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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 May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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