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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

[1] Psychology Today: Self-Esteem Versus Narcissism
[2] Psychology Today: Narcissistic Personality Disorder
[3] Elevation Health: Self-Love vs Narcissism
[4] The Narcissistic Life: What is the Difference between “Loving Yourself” and Narcissism?

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Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, writer, & plant-based food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Hope is not a strategy when it comes to change. Commitment is what is needed to make real change happen. Can people change? Absolutely, but exchanging your excuses for commitment is necessary to get started.

Human nature leans toward habits, which can become ingrained over the years, but that doesn’t mean habits can be undone.

The good news is that your personality and behaviors can be changed, but it is up to you. Below are some tips to help you get started with change.

1. Figure out What You Need to Change

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of something you would like to change. That’s great! The first step toward change is acknowledging that you have something you need to change.

Look at the repeated problems in your life, the issues that seem to come up time and time again. Do you keep gravitating toward the wrong relationships, but you blame the people you are choosing, rather than looking at your problem in the selection process?

Do you jump from one job to another, yet blame co-workers and bosses, rather than look at what you may be doing to cause problems and dissatisfaction on the job?

We are creatures of habit, so look at the negative patterns in your life. Then, look inside to see what’s causing these repeated life problems to occur. If you can’t figure it out on your own, consider going to a counselor for better understanding. Once you recognize the area that requires change, you can move to the next step.

2. Believe That Change Is Indeed Possible

There are people out there who believe that personality is unchangeable. When confronted with their problem, such as constant negativity, they lash back with “that’s just who I am.” It may be who you are, but does it need to be?

Change in personality and behaviors is possible. Nobody stays the same from one year to the next, let alone across a decade, so why not move change in the direction that is best for you? Be proactive about the change you want in your life, including the belief that change can occur.

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Look for success stories and people who have changed and done what you so deeply desire to do. Seeing that others have been where you have are and have accomplished the change you desire will help you in your process to accomplish that change.

3. List the Benefits of This Change

In order for people to change, they need to buy into the premise that the change is necessary for their betterment. For example, maybe your goal is to be more productive at work. There are many benefits that could come from this, including:

  • Getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
  • Having more time for your family.
  • Getting a promotion
  • Being liked and appreciated by your boss.
  • Being part of the success of the company.

One of the best ways to help yourself stick to the commitment of change is to make a list of the benefits that the change will bring in your life. Make one list of the benefits for your life and another for your loved ones. Recognizing the full spectrum of benefits, including how your change will affect those closest to you, will help you stick with the process of change.

When you have moments of weakness, or fail on a particular day or time, then getting back on track becomes easier when you review your list on a regular basis. Posting your “benefits of change” list somewhere where you see it often, such as a bathroom mirror, will help you be reminded of why you are doing what you are doing.

4. Make a Real Commitment to Change

Make a commitment to the time frame needed for the change to happen. If you want to lose 50 lbs., then set out a realistic plan of a few pounds per week and a timeline that reflects those goals.

It will take you a lot longer than a month, but setting realistic goals will help you stick to your commitment. Change happens one day at a time. It is not immediate, but over the course of time because of your dedication and commitment to the process.

It also helps if you make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.[1]

People can change using SMART goals

    An example of this would be a person who wants to become an active runner so they can tackle a half marathon. The first step would be to research what other people have done for training plans to achieve this goal.

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    Runners World lays out specifics for a beginner to train for a half marathon: “Target the Long Run: Every other week, increase your long run by 1.5 miles until you’re run/walking 13 to 14 miles. On alternate weeks, keep your long run to no longer than three miles. Your longest long run should fall two weeks before your half-marathon. Plan to take about 15 weeks to prepare for the big day.”[2]

    These kinds of specificities will help you create a personalized plan that is achievable and time-bound.

    You can learn more about writing SMART goals here.

    5. Create a Plan of Attack

    You need a set of steps outlined to succeed. This is why 12-step programs are so successful. You can’t simply walk into a meeting and be cured and changed. You need to mentally process the change in order for the change to be lasting and effective.

