Narcissism vs. Celebrating Positive Attributes

Throughout the years, I’ve heard a lot of people in my personal and professional life expressing the worry that if they are proud of their accomplishments and/or a desirable attribute they have, that they will feel and/or be labeled as a narcissist/narcissistic. This language has been thrown around quite a bit lately in the main stream culture with various political figures and over emphasized.

It’s important that we recognize and celebrate our strengths and accomplishments as humans. It’s a source of reinforcement, which helps us motivate ourselves. Without it our species would not have accomplished what we have (ie. scientific discoveries, infrastructure, our beautiful cities, improving quality of life, medicine, ect…). It also helps us learn basics like the difference between what is “good” and “bad” behaviour in society.

Narcissism is completely different from acknowledging your accomplishments and positive attributes. However, it is important to point out that bragging typically isn’t a desirable quality; therefore we need to seek balance here. A person who experiences some narcissistic traits, pathological narcissism or what may be considered a Narcissistic Personality disorder may be attempting to prop up a false sense of self worth, which is usually somewhat out of conscious awareness of the person. These people are deeply hurting and in a lot pain, mostly in part due to extremely painful experiences in childhood. The core wound of these people is usually that they were humiliated and devalued to some degree at a young age. This could develop an internal working model of something like “people won’t like me for who I am and therefore I am deeply flawed and will be rejected if I show who I truly am”. Hence the false sense of self.

In our present day experience with people with these traits one may feel on guard (ie walking on egg shells). It can be difficult to empathize and/or sympathize with people experiencing this because their behaviours and attitudes (For example, trying to believe that they are better), which may elicit an emotional response in you. You may feel activated, defensive and/or dismissed in some way. You may notice that you may feel certain unpleasant physical sensations. A person with narcissistic traits usually has empathy; however it is likely impaired by their deep pain and defense mechanisms to get them through life. Because some people get Narcissism and Psychopathy/Sociopathy confused I think it is important to note that: Psychopathy and sociopathy is different, although a very few number of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be psychopaths, but the odds are very low that you will come across this.

In short, feel proud of your accomplishments, and who you are physically and mentally. If you are proud of an attribute that you have, recognize and bring a sense of gratitude to it. Humble yourself, to not alienate others of course, but please be careful when labeling yourself as a narcissist or a characteristic as narcissistic. Seek assistance if you think you need to.

We are all, just by being born into this world, deserving human beings, who have the right to be liked, loved and accepted by ourselves and others.

Take care of yourself, so you can take care of those you love.


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