There’s no arguing that our values as a culture have changed. We’ve gone from a more team-oriented lifestyle to one that focuses on the individual.
But that’s not necessarily bad, nor does it make you a narcissist. But is narcissism bad or just confidence?
Let’s say you have a friend who posts selfies of every meal with a billion hashtags. Aside from the selfies, they post a dozen statuses a day detailing how great their life is.
So what do you think: confidence or narcissism? The answer isn’t always easy, unfortunately, especially in the digital age.
And narcissism can be dangerous when it gets out of hand. Looking for a bit of help with your own or a loved one’s narcissism?
Here is a guide to whether you’re experiencing narcissism or a healthy dose of confidence.
What Is A Narcissist?
Let’s take a quick step back and evaluate the history of narcissism. The term itself originates from Greek mythology, stemming from a young man named Narcissus.
The young man wasn’t exactly shy and knew just how handsome he was. Like all Greek myths, however, there was a downfall.
Narcissus had his fair share of suitors but ultimately fell in love with himself. One day as he walked along the riverside, he noticed his own reflection.
He found himself so enamored with his own reflection that he found himself unable to move. His will to survive was zapped from his body, and he perished staring at his own reflection.
There’s a lot that this timeless tale can teach us.
For starters, consider the tale’s message. The story of Narcissus is one of extreme pride above all else. Throughout the story, Narcissus meets with many people, most of whom fall in love with him.
Yet he believes himself to be so beautiful and above it all that none of his suitors are worthy of his beauty.
But it’s important to remember how the story ends. It’s that very same pride that ends up destroying Narcissus. We may not die due to narcissism, but it can certainly harm us, can’t it?
Narcissism vs. Confidence
It’s a common misconception that those with high levels of self-confidence suffer from narcissism. In fact, we should encourage self-confidence.
Psychologists suggest that in order to love, we must first learn to love ourselves. But when does a healthy dose of self-confidence become narcissism and is narcissism bad? Let’s evaluate the core differences between both.
Narcissism is often defined as an overt infatuation with oneself or “excessive self-love”. Again, think of Narcissus: he had an extreme love of himself that proved to be his downfall.
But defining what is and isn’t excessive is another issue unto itself. After all, one person’s definition of excess may be different than their neighbor’s.
Ultimately, narcissistic personality disorder is quite similar to other behavioral disorders. It becomes a problem if it causes serious harm or disruptions to the daily lives of yourself and those around you.
But believe it or not, most narcissists don’t even think that highly of themselves. In fact, many narcissists suffer from low self-esteem. The result is an inflated need for attention or gratification that can cause issues.
So what exactly is confidence, and is it bad? Well, not quite. Think of narcissism and confidence as and Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde respectively. They’re two sides of the same coin, but that doesn’t mean they’re equally harmful (or harmless, for that matter).
Confidence is the belief in one’s self and their respective abilities. Let’s say you’re great at painting. It wouldn’t be narcissistic to tell others that you think you’re a pretty good painter.
If you were to say you were the best painter that ever lived, that may be a different story. However, strictly speaking, confidence and narcissism aren’t the same things.
What Narcissism Can Do In Everyday Life
Make no mistake, narcissism isn’t a good thing. In fact, it can be downright ugly, tearing apart relationships.
Those suffering from narcissistic personality disorder suffer from more than an inflated ego. They’ll often find a way to make any situation about themselves and are master manipulators.
Those raised by narcissists often struggle to see their own value in the world. They may feel bitter or angry and struggle to connect with others.
True narcissists don’t care who they hurt along the way. They just want to feel better about themselves.
Who May Be A Narcissist?
This is a tough question, but a common one all the same. In short, anyone can be a narcissist. Your boss, your partner, your parents, even yourself.
Personality disorders don’t discriminate. Depending on their upbringing and surroundings, virtually anyone can be a narcissist.
Is Narcissism Bad?
If it wasn’t already clear, yes, narcissism is quite harmful both to the person suffering from the disorder and those around them. As mentioned, it can dissolve treasured relationships and result in fractured lives.
Narcissism is something we tend to joke about a lot as a society, but the reality is that narcissism isn’t funny. However, there is hope.
What To Do If You Or Someone You Love Suffers From Narcissism
Narcissism isn’t developed overnight, and it won’t disappear in a flash either. But those living with narcissistic personality disorder aren’t condemned to a lonely life.
Get active in seeking treatment. For instance, many healthcare professionals will recommend psychotherapy as a treatment plan.
Of course, if you suspect someone close to you may be a narcissist, it isn’t always as easy as convincing them to get help.
If you’re concerned, make sure to address the problem directly. It can be scary, as narcissists often make us feel guilty about ourselves and our needs.
However, it’s important that you don’t back down. Stand your ground. Write out what you’d like to say if necessary. You deserve to speak your mind, especially if you’re hurt.
And don’t think you need to stay in a toxic relationship, either. Even if you’re dealing with a parent or spouse, staying with a narcissist who refuses to seek treatment won’t do either of you any good.
You’re only responsible for your own actions.
Is Narcissism Bad Enough That It’s Ruining Your Life?
So the question still stands: is narcissism bad or just a sign of confidence? Definitively, narcissism is harmful. However, that doesn’t mean it should be mistaken for confidence.
Interested in learning more about living with narcissism and what you can do? Get in touch with your question and don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list for helpful tips.
You owe yourself a better life. Narcissism may be painful, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it.