#11: Delusions of Grandeur

Posted on July 22, 2013


Happy young princess

Several years ago, some friends of mine threw an “American Idol” party. I’ve never really been into television and so I just went because, well, hey, it’s a party, right? And having never seen American Idol before, there were two things that really surprised me when I first saw it. The first one was how incredible some of the singers were. Never having had any kind of voice training or professional guidance or career coaching, some of those people were still able to get up on stage and sing their hearts out. Some of them even gave me goosebumps. These people seemed to also be genuinely surprised when they received standing ovations or when the judges deemed them good enough to proceed to the next level.

Do you know what else surprised me, though? How truly terrible some of the singers were and how completely removed from reality they seemed to be.

“Is this some kind of joke?” I asked my loyal American Idol watching friends. “Do they purposely put awful singers up there to make it interesting? Do some of these people actually think that they’re good enough to sing in public?”

I was told that, although some of this was probably done for the dramatic and humorous effect it had on ratings, that yes, some of the most god-awful singers actually thought that they had a chance. In addition to the misplaced confidence that inspired them to get up on stage in the first place, they also seemed angry and shocked that they weren’t chosen for the next round.

We’ve all met people like this in our lives. People who are completely out of touch with their flaws. These are the people who seem intent on showing us just how important and superior they are to others.  It’s not that they’re insecure and trying to make themselves sound more important than they are to boost their self-esteem. It’s that they suffer from delusions of grandeur. They actually think they are better than you and me. 

I often find this personality trait alongside #3: Arrogant Entitlement. Those who suffer from delusions of grandeur often insist that they get the VIP seats when they’re not VIPs, that they deserve special treatment when they’ve done nothing special, and that unless you acknowledge their superiority to the rest of the human race, you are not worth their time.

You can always tell who these people are because they seem to possess an abundance of arrogance and a dearth of healthy self-doubt. They never tell you they’re struggling with any kind of inner conflict or unsure of how to handle a sticky situation (because they’re always sure their way is the best way), they never ask for advice (because they’re too busy giving it to others), they never discuss life lessons they’ve learned from mistakes (because, according to them, they’ve never made any mistakes) and they’re always telling you how awesome they are and how awesome all of their ideas are. 

In addition, they often get irate at any perceived slight that usually has to do with status (ie: How dare she ask me to stand so the pregnant woman could sit! Doesn’t she know how important I am!) and yes, they are often completely shocked that the rest of the world doesn’t share in their delusion. 

When you see this trait, get out before the relationship really gets started. I grew up with a parent who suffered from delusions of grandeur and trust me when I say that this is not a relationship you want to invest any of your time in. With someone like this, you will be expected to be in their fan club and your importance to them will depend on how loyal a fan you are. You will be expected to worship them and uphold their twisted perception of grandeur. And as soon as you state a dissenting opinion, as soon as you say something they perceive as threatening to their inflated ego, they will rage at you and ostracize you and try to make you pay.

These people have to be some of the most unhealthy relationship partners possible. When you see someone trying to get you to buy into their delusion, it’s time for you to ground yourself back into reality and move on.