What is narcissism in moderation? Basically, taking the good narcissistic tendencies and rejecting the bad. Many psychologists refer to two types of narcissism: healthy and unhealthy. The fundamental difference between these two types is the person's sense of self. Unhealthy narcissists lack a stable, healthy self-esteem. To compensate for feelings of inadequacy, the unhealthy narcissist exaggerates self-worth and importance.
The healthy narcissist has a stable and sound self-esteem, so there is little need for grandiosity and power-grabbing. The healthy narcissist is still confident and ambitious, but these feelings are grounded in a realistic view of personal strengths and talents.
How do you cultivate healthy narcissism?
It comes back to moderation and hopefully it starts from an early age. You certainly want your children to be confident, ambitious, and successful. At the same time, kids should be kind, considerate, and thoughtful. Instead of teaching kids to “win at all costs”, the focus should be on giving a great effort. This doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t want to win, it means their self-esteem should include both the outcome and their effort. The same goes for academics. If your child tries their best, be happy with the effort regardless of the outcome.
As for adolescence into adulthood and beyond, reflect on your successes. Did you reach milestones on your own merit or through exploitation and deceit? Did you consider the feelings of others or only focus on what was important to you? There is no easy answer, but most people have a sense of whether their successes are their own, someone else's or a combination.
What are everyday signs of unhealthy narcissism?
Unfortunately there are unhealthy narcissists everywhere. Here are a few signs that someone might be a narcissist:
Showing compassion for a friend, but taking pleasure at their failures/difficulties.
Someone who can't see their faults or take any responsibility for a mistake.
The inability to apologize; it's always the other person's fault.
Someone who only talks about themselves or takes your successes and makes them their own.
Taking someone's concern as criticism, and responding defensively and critically.
The inability to empathize; lacking the ability to see the world from a perspective different from their own.
These are just a few of the many types of interactions with unhealthy narcissists. For me, when I find myself wanting to roll my eyes during a conversation, that's a signal that someone might be a narcissist, the unhealthy type.
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