A 12 Step Plan for Narcissists

Patti Maguire Armstrong


It might be premature to announce that we\’ve hit rock bottom, but how much lower can we go? We have become a nation of addicts – addicted to ourselves. We need a recovery program for the self-absorbed.

We don’t get to make the rules. Not on sex, or marriage, or life and death. Only God rules —“For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.”

Some want to serve God, but only as advisers. We often hear: “If there is a loving God, he would never _____(fill in the blank).”  Says who?  Be it skipping Mass or finding love in all the wrong places (i.e. outside of marriage) our narcissist culture imagines they call the shots.

Since the first step to overcoming a problem is to admit there is one, I suppose not too many narcissists will like my 12-step program. But since we all have self-absorbed tendencies, there’s no reason these steps cannot help anyone desiring more humility and less self-absorption.

12 Steps to Weaning Off Self-Centeredness

(Adapted from the original twelve steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous.)

  1. Admit we are powerless over the universe and everything in it. If you think otherwise, your life has become unmanageable.
  2. Come to believe that a power greater than yourself  (God and only God) can restore you to humility.
  3. Make the decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God. He is the Alpha and the Omega.
  4. Make a moral inventory of yourself in view of Churches teachings.
  5. Go to Confession.  Mercy, grace, and healing await.
  6. Have faith that God can remove all your defects of character. Then study the lives of the saints to learn that true character comes from obedience to God.
  7. Be humble. Die to yourself and fill up on God.
  8. Don’t put yourself down. That’s not humility but rather another form of self-absorption.
  9. Through prayer and meditation, seek to improve our relationship with God, praying for the desire to do his will
  10. Seek to serve others. 
  11. Don’t judge others. We are all on a journey
  12. Be a part of the New Evangelization!  Spread the Gospel through prayer, word and deed. 

 A Word from Some Experts

If there was ever one who had a right to be prideful, it was Jesus. Yet, Jesus was humble. “He who wants to learn true humility should reflect upon the Passion of Jesus.\” – St Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul

If humility is good enough for God, it’s good enough for me.  St Augustine once said “There is something in humility which strangely exalts the heart.” He also said: “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”  Oh, and this too: “Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.” Love that guy!

Better than not getting our way all the time, is letting God have his way in us. When we do that, the devil is the one who does not get his way. “The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.” – Saint Vincent de Paul

\”Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence; in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.\” – Saint Augustine

\”There is more value in a little study of humility and in a single act of it than in all the knowledge in the world.\” – Saint Teresa of Avila

\”Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars.\” – Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ

As I look back on my life, it seems that most of my dumbest mistakes occurred on the heels of pride. I have come to realize, that humility and obedience to God’s Church, with over 2,000 years of getting it right, are the way to go.  I avoid a lot of buffoonery this way. There are times that people think I’m a fool because of my values, but I know the company I keep. I’d rather be a fool for Christ than for the world.

© 2014. Patti Maquire Armstrong. All rights reserved.


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10 thoughts on “A 12 Step Plan for Narcissists”

  1. You need to read through the orangepapers.org on the history of the 12 steps which does not allow for Jesus Christ to complete a healing. “Once an addict always an addict”…….AA–was created by Masons to keep people from ever healing…please stay away from it and anything like this
    When you wake up you will see AA and NA and Alanon are nothing more then self centered never ending victimization. Jesus, is the way to focus on healing because all addictions are “worship” disorders.

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  3. Patti this is sooo cool! Wow I love the twelve steps. They are right on target including number 11! I love the quotes from the Saints. I will have to read this over and over again. I plan to use it as a devotional. God bless.

  4. Gail Jean Coniglio

    Thanks, Patti. This article is so needed in today’s society! I appreciate all your great work! Keep it coming! I am one of your biggest fans! 🙂

  5. I hope I’m being prudent about this post, I just got up. I don’t know if number 11 doesn’t need to be added to/changed, “Don’t judge others. We are all on a journey”. I think I might say, “Don’t judge others, that’s a grave sin, but, make careful judgments about the others around you and, if need be, run for your spiritual life”.

    1. I think this is why we judge their actions and their words– which is what we forgive and pray about. That’s different from judging the state of someone’s soul and their salvation.

      Besides, Scripture’s “judge not” is about bad judgment, not no judgement (as in: sins against God, ourselves, and others are somehow “okay,” because “Jesus said ‘don’t judge'”). We judge not a person’s soul or their salvation, because we can’t know the depths of that soul and where anyone is on the road to conversion. Any attempt will turn out to be foolish and horribly wrong– and therefore bad judgment– so we leave that to God.

      What you seem to be talking about, John, is prudence. It is indeed one of the virtues, and you’re spot on. There is a need for good, holy boundaries, even as we reach out to difficult people and learn to love them– because we often have to say “no” in order to properly steward what we’ve said “yes” to. God doesn’t ask us, for example, to recklessly allow a toxic person too much access to ourselves and our families, and whatever it is that they do that’s toxic, He doesn’t ask us to enable them to keep doing it. Sometimes, praying for them is all we can do– in the words of the Pope Emeritus: “in all humility we do what we can. Also in all humility, we leave the rest to God.” And He does meet us where we are.

    2. Moreover, though we do not judge the souls of others, or where they are on the road to conversion, we are called to admonish sinners and bear wrongs patiently as two of the corporal works of mercy. We are also called to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us.

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