We hear these words “narcissistic supply” a lot, and we may have even realised that narcissists need it and orient their lives around it.
But what does it really mean?
The truth is quite chilling and it’s essential to understand.
Narcissistic supply is a drug – it provides an emotional life force for the narcissist.
Like all drugs, “narcissistic supply” is chased for pain relief.
Like all addictions it’s the relief from pain that is addictive.
Addictions are a short term answer to being able to relieve oneself from emotional or physical pain.
The truth is emotional pain is often the most horrendous of all pains. Emotional pain is felt somatically in the body – and is usually more painful than physical pain, due to the self-annihilating beliefs about oneself that accompany it.
I discussed this in my article: How to Deal With Your Emotional Pain: The Right Way In Order To Grow and Expand.
Traditionally, all addictions are used to escape emotional pain and the horrendous accompanying self-definitions of, “I am worthless, defective and no good.”
Any energy that is sought from the outside to escape the fear of “self” is unwholesome, and generates more pain.
Such is the truth of a sex addict – who procures sex to avoid inner pain, or an alcoholic or a gambler, or a person engaged in any other addictive pursuit.
Like most addicts, the narcissist has to “mask” the addiction in order to get the supply. He or she doesn’t express to people, “I can’t stand being alone with myself. I need you to provide me with something / anything that takes me away from my inner self-annihilating self.”
In stark contrast, the narcissist strives to create a persona of confidence, charm and empowerment in order to groom others for narcissistic supply.
Why the Narcissist Has to Frenetically Avoid Self
The narcissist’s inclination towards addiction is horrific. All addicts have a reduced threshold to self-soothe – meaning to be with self to process emotional disruption and insecurities.
The ability to self-soothe requires emotional maturity and an “inner solidness,” which is reliant on healthy emotional development. Emotional intelligence is granted from healthy role models as a child, or self-created purposefully as result of inner emotional resolution and development work as an adult.
The narcissist is emotionally stunted – somewhere between the age of 3-7 years of age. Even though he or she may even be mentally brilliant in certain aspects, emotionally he or she is severely immature and has never developed. At a young age the narcissist “killed off” his or her inner self, deciding it was unacceptable and unable to get needs met, and developed a False Self replacement.
This False Self, because it is a false self is not real, authentic or stable. It is a childish fictitious character ever reliant on outside approval or attention. Because it is childish it is dependent, precarious and easily emotionally triggered. It does not possess the mature integrity of love, truth or loyalty.
The False Self is dependent on gaining validation that confirms its existence. This external validation is sought to avoid the narcissist sinking inside him or herself and feeling the truth of how the narcissist really feels about his or her existence,“The real me is a defective self that I despise and need to avoid at all costs.”
The narcissist’s inner being (the True Self) is damaged. When the cracks appear and the insane behaviour begins, this is the real person you meet. The inner self has trapped within it the festering accumulated wounds that the narcissist has tried to divorce him or herself from, by procuring narcissistic supply as the distraction.
The narcissist is engaged in constant self-avoidance.
These are original wounds that have never been healed. The literal abuse, neglect and mixed messages from childhood. The ineffective parental mirroring that did not allow the child to grow up with a sense of connection, safety, dependability, accepting and understanding limits, learning the ability to be resilient and self soothe, and learning how to delay gratification – which also created the inability to understand a peripheral of others, have a conscience or empathy, or know a reverence and love for self, others and life itself.
This is the basis of all addictive behaviour – a separation from self-worth, self-love and the ability to inwardly emotionally navigate life healthily.
If an individual does not have the inner resources, then they believe a sense of “self” must be provided by the outside world.
The narcissist pays the ultimate price of the disowned inner self being replaced by the False Self (ego). When the emotional going gets tough, the narcissist discovers he or she has only a shriveled inner being at the helm. This ineffectual inner being is defenceless when trying to fend off the self-annihilating Inner Critic, who confirms the narcissist’s gravest nightmare, “You are totally defective.”
The narcissist does not feel connected to, and loved and accepted by “existence.” He or she is suffering the ultimate spiritual starvation – which is the basis of trying to seek “self” in the wrong places. The wrong places means “the outside.”
This always brings about a feeling of unworthiness, scarcity mindedness, and the need to compete – the need to outsmart and the desire to win at the expense of someone else losing because of the beliefs of “not enoughness” “I am not enough” and there is “not enough” – therefore I have to be someone inauthentic and manipulative to try to win – and everyone else does this in a “dog eat dog” world.
That is the orientation of narcissism.
In the quest for narcissistic supply, people are reduced to objects. People are not individuals; they are just a drug to relieve inner torment. The pathology of maladaptation to avoid the narcissists’ inner wounds are so severe that these wounds are projected onto anyone else who is a target of supply.
