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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

How We Are Confusing Self-Love with Narcissism In This Generation

How We Are Confusing Self-Love with Narcissism In This Generation

For a healthy mentality, it is of the utmost importance that we as individuals learn to love and accept ourselves. But as with anything else, there is a limit to this love. And if allowed to transform into a kind of obsession, then you may be dealing with narcissism.

In today’s society, it is considered taboo to relish and love yourself openly and may be mistaken for narcissism. When in all actuality, this is just an exhibit of high self esteem. So where is the distinction?[1] When does high self-esteem and love for oneself breach the dangerous curve into narcissism?

Self love is the unapologetic act of accepting oneself, putting yourself first, and being proud and confident in your achievements. This is a healthy mentality, unlike narcissism.

Narcissism is a personality disorder where the individuals have an inflated sense of self-importance and a total lack of empathy.[2] They believe that they are superior to most people, and can only be understood by those who are also equally as special. This sense of prestige comes at a price, and is incredibly delicate. Those with narcissistic disorders need constant reassurance from their peers, because their self-esteem is actually incredibly fragile.

Self Love vs. Narcissism

Video Summary

Need for Recognition

Self Love: Those who have high self-esteem and practice self love don’t need recognition or congratulations for their accomplishments. They are well aware of their efforts and their success, and that knowledge is more than enough to feel adequate.

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Narcissism: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If a narcissist accomplishes success and no one is around to witness it, is it truly a success? The answer in this case is no. Without recognition and praise, they may as well not have accomplished anything at all. It makes the win feel empty, because they only receive satisfaction from the admiration of others.

Identifying flaws within one's self

Self Love: Everyone has flaws and idiosyncrasies that makes them an individual. Those who love themselves accept their flaws, and work to improve them if need be. They understand that those quirky little bits of themselves are what make them unique.

Narcissism: They act as if they do not posses any flaws. Everything they do, they do it better than anyone. Everything they have is better than what you have. If someone notices that they exhibit a flaw, it must be a misconception, because there is no way that any aspect of themselves could be anything less than perfect.

Knowing who you are-and being comfortable with it

Self Love: In lieu of self acceptance, these individuals are totally comfortable being themselves, and appreciate who they are and what they offer. They do not feel that they need to make any vast changes to themselves or their lives in order to achieve happiness, because they already are.

Narcissism: They are never happy with who they are and what they have. They often find themselves fantasizing about a more ideal lifestyle, job, or appearance. They never truly feel satisfied with any aspect of their life. They think that they deserve better, but put not effort forth to achieve their desires.

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Humility is a virtue

Self Love: They have a strong sense of empathy and humility. They support and encourage others to do better, and are proud of their successes.

Narcissism: They can’t handle seeing others doing well. They cannot help but feel jealous, and will find a way to undermine their success in order to feel that they still have the upper hand. The common phrase, “misery loves company,” is all too appropriate in this circumstance.

Perception of other's emotions

Self Love: These individuals are receptive to others emotions, and can level with their struggles and pain. They will offer advice and assistance if they can, and genuinely care about the outcome of their struggling friends situation.

Narcissism: Although they may fake concern, they genuinely do not care about others struggles. In fact, they feed off of it. That’s one less person who is doing well in this world, and that makes them feel better about themselves.

Perception of others as individuals

Self Love: Appreciation of others is a strong attribute of those who have high self esteem. They see other individuals as valuable, and celebrate their existence. These people tend to be good friends, because they are incredibly supportive and understand that it takes all sorts of people to make a fully functioning world.

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Narcissism: They do not view others as valuable. The only value they see in others is an opportunity to use them for their own benefit. Narcissists tend to surround themselves with other narcissists. The “special” people. The “elite.” No one else is worthy of their time. Gag.

Competition with peers

Self Love: With high self esteem, it is easy to view others as your equals. Each person is just that, another person trying to make it in this world and try to achieve happiness.

Narcissism: Narcissists always need to be doing better than their peers, or at least give off the illusion that they are. They thrive off of dominance and manipulation. They are not truly happy unless they feel that they are in complete control. They need for all of their efforts to be celebrated, and for themselves and people to be worshiped. Typically, narcissists will gravitate towards careers and hobbies that exhibit themselves as the center of attention.

Narcissists spend most of their time alone, because most people can identify their toxic behavior.

Signs of narcissistic behavior tend to rear their ugly heads in the early years of adulthood; typically in men. 50-70% of those who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder are male. The cause of this is unknown. Perhaps it is a combination of chemical composition, upbringing, and experiences during childhood.

Typically, boys are taught that they are special and superior throughout their entire lives. While this may seem like positive reinforcement, if the praise is not administered appropriately, these boys may grow up to be men who believe that they are better than everyone else.

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Narcissism is incredibly toxic behavior, and will repel anyone from your life who can identify these disturbing features. That’s why people with this disorder tend to have few friends, and spend the majority of their time alone. They distort this rejection from others as their own personal rejection. Because they are better than everyone else, and no one is worthy of their precious time.

Find a happy medium. It’s okay to love yourself, but don’t let it turn into obsession.

With the introduction of social media, it is easier to spot narcissists because they showcase themselves daily. You know that girl or guy who posts multiple selfies a day, and is constantly changing their profile pictures? They are doing this for the recognition. They want people to see them, and to celebrate their beauty. The likes and comments they receive feed their innate need for worship. Outlets such as Instagram and Facebook has made it alarmingly normal to constantly demand attention from peers and strangers alike.

Unless those who suffer from NPD seek therapy,[3] it is unlikely that they can amend their behavior, because they are oblivious to the fact that they suffer from this disorder. That kind of reflection would prove that they are imperfect; something that does not compute in the mind of a narcissist.[4]

How to nurture self-love without allowing it to evolve into narcissism.

1. Do not put such a strong emphasis on your external attributes.

Narcissism is incredibly superficial. Don’t worry so much about the image that you put out and how people perceive you. Instead worry about how to perceive yourself, and which qualities can be improved upon on a realistic level.

2. Don’t compare yourself to others and their success.

Relish in your own success, and create personal goals to work on. Very few people have been handed their success. They had to plan and work very hard to get to where they are. You will reach that same level of prestige if you are willing to put the work in.

3. You can’t improve your self confidence by convincing yourself that you are better than everyone else.

Because the truth is, you don’t have much to offer other than your arrogance. Instead, improve your skills; or develop new ones. Being an expert on a subject, or a master of a craft will improve your sense of self immensely. You will be celebrated for your accomplishments, and will develop confidence from knowing that you are valuable and talented.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, freelance writer, & plantbased food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2018

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1]Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2]Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3]Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4]Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5]Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6]The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7]Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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