHERS who act like that (even if they DON’T say they’re sorry) ‘cuz forgiveness is something we’ve freely received so must freely give…probably one of the hardest things about being a Christian for some…and my own hand is waving in the air at that one!

Okay, back to recognizing selfish vs. narcissistic. The biggest clue for me that someone is a narcissist is that they will gaslight you when you try to bust them on their behavior.

Gaslighting is waaay above denial and blame, it’s an attempt at literal brainwashing and is the ONE way you can tell a narc trying to get into your head and control you!


“A common form of brainwashing in which an abuser tries to falsely convince the victim that the victim is defective, for any purpose whatsoever, such as making the victim more pliable and easily controlled, or making the victim more emotional and therefore more needy and dependent.” (Source: http://jebrown.us/Relationshop/Definitions/gaslighting.html)

My last relationship with a man named David ended in 2004 and I’ve stayed alone since then because I’m not EVER again:

1) Running ahead, or outside of, God’s will for me in relationships again.

2) Dealing with a narcissist, workaholic, an alcoholic who had not gone through some kind of recovery process or any kind of personality disorder…and I’ve been groomed to be attracted to those kind of people (and I know my skill sets aren’t quite “there” yet regarding spotting them right away so my best bet is to stay away.)

3) I’d rather stay alone than be in a bad relationship so I’d rather not be involved than be badly involved (which really points back to number 1 on my list…if it ain’t God, I ain’t doing it!)

BUT, I wasn’t quite over David and went to visit him in Tucson in January of 2011. He did some hurtful, selfish things and I reacted right on the spot. He denied that it had happened and then tried to blame me. But he APPEARED to apologize and take responsibility.

After I returned, he did a couple more things that were REALLY selfish and hurtful and I tried to communicate them to him. I kept telling my girlfriend (who recognized his narcissism) that he was NOT a narc but simply selfish. She disagreed.

But then he gaslighted me, not once but twice AND then he took back the “so called” responsibility for the things he’d done while I was in Tucson.  He tried telling me I was just “being oversensitive” and making too big of a deal of everything. Then he said, “you know, not everything is about you.”

ALL the lights went on and the alarms sounded in my head. This is a typical gaslighting statement…your efforts to be heard, to be respected and to be understood are undermined and belittled.

What he’d done was constantly interrupt and try to control a BUSINESS meeting I had with clients. He was not involved, I’d tried to get him to not attend the meeting because he was tired, knew nothing about it nor did he care. But when HE thought I hadn’t answered one of their questions (which I did to the client’s satisfaction…which he couldn’t tell because he didn’t have the 10 year relationship with them that I had) he got rude.

I was absolutely furious with him afterward and that’s what I tried to talk to him about.  He denied, then he blamed me, then he told me I had acted badly to my clients and finally, he told me I was making too big of a deal out of it.  I persisted and that’s when he pretended to apologize. But it wasn’t a real apology, it was simply to shut me up.

THIS is what he re-attacked me with over the phone when I got back to Nashville.  This is the “situation” he took back and said, “you know, everything isn’t about you.”  Ummm, it was my business meeting and was worth $1000 to me so I begged to differ.  But I knew, after words like these and others, that I was dealing with a narc.  Melanie had been right.

I remember just sitting there on the phone, staring at the wall…knowing I had no reason to continue in the same pattern I’d walked away from 7 years before…knew that nothing had changed and never would because  he IS a narcissist. I cut off communication with him and finally got that last little bit of “leftover love” to go away.

I have writing from back in 2004 that makes sense to me NOW that I realize he’s a narcissist but he was a pretty good guy in so many ways (and back then, being badly treated by a narc was so deeply ingrained in me that I never even noticed some of his behavior.)

So hope this helps you recognize “normal” selfish behavior in the people in your life (vs. the completely toxic narcissistic behavior in those who abuse you) as you walk your personal path to recovery and healing!

4 responses

  1. Thank you for writing this. I am trying to figure out myself what am i to do with my boyfriend David who seems to come across as a narc. He does seem good all around and it’s amazing that it took me so long to see it. But he has told me many time that, “I am always right.” “If i don’t feel that i am wrong, then i won’t apologize.” I cannot believe it. I cannot believe because i have never felt these things ever cross my mind even before i was saved. But even today, for the things he wouldn’t hear me out on, he apologized for and started to take it out on me, but then said, no i am going to leave it at that. I’ve told him goodbye in the past few days 2x. For some reason, he came running back to me, but before i quit answering my phone and pounded on my door threatening me, he called me mean names and things that don’t even make up me. Amazing. I am trying to not talk much to him because i am figuring out how to make him just let me go. I tell him i am done and he just shows up. He says we will be ok and we will work it. I don’t think so. I am depressed, i cannot lose weight, i am stressed, i am anxious around him and feel like i am walking on egg shells. I cannot ask questions without me nosey, or female emotional, or blah blah blah. He told me 2 nights ago, when he refused to leave my house, to call the cops. So, as a good women, i obeyed him and picked up my phone (though i wouldn’t call for real) and then he instantaneously says, “see, i told you you were a typical simple woman just like the rest of the world.” He tries to use the bible against me even though he doesn’t read it. It’s horrible. I was starting to think i was crazy. But it’s not me. I also realize that the nicer i got and more respectful i got, he got meaner. So, now when i put boundaries on things and hang up on him, he is running back to me, but not always in a good manner either. He can be threatening me saying that if things escalate it’s my fault. Ok. I didn’t do anything. But from reading your articles, i do realize that i cannot react to him anymore. I do realize he likes when i do. He feeds off of them and uses them against me. And i know, that i am done with him. I am going to leave him, but i know i have to wait til he calms down and then tell him how right he was about me and then maybe he will leave me alone. I keep telling him i am done now and he keeps saying we will be ok. HUH? It will get accomplished. Thank you for your articles.


    August 22, 2014 at 6:44 AM

    • Hi Brenna: Forgive my late reply, I’m slogging through 3 years of comments. I do hope you’re doing better now and that you come to understand FULLY that it’s not you. Now the trick is to try to spot them before they get to you in the future! Blessings, dear, I pray you heal. And never, EVER let anyone “Bible Batter” you! There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! That crap is straight from the devil and you, through God, have the power to stomp on the serpent’s head.

      January 18, 2016 at 11:25 PM

  2. This website has been my BIBLE I cannot express how much this is helping me in dealing with people I have encountered, but it is SO difficult to read. Just my humble opinion (or request?) I beg of you to make the background white and the text black… I know I’m in marketing, but there’s a reason why the best websites are clean and easy to read… I end up cutting and pasting into a doc in order to read it. I get the whole ooooooh narcissist feel of the black vibe! Totally! But it really makes it hard to read and if your content wasn’t so awesome, I would have found another site to read… (btw you can delete this if you want, I wanted to send a message directly but couln’t figure out how… so feel free to “unapprove comment” just wanted to give you this message! (gosh it’s so hard to write like this too! ack!)

    May 29, 2014 at 2:55 AM

  3. thanks:) my my is a narc and it really hurts me. she is guilty of gaslighting. shed made me feel inadequate when all i want is to resolve issue in a fair way and so shed respect my preferences which i always made clear to her but she keep ignoring. and it really hurts me.. now i somehow learn to stand my ground but when she needed help i cant help but help her.. i love her shes my mother but shed always hurt me.. id still get attacked and not surprised bout it so i somehow learned to deal with it.

    December 6, 2012 at 3:29 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s