The narcissist honestly believes these people are in fact the ones using the narcissist for narcissist supply.
Such is the twisted brain wiring, which acts as a buffer to preserve the narcissist’s False Self, and to continue avoiding his or her inner self.
“My bad feelings are always someone else’s fault.”
The Vicious Cycle of Narcissistic Supply
Like all maladaptation, created through fear and self-avoidance, there is a vicious self-perpetuating cycle.
This is true for any addiction.
The narcissist’s cycle is this: Inner anguish and self-loathing – seeking relief through outside attention to try to confirm another “reality” (the fictitious self) – not receiving feedback that adequately confirms the childish unrealistic demands of the False Self (an inevitable emotional hair-line trigger gets hit) – then more narcissistic supply is necessary to try to offset that narcissistic injury (the pain of inner anguish and self-loathing) … then … back to the start.
This is the spiral into total insanity, more pain and greater self-delusion.
As you see this cycle is self-perpetuating with no way out ….
The very definition of addiction is: when an urge or compulsion has emotional control over you. Narcissists feel powerless to control their urge to self avoid and seek outside attention to try to offset inner pain. It is a force that they have no conscious control over – like a parasitical energy which has a life of its own.
The truth of the matter is: the narcissist’s True Self (inner being) has been taken hostage by his or her ego.
A very, very good book to read, to grant you more information regarding the psychic virus of an ego run amok, is “Dispelling Wetiko” by Paul Levy. This book is heavy – and has a fair bit of psycho-babble – but nevertheless is a powerful account of the disease of narcissism.
Like all addictions, the true solution is consciousness. It is about humble and committed self-reflection (which an energised ego won’t allow). It is about addressing the core wounds that are fuelling the inner pain and the urge to avoid self.
There truly is no other solution for breaking the cycle.
The addiction to narcissistic supply is simply a symptom of these wounds – it’s how the narcissist’s wounds show up in every day physical life. The cause is so much more than an anxiety compulsion.
What is Narcissistic Supply?
Quite simply, narcissistic supply is energy – it is attention. It’s the knowing, “If I can extract attention from you, it allows me to know I exist.”
This may seem really weird – but if we can imagine that the True Self has been completely disowned and engulfed by a fictitious character of no real substance, then we can imagine how the narcissist feels. Sam Vaknin describes this feeling as being ‘dead on the inside.’
I have had narcissists (when I used to try to work on them with QFH years ago) tell me in rare windows of narcissistic injury – when the shock was so severe that their ego had momentarily crumbled – that they feel lifeless. Like their inner self was a huge black empty gaping hole.
The myth of vampires is modelled on narcissists. It is about the “un-dead” – beings not dead, but certainly not alive, and needing to suck the life blood of humans in order to exist.
I know it is creepy, but that is exactly what narcissists are – they need to suck energy and attention from people to feel alive in any capacity. And they need this distraction to try to drown out the inner screams of unworthiness, and defectiveness that are always threatening to emotionally eat them alive.
Emotionally healthy people are a source of their own good energy, which they bring to the table of life. This generates more good energy and expands life force. Narcissists are like a black hole sucking energy from life, as a bottomless pit. This is why they reduce, take and annihilate life force.
Narcissists, like vampires and parasites, are anti-life.
This is why, when a narcissist has targeted you as his or her drug dealer of narcissistic supply, you feel emptied out. Simply sitting with a person who is a psychic vampire, regardless of the “show” they are putting on, leaves you feeling emotionally drained and exhausted.
Initially narcissists are very good at reflecting back to you energy and making you believe they are supplying you with wonderful “energy” – but it’s set up to appear like that … and sooner or later the tables are turned horrendously.
As you more than likely have experienced ….
Narcissistic supply is all about this: “I need you to supply me with the version of myself I want to be, to escape the real self-loathing ‘dead’ inner version of myself.”
So this really means: “Give me something that lets me know I exist.”
Of course approval and acclaim is wonderful.
The problem is, this is sooner or later distrusted. The terminal issue is that narcissists loath themselves, and consequently don’t trust, believe or “like” anyone else either.
The “love” they feel for people is only the “high” of temporary relief from inner torment, which is NOT real love in any capacity.
As a result, inevitably the initial acclaim and high of narcissistic supply (approval) inevitably turns into, “Why is this person so nice? I know they are manipulating. They have an agenda; they are not to be trusted. They are setting me up to get something from me.”
So, the very approval the narcissist craves in order to escape his or her inner demons, is sabotaged.
But this still creates narcissistic supply, because the narcissist continues to avoid his or her inner self. Now this person is blamed for the very pathologies the narcissist suffers from. He or she is conveniently scapegoated for the narcissist’s painful unresolved inner wounds.
