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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 January 6, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1]University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2]Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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