    Create a plan for your change. Be realistic and investigate what other people have done to change.

    For example, if you are dealing with anxiety and want to change that, then seek out therapy methods to address your problem. Stick with the therapy plan until your change process is complete. Simply hoping the anxiety will someday go away is not a plan.

    6. Commit to Action

    It is wonderful to set a goal for change and to write it down, but if you don’t act, then your mental commitment means nothing. There is no actual commitment unless action follows. To best kick start our change, the key is to act now[3].

    For example, if you committed to lose 50lbs, then now is the time to go join a gym, hire a trainer, and walk into a weight loss clinic to get support. We can make up our mind to be determined to change, but if action does not follow soon thereafter, then you will likely fail.

    If you wait until later that week, you will get caught up in doing your daily routine, things for works, taking care of others, or whatever it may be; there will be distractions that will derail you from taking action later. There is no better time to take action than when you make the decision to change.

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    For example, if you decide you want to finally write that book that is in your mind, but you don’t have a working laptop, then go and get a laptop today. Then, set aside an hour each day after work (and on your calendar) so that you can write. Instead of going out with friends after work, you are committing to achieve this goal, and you have time set aside to make that goal happen.

    7. Find a Support System

    When people want to change, finding a support system is key. A great way to find support is through group therapy or support groups. If you have a substance abuse issue, for example, you can find groups that specialize is supporting you through recovery and change.

    If you prefer to find support in the comfort of your own home, then you can look for online support forums and Facebook groups that deal with whatever change you are looking to pursue.

    Your ability to be successful in change is dependent on your ability to dive in; support systems help you with the initial dive and staying committed thereafter. and will help you stay committed to the process. Don’t underestimate the power you have by partnering with others who are seeking the same change.

    8. Get Uncomfortable

    Change should be uncomfortable. You are entering new territory and stepping out of your comfort zone. Your mind and past habits will be resistant to the change, as it is uncomfortable and difficult.

    If you give up because of the discomfort, then you are destined to fail in your pursuit of change. Embrace the discomfort associated with change and recognize that it puts you one step closer to accomplishing your goals.

    9. Stick to the Plan

    When people decide to change, sticking to it is difficult. If you get derailed from your plan, don’t berate yourself. Instead, allow yourself some margin of error and then get back on track.

    You can’t expect to go on a diet without splurging sometimes. The key is “sometimes.” The sooner you get back on track, the more successful you will be in accomplishing your change goals.

    Other researchers on the topic of change believe this process is about dedication and commitment to the change desired in our day to day lives, as Douglas LaBier from the Huffington Post so aptly stated:[4]

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    “Change occurs from awareness of what aspects of our personality we want to develop, and working hard to “practice” them in daily life.”

    Here are some tips on sticking to a plan:

    Engage in Self-Reflection

    Reflect on things that have derailed you in the past and problem solve them before they happen.

    Jot down those things that tend to get you off track. Now, list ways to combat the derailments before they happen. For example, if you are wanting to lose weight but you work late hours, then commit to morning workouts.

    If you know that in the past you would continually hit the snooze button and subsequently miss the workouts, then hire a trainer for early morning workouts. You are less likely to miss your workout if you have real money attached to it and someone counting on you to show up. You could also schedule morning workouts with a friend, so you know there is someone showing up and you don’t want to let them down.

    Brainstorm solutions for your past derailments so that this time around you are ready to stick to the plan and the commitment you have made to change.

    Define Your Commitment

    Commitment is a daily mental and physical plight when it comes to change. If your commitment is to lose weight, then be specific about how you are going to achieve your change. For example, you decide you are going to stick to 1,800 calories a day and a 1-hour workout every day.

    Then, write those goals down and chart your daily progress. Hold yourself accountable.

    Final Thoughts

    Can people change? Hopefully, by now, you believe that they can. If you have a sense of commitment and persistence, change is possible with any life experience.

    Start small, create specific goals, and don’t wait to get started. You’ll be amazed how far change will take you.

    More on How to Make Changes in Your Life

    Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

    Reference

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