The goal posts get shifted, the narcissist starts poisoning, confusing, abusing – and the person who is “loving” the narcissist is severely wounded and reacts.
Now intense attention is granted.
The narcissistic now has A-grade narcissistic supply.
The narcissist receives the twisted delight in having his or her existence even more confirmed, “I must be incredibly significant to reduce you to this level of reaction.”
So many of us, before understanding narcissism, had no comprehension as to why a narcissist would so carelessly and purposefully stir the pot. When we understand what the total goal is – gaining narcissistic supply – we can understand there is very little value to the narcissist in creating harmonious, nurturing, sane, peaceful lives.
There is nowhere near enough drama in that to create diversions from being with self.
This is why it is so stock standard for narcissists to unexpectedly act out outrageous behaviour after bouts of things going well. When things get too calm, the narcissist starts sinking inwards to his or her wounds and needs to explode outwards away from them.
Please understand narcissistic supply is the use of any energy to know that they exist. When you start pulling away, this could be any tactic you could imagine.
The most common is any contact the narcissist does to get your head ticking. If the narcissist knows he or she can screw with your mind – this alone grants them the feeling of, “I exist because I know I can affect you.”
Any attention you grant – anything at all – just sucks you in deeper and feeds the narcissist. Any energy you burn on: why he or she said that, or did that, or what the agenda could be, or what he or she is really thinking, and so on and so forth, psychically, emotionally, mentally and physically sucks you dry.
If you are reading this article, there is every chance you know exactly what I mean – the feeling of being psychically taken over, and parasitically violated.
Objectification and Selling Out
Think of a severely addicted drug addict – what are they capable of doing? Selling their child? Some definitely are capable of doing anything to get the drug. One thing is for certain, the narcissist sold his or her soul out to serve the False Self long ago.
If you are connected to a narcissist, you are easily sold out as well. If you are not serving the False Self adequately, and you never can, nobody and nothing can – not the most loving, attractive or intelligent person, not the latest and best car, not the greatest riches, not the plushest penthouse … nothing will ever cut it – inevitably you will be devalued and discarded.
Like most hardened drug addicts, narcissists have back up supplies. After the initial idealisation phase wears off with partners, narcissists don’t get the insatiable “hit” they crave, and need supply in reserve – without loyalty, conscience or a backward glance.
Each object of supply, including people, is sought to get relief. Then like an entitled, never appeased child, each object is abused, broken and then tossed aside for another and another and another.
The False Self is insatiable and self-annihilating – that’s the purpose of the ego – it’s a virus. It destroys everything in its path and ultimately its host.
For the narcissist nothing ever lasts, there is never any commitment, love or loyalty. Everything and everyone is an object that will never make the grade, or produce real and abiding self-love, self-acceptance and inner tranquility – which is everyone’s reason for striving for anything.
The ultimate lesson for every human is this: these deeply desired emotions are states. They are never things we get, or people we get – they are not conditional on what we get in any shape or form – they are created by who we are being unconditionally as a state within ourselves.
They are deeply reliant and created only by the connection and relationship we have with our own inner self, regardless of what we do or don’t “get.”
The Narcissist and Co-dependent Similarities, and Our Healing
My purpose in discussing narcissists is not to put our focus on narcissists, believing that is the answer to our woes.
My purpose in discussing narcissists is to raise consciousness. In order to do that, we can only ever take responsibility for our own consciousness.
Consciousness is the ability to self-reflect, and to deeply work at the level of “No longer am I going to focus on what has happened to me – I am going to deeply assess and confront why this has happened to me.”
Evolving our consciousness entails taking 100% radical personal responsibility – it is the understanding there is only one thing we can ever affect and change – ourselves.
This is the only place where we have any power, to become the change we want to see in the world – one person at a time.
The more we point the finger to the outside at everyone else’s unconsciousness and don’t address our own consciousness levels, the more we contribute to unconsciousness.
I see this happen, time and time again in the abuse recovery communities. Intense focus on narcissists and nowhere near enough personal self-reflection or development.
We have no ability to change narcissists, and quite frankly no power or right to, because the narcissistic is not “us.” The only ability and right we ever have is: to change ourselves. That is the ONLY place our power lies.
If we don’t work on raising our own consciousness, then we will continue to attract narcissists, and be damaged by them, regardless of the logical information we know about them.
Life’s attractions, interactions and lessons are not being created at the level of the logical mind, which is always looking “outwards” and is intensely unconscious.
Our personal life experience is being generated by the subconscious currents that drive our choices, attractions and encounters. This is the 40 million bits of information that is being processed per second in your unconscious, as the powerful generator of your life, not the mere 40 bits of information per second taking place in your logical mind.
