Narcissism gets a lot of press. It’s on the most unwanted list of personality types. To boot, it’s not just an undesired type – it’s a diagnosable disorder that needs psychotherapeutic treatment and a whole lotta insight to change.
But chances are, if you’re concerned about spending too much time on your own interests, then you’re probably not a narcissist. So take a breath.
There is a healthy amount of self interest and need for validation that helps us be successful and fulfilled. Everyone benefits from acknowledgement and appreciation. But there is a fine line that when crossed, becomes difficult to retract.
The narcissist receives their validation through constant admiration by others at any cost. And it can be destructive. Typically, they aren’t even aware of their problem until they feel depressed because of a lack of that validation.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders spells out criteria for the narcissistic personality. It includes these features:
- Exaggerated Self Importance
- Sense of Superiority
- Preoccupation with fantasies about success, fame, and the perfect mate.
- Sense of Entitlement
- Expectation of special favors
- Exploitation of others for own purpose
- Lack of Empathy – inability to recognize others’ feelings and needs
- Envy – of others and believing others envy them
- Arrogance or haughty behavior
Your stomach might be turning now. Clearly, these are not desired traits.
Don’t fret, there are a few easy ways to ensure you are not a narcissist.
- Speak AND Listen: When you really hear what others are saying, you are being present and available to them. You validate their needs and have put yours on hold. It shows you care.
- Let go of your agenda: Practice a mindful awareness of your surroundings. This includes attunement to interpersonal interactions, modulating intra-personal reactions, and noticing the details of your physical environment here and now.
- Walk in the other person’s shoes: Imagine what it is like to experience and share their story. Reflect what you hear. Validate them. Stop Judging.
- Adjust your expectations: Know that you are responsible for you. Others don’t owe you anything. Step up. Take action. Embrace what’s within your realm of control. Release the rest.
- Trust that you are loved: You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. You are special because you are you. When you believe in your true self without showing off to others – they will, too. Just be.
So where is that line between healthy self care and narcissism? Well, it’s somewhere between pride and arrogance, self esteem and disregard for others, love and exploitation, responsibility and entitlement, validation and superiority.
Keep yourself in check with realistic expectations. Value people and events. Balance give-and-take in relationships. Practice gratitude daily for what already exists in your life. Be compassionate toward yourself. Show your appreciation to others.
Get out of your head. Fully participate in the life that unfolds around you each and every moment. Make time to play. Live fully. Pause. Breathe. Love.
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