Exploring the Incredible Sulk: A Narcissistic Behaviour.
Have you ever wondered why some individuals with narcissistic traits exhibit sulking behaviour? It is no secret that narcissists have an exaggerated sense of entitlement and are quick to feel agitated when things don’t go their way. They tend to feel slighted if they believe they are not receiving the attention they deserve and often fall into a mood when people refuse to comply with their demands. This behaviour manifests in various ways, but one commonly observed trait is the incredible sulk.
Narcissistic personality disorder exists on a spectrum, meaning not all narcissists will sulk. Similar to how not all narcissists resort to physical violence or overt verbal abuse, some prefer to utilise calculated tactics to bring you down, such as plotting your downfall or engaging in prolonged periods of silent treatment. However, for those who love to play the incredible sulk, sulking becomes a frequent behaviour, while others may resort to it occasionally.
The incredible sulk usually entails the narcissist adopting a silent treatment approach. However, what distinguishes this form of sulking is that the narcissist remains present, observing your every move. Some narcissists may opt for the silent treatment by disappearing from your life completely, ghosting you with a new partner in tow, only to resurface when the new relationship fails to fulfil their needs. This tactic leaves you ruminating on your thoughts and desperately seeking their attention, unknowingly providing them with the validation they crave. Unfortunately, narcissists lack empathy and fail to consider the impact of their actions on others.
In other cases, a narcissistic parent may intentionally give more attention to another family member, effectively ostracising you and triggering negative emotions. They may even threaten to cut you off from your inheritance or guilt-trip you into providing care for their declining health, thereby disregarding your boundaries. By sulking with their own children, narcissistic parents engage in pity plays to manipulate and obtain their desired outcomes.
During an incredible sulk, narcissists are often immersed in self-pity. They may gaze absentmindedly at the television, out the window, or into space, or they may simply stare at the floor. If you attempt to reach out to them, they may choose to ignore you or shrug their shoulders in indifference. It is not uncommon for their sulking to persist for days, during which they revel in their own misery and ensure that nobody else is happy either. Even if they do not respond to your overtures, they expect you and everyone else to rally around them, attempting to help and fix the perceived problem.
In fact, narcissists go to great lengths to involve everyone in their incredible sulk, seeking attention and sympathy from as many sources as possible. This strategy serves as a fallback plan, ensuring that if one person becomes fed up, they still have other potential sources of attention to turn to. Their entitlement fuels their belief that everyone owes them something, and when these needs go unmet, the incredible sulk is deployed as a means of broadcasting their discontent.
Various signs indicate an individual’s sulk, such as refraining from participating in activities or displaying an inability to eat. Such behaviours serve as pity plays, attempting to evoke sympathy from those around them. Furthermore, when family or friends are present, narcissists may become overtly rude, purposefully ignoring everyone while fixating on their phone or the television. Consequently, discomfort spreads throughout the room, discouraging further invitations.
In some instances, narcissists may even miss work for extended periods. This behaviour typically stems from feeling criticised or envious of those around them—a sentiment amplified by their jealous and envious disposition. The intensity of their sulk depends on where they fall on the narcissistic personality spectrum. Criticisms, whether fully understood or not, and instances where others seem to be experiencing more success, trigger their sulking as they perceive life and those around them as being treated more favourably.
To halt a narcissist’s incredible sulk, it is crucial to leave them be and refrain from providing any attention or acknowledgement regarding their sulking behaviour. Treat them as you normally would and encourage those around you to adopt the same approach. Narcissists resort to the incredible sulk as a means of seeking attention; thus, depriving them of the desired response can effectively deter the behavior.
It is important to note that when a narcissist engages in the incredible sulk, it is not indicative of depression. Rather, it serves as a manipulative tactic to elicit sole attention from their surroundings. Consequently, there is little value in questioning what is wrong or attempting to prompt communication as narcissists often fabricate excuses or withhold information altogether. Instead, one can offer help by stating, “How can I assist you? I am here if and when you are ready to talk.” Afterwards, it is best to leave them to their own devices, as it is impossible to force healthy communication upon someone who is unwilling. If the sulk occurs within a romantic relationship and you suspect that the individual is a narcissist, this may be an opportunity for you to safely detach yourself from the toxic situation.
If you suspect someone in your life might have narcissistic tendencies or if you believe they require professional help, remember to approach the situation with kindness and empathy. It is not your responsibility to directly intervene, but rather, you can inform someone else who may be better equipped to assist. In doing so, you can remove yourself from their manipulative games and prioritise your own well-being.
Remember, someone with depression needs help and support. Narcissists need supply, more often than not, narcissists aren’t depressed. They’re simply feeling sorry for themselves because they didn’t get their own way.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with (Sponsored.) BetterHelp. Where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.