Some people have high self-esteem.
Some of them can be arrogant and self-absorbed.
But a relatively small fraction are just shameless Narcissists. What makes these people different?
Look for patterns over time
Narcissism is a personality trait that varies between people…but it’s also a trait that varies within a person.
In other words, your personality shifts around a little bit from one day to the next. Especially when you are in different situations, or around different people.
Shameless Narcissists describe themselves more consistently.
A shameless Narcissist might describe themselves as egotistical, vain, manipulative, arrogant, and selfish. But actually admitting this seems to be pretty rare.
Shameless Narcissists will just as easily reject the possibility that they are any of these things.
The key “tell” of the shameless Narcissist is that they describe themselves essentially the same way, regardless of the day, the context, the situation, the other people involved.
The people who might actually feel guilt or shame are the ones who acknowledge that their personality and behavior fluctuate, that they are sometimes more egotistical, vain, manipulative, arrogant, or selfish.
Why are some Narcissists Shameless?
One possibility is that Narcissists are also more likely to be psychopaths. Psychopathy is characterized by a lack of basic emotional responses.
But this doesn’t account for every shameless Narcissist. Perhaps not even most.
It seems that many are unwilling or unable to acknowledge that their behavior varies across situations.
They believe that they aren’t Narcissists, even when they happen to be acting like one.