What Is Narcissism?

Image of narcissist and his dummy

Narcissism - When it’s Healthy and When it’s Not

Updated 5/12/2016

Love yourself - but don’t be conceited. Take care of yourself - but put others first. Stay focused on your goals - but don’t crow about your accomplishments. Succeed at all costs - but don’t put yourself in front of anyone else.

With all this contradictory ‘wisdom’ imparted to us growing up, is it any wonder people are confused and have trouble getting along? Frankly I am tired of all the talk about healthy and unhealthy narcissism
as if they are similar, so today I am going to unpack this whole subject and break it right down!

Healthy and unhealthy narcissism are NOT on a spectrum

The symptoms of each can't possibly blur into each other - because healthy and unhealthy narcissism are two completely different outlooks on life. If your husband loves you or loves someone else, can that be considered the same thing? Of course it can’t and it’s not! In a similar way . . .

Healthy narcissism is about loving and caring for yourself - While unhealthy narcissism is about loving and caring for a false fantasy idea of yourself self you have created in your own mind.

So these two really can’t be considered similar at all.

Quite simply a person caught in the trap of unhealthy narcissism has so little love for themselves that they have invent a pretend self to hide from their own shame. There is no spectrum; healthy and unhealthy narcissism are opposite extremes.

Can you look at your own weaknesses and faults? Do you need to blame your shame about yourself on someone else?

Healthy Narcissism

  • Greets people (including close family and friends) confidently and warmly (by name) looking them in the face and smiling.
  • Can be objective about their own faults and weaknesses.
  • Can be objective about their own talents and skills.
  • Can relax and feel comfortable around people of all ages and not afraid to hear what other people think.
  • Can put their point of view across without putting anyone else down.
  • Is compassionate.
  • Is patient.
  • Feels relaxed and comfortable in their own skin.
  • Wins friends easily with interesting people.
  • Maintains healthy and close personal relationships with their family including their spouse and kids.
  • Enjoys life even when things are not going to plan.
  • Is naturally influential.
  • Is their own best friend.
  • Lives with ease and peace within themselves.
  • Enjoys intimate and gratifying sex.

Unhealthy Narcissism

  • Jealous and unhappy with their lot in life.
  • Competitive and obsessed with being the best.
  • Charming in public (and when they want something) but critical, rude and sarcastic to their close friends and family in private.
  • Talk badly about people (including their friends and family behind their back).
  • Only comfortable relating to a small group of peers.
  • Multiple relationship break downs.
  • Damage to business and reputation.
  • Nervous breakdown.
  • Wrongly accuses and punishes others.
  • Child neglect and abuse.
  • Puts their own need for love and attention before their own and their families well being and best interests.
  • Can’t ever admit they are wrong.
  • Feels superior but alone.
  • Feels trapped in a bubble that separates them from others.
  • Impersonal and/or unsatisfying sex.
Now while this false self is as constraining as an 18th century corset and as painful to live with as a tyrant or drunk (as many narcissists are), most people with narcissistic tendencies will still continue to protect this false image of themselves at all costs. This is because they feel too vulnerable to let their pretense down and feel the trade off is better than facing their own shame.

Because of this you are best not try and hold a mirror up to this person's bad behavior or remind them of their faults and weaknesses unless you want to find yourself rejected or dealing with an open (or covert) assault.

What to do? Please Continue Reading here . . .

Narcissism in Yourself
Narcissism in Your Partner
Why Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Marriage Counsellors Come to us for Relationship Advice . . . 

Narcissism does not need to be a death sentence for your marriage--but it won't get better by itself!

Kim Cooper

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