People with strong narcissistic tendencies hate seeing others do well. There are several reasons for this, and we will explore some of them in this article.
First and foremost, true happiness comes from within. Narcissistic people are unable to feel genuine happiness because they severely, or even completely, lack a sense of genuine self.
As a result, they are chronically miserable people who desperately try to feel better by constantly managing their fragile and skewed sense of self-esteem. They seek certain external rewards that they perceive as increasing their status: expensive things, sex, power, money, even family, and so on. Sadly, this is not enough to feel happy. They don’t understand that true happiness, contentment, and fulfillment comes from within.
When others do well, people with narcissistic tendencies are reminded that they are not happy, that they are fundamentally inadequate. On top of being miserable, people with strong narcissistic tendencies feel entitled. So when they see someone else doing well, they feel envy and resentment.
Here, the narcissist believes that they deserve whatever you have achieved because they are better than you. Indeed, the more you have something that they don’t, the more they feel that they are better than you and deserve whatever you have. In other words, they feel that you don’t deserve it since you are not them.
Because narcissistic people severely lack empathy, they either don’t understand or simply ignore how much others actually have to work to get where they are. Instead, they just look at you and think that you are unworthy of what they want. They assume that others do the kinds of sleazy and insincere things that they themselves would do—or are doing—to get it (narcissistic projection). They can’t imagine that another person who is more talented, hard working, intelligent, or otherwise deserving could possibly get what they want from life without behaving just as underhanded and damaging as they would.
Because of all of that, they perceive the situation as being unfair and despise you for it even though you did nothing wrong. Moreover, people with strong narcissistic tendencies often think in black and white terms only: good or evil, winner or loser, best or worst, success or failure, weak or strong, and so on.
So, in their eyes, they are good and whoever is doing well is evil. Not only that, if you are happy and thriving, then the narcissist’s self-esteem is threatened because they toxically compare themselves to you. In their worldview, there are only winners or losers and they don’t want to be “a loser.” Because of their deep-seated insecurity, they don’t want to appear having a flaw, or not being “the best,” or being below you. So, “to put you in your place” they will attack you, which has the added effect of “elevating” them.
And so, again, they perceive the situation as being unfair and detest you. And you, meanwhile, are just living your life.
Highly narcissistic people also feel what is sometimes referred to as Schadenfreude. In German, it means harm-joy. It is ‘the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.’ [Wikipedia]
So they are glad when you fail, when you experience pain, when you feel hurt. In their eyes you deserve it for being “bad.” Narcissistic people are known for the sadistic pleasures that they feel when seeing or making others suffer.
In more extreme cases, a malignant narcissist will actively try to harm you. It’s easy for them to justify anything and everything with their black and white thinking, projection, delusion, and a compulsive urge to manage their fragile self-esteem by any means necessary.
They might try to assassinate your character by slandering and smearing you. They might try to sabotage you, turn others against you, stalk, intimidate, or bully you, and do many other things narcissists do when feeling threatened.
Summary and Conclusions
Highly narcissistic people hate seeing others being happy. It’s because they themselves are unable to feel genuine happiness. They will use numerous mind-bending delusions and justifications to explain why your happiness is, in so many words, an act of aggression against them. Sometimes they will even try to actively hurt you and call it self-defense or honorable, too.
Don’t let them get to you. You are not doing anything wrong by living a happier life. Do whatever it takes to free and distance yourself from them. Malevolent people will always be miserable, but you don’t have to be.
Photo credit: Cherrysweetdeal
For more on these and other topics, check out the author’s books: Human Development and Trauma: How Childhood Shapes Us into Who We Are as Adults and Self-Work Starter Kit.