No-one would logically choose a narcissist – and I promise you that you certainly did not, just as I didn’t.
To become conscious, we need to be aware that everything and everyone in our life that is hurting us is showing us an aspect of ourselves that we haven’t found, acknowledged, and healed yet.
This is the “why” this happened to us.
There are many powerful healing reflections we can understand from the narcissist’s insatiable need for narcissistic supply – all generated from the urge to get outer approval.
It is very empowering to take responsibility for where we matched up to this.
Where were we struggling to confirm, accept and love self? What levels of deficient unconditional love did we have for ourselves? Where and why were we making our feelings about ourselves reliant on other people “seeing” and validating our worth for us?
I did a healing session with a lovely NARP Member yesterday, and her deep beliefs that appeared, which we shifted in the healing session were: “My survival relies on other people’s approval.”
This lady is not a narcissist. She has a conscience; she does not purposely manipulate or lie. She would never knowingly hurt anyone – yet of course she has hurt herself many times.
She has suffered feelings of emotional powerlessness when people haven’t approved of her, and she has hung on for crumbs with abusers. She has said “Yes” so many times and handed her personal power over, when “No” would have been self-loving and self-honouring. She has also struggled with addictions to try to ease her pain of this personal emptiness and powerlessness.
Can you see the direct match up?
Her simply learning about narcissists would never be her answer. After her first narcissistic abuse experience she became an expert researcher. She knew all there was to know about narcissists, yet she found herself smack bang in another narcissistic relationship.
Naturally the only true solution is the healing of her inner wounds that are matching her up subconsciously with narcissists. Fortunately that is the deeply committed inner work that she is determined to do, because she has had enough of the continual cycle of her faulty painful inner beliefs generating with life the validity of those beliefs.
Such is the power of the 40 million bits of information being processed per second within us. Our ingrained emotional painful beliefs play out to the letter, until we make the unconscious conscious, and heal them.
The Blind Spots of Unconsciousness
My client and I had a very interesting conversation at the end of the session yesterday about unconsciousness. She acknowledged that she has always felt like this since she could remember.
What this means is: she never knew any different. The anxiety was always there, the precarious self-loathing when people didn’t approve, or didn’t grant her feedback that made her feel valued, and the powerlessness of clinging on to trying to make abusive people grant her her worthiness.
Then came her total understanding that her mind kicked in try to manage these wounds. It looked outwards, and created stories. These stories go like this: “I’m really upset with the way you treated me,” or “Why do other people always get chosen and I don’t?,” or “I know you are horrible to me yet I still want you to acknowledge me, love me and look after me.”
In other words, if we remain unconscious, we all fall into the dire illusion that it is the outside creating our pain. Which is a totally false premise, because it is the inner faulty beliefs that are responsible. Life and others are simply stage-players playing out the scenes that produce the validity of these beliefs.
My client was going to approach her boss, over her dismissive treatment yesterday. Just like she had been confronting the latest narcissist about his treatment of her. Fortunately now she understands her true solution is the healing of her painful inner belief systems.
Her emancipation was always about meeting herself.
The truth is this – the battle we are doing in this Community is NOT a war against narcissism. It is a proactive movement to up-level consciousness.
“Wars” don’t work. Whenever we push back against something, all it ever does is energise it, confirm it more and feed it energy to push back harder.
We are never going to eliminate abuse and narcissists by doing that ….
Narcissists are pathologically unconscious. The narcissist has no ability to go inwards, face and deal with original wounds and up-level the very reasons as to why he or she projects inner wounds onto others and blames people for them. The narcissist is not going to heal his or her original inner wounding and break the vicious self-defeating cycle of trying to gain validation of self from the outside.
We will never force the narcissist to, and we will never protect people by focusing intense energy on narcissists.
The only remedy we ever have is to heal our own unconsciousness so that we are never again a match for another unconscious person.
When enough people do that – narcissists will no longer be able to groom “the outside” for supply. Conscious people simply do not get picked off by energetic predators.
You can only get picked off by a narcissist if you have the blind-spots of your own unconsciousness.
Powerless unconsciousness means holding someone else responsible for your own blind-spots.
Something we all need to deeply understand is: the more energy and focus that is granted to narcissists and narcissism grants narcissistic supply. It enables them and this horrible virus to exist.
Detaching fully and channeling our energy into the up-levelling of our consciousness starves narcissists – and without our energy to parasitically feed off they can’t exist.
The true healing solution always was, and always will be, raising our own consciousness.
I appeal to you to please share this article … because it is information that can assist the abuse recovery community on many levels.
Written by Melanie Tonia Evans