There’s no middle ground.
You either recognize their deception, in which case you lose even the last bits of respect, or they trap you in their web of tricks and you fall for the cult of personality.
I’m talking about men and women who treat themselves as stars of our universe. Those who believe that everything and everybody should spin as they command.
They are the egomaniacs of this world.
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, an “egomaniac is someone who considers themselves to be very important and able to do anything that they want.”
If you have one as a friend, they can drown you in toxicity. If they secure a position of power, they don’t hesitate to milk it dry.
In my 30 years on this beautiful planet, I’ve had the privilege to interact with plenty of them. And since we live in an interconnected world, I have observed many more from the comfort of my home.
Hanging out with egomaniacs is a slippery slope. Their impact on your life can shift from annoying to outright dangerous.
In this article, I outlined five dangerous traits that define them.
1. They Assume the Role of the Messiah
People with bipolar disorders or schizophrenia often suffer from the Messiah complex, which American Psychological Association defines as “the desire and compulsion to redeem or save others or the world.”
Bipolar disorders are no joke. I witnessed how the Messiah complex looks in reality when my dearest friend started to identify as Jesus Christ. Doctors later diagnosed him with bipolar disorder and he endured some tough times.
People with bipolar disorders are not harmful, maybe to themselves. But egomaniacs assume the savior role consciously. They love when people beg them to descend among us mortals and alleviate us from our suffering.
Attention, praise, and glory are their most cherished fruits.
Just take a quick look at the most famous egomaniac of our times and proud manchild Donald Trump. He was so adamant in his role of Messiah, he was willing to burn every bridge he ever walked.
In this interview, when asked about the trade wars with China, he literally states:
“I am the chosen one.”
To complete the perfect picture, he nonchalantly nods his head towards the sky and greets his figurative father, God.
This trait doesn’t manifest only in grandiose situations. Your egomaniac doesn’t have to be President who had pledged to drain the swamp only to drag everybody into it.
It can be a friend who invited a bunch of people for dinner, promised a tremendous feast, and when it ended in disaster, he made everybody pay for their pizza delivery … and expected gratitude.
They do everything to feed their ego and require others to do the same.
2. They Are Strangers to the Concept of Empathy
“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.”
— Mohsin Hamid
Don’t expect egomaniacs to hear those echoes because their ears are full of themselves. You might get the impression that they’re listening, but it’s one ear in, the other one out.
Unless they recognize tangible benefits in helping you, in which case, they’re all in. But don’t expect them to be at hand when you want to share the happiness of your success or release the pain of your struggle.
Since ego consumes egomaniacs’ whole perception of reality, they don’t have the capacity to consider the highs and lows of other people.
Their interest is the only relevant issue.
3. They Will Exploit You and Dump You
Egomaniacs treat everybody else as a commodity. Any relationship is a mere transaction.
Do you have something to offer? If so, let’s negotiate your price.
If they recognize your worth, they will try to lure you into cooperation. They may even persuade you to act in conflict with your morals. Prove yourself and they will take care of their precious asset.
But stop delivering the goods and they will dump you. Isn’t it what we do with worn-out goods?
After all, they treat relationships as a zero-sum game; one’s gain always equals someone’s loss. In egomaniacs’ world, the only chance for two people to thrive is when they join forces and exploit someone else. But there is always a loser.
They will do anything to be on the victorious side.
4. Truth Is Just an Opinion
If it fits their agenda, egomaniacs will dress even the most obscene claims as truth.
They will bend it, twist, and abuse it. Their worldview is simple — if enough people believe it, anything can become true.
Although emotions always determined our actions, reason and common sense have become the archvillains of the post-factual age. It’s the side effect of the interned-dominated world.
It has never been easier to verify the truth. It has never been easier to manufacture a lie.
It is the fertile ground for egomaniacs.
A society that promotes voices of reason can hold these individuals accountable, but we have little defense when emotions control the discourse.
Once again, I turn my attention to the former President of the United States. Fact Checker, The Washington Post’s feature led by the Pulitzer Price-winning journalist Glen Kessler, has reported more than 30 000 false or misleading claims during Trump’s presidency.
We can argue about their methodology, funding, or partisan allegiance, but the number is just too damn high to ignore.
For Donald Trump and his fellow egomaniacs, truth has always been a nuisance rather than an ideal to strive for.
5. They Will Burn Down the Forest to Save Themselves
What follows when you take away a child’s favorite toy? A hysterical outburst.
Stripped to the core, egomaniacs are just spoiled children who haven’t accepted they are part of the universe. Part, not the center.
Their way is the only way and anything else is heresy.
Deny them a place in the sunshine and they will burn down the entire forest to have their revenge.
Since the third time’s a charm, let’s use Trump’s case to highlight this trait. When he lost the November presidential election, he almost burned the entire USA down. Instead of acknowledging his loss, for two months, he amplified his claims about the stolen election and stirred hatred and violence.
His refusal to face reality led to an infamous day when his supporters stormed the US Capitol. You can read my perspective in this article:
When battling for their own survival, egomaniacs will use any available resources. There is no sacred ground, everything is allowed.
I aspire to spread a positive message. I don’t bash people, promote fear or sow the seeds of doubt. However, there are many people who do exactly that.
If they are willing to go the distance to achieve their goals, you should do the same. Conflict should be the last resort, but always stand firm and hold your ground.
If anything is worth fighting for, it’s the high ideals of love, liberty, and community.
When you pursue high ideals, it’s imperative you don’t float in the clouds and stay grounded.
When you pursue high ideals, it’s imperative you stay conscious of people who pursue only their own.