What is healthy narcissism? How is it different from self-love?
Is self-love narcissistic? Is some narcissism healthy? Find out what, when and how narcissism can be helpful and what makes it toxic. A healthy narcissism is a positive sense of self related to self-worth and self-esteem. But is he really healthy? Let’s find out.
“Loving yourself is the beginning of a lifelong romance” – Oscar Wilde.
Known for his wit and irony, did Wilde mean narcissism or genuine self-love? There is a difference. His use of the word “romance” suggests the former. This is a key to distinguishing the two concepts.
Unlike real love, romantic love is filtered through illusions and idealizations. In the romantic phase of a relationship, the intense feelings are mostly based on projection and physical pleasure. Everything is rosy because we don’t really know the other person and don’t see their weaknesses.
In Wilde’s novel about narcissism, Dorian Gray, Dorian, a narcissist, falls in love with his appearance in a portrait of himself, just as the mythological narcissist loved his own reflection in a pool of water. Both he and Dorian were incapable of caring for or loving another human being. They were unaware of their arrogance, entitlement, and cruelty to the women they loved.
A comparison of self-love and narcissism
True self-love means that we love our weaknesses and flaws. It goes beyond self-esteem, which is a self-assessment.
We fully accept ourselves. Unlike Dorian, who could not bear the thought of growing old while his portrait remained young, when we love ourselves we are bound to our ageless selves.
Self love makes us humble. We have no need to hide behind a facade of false pride. We also do not idealize or glorify ourselves, nor do we deny or hide our weaknesses and flaws. Instead, we embrace all of our humanity.
Narcissism, the personality disorder
Behind narcissistic arrogance lies self-loathing. Narcissists cannot take it when they are wrong or criticized. Therefore, they are defensive and hypersensitive.
But when they receive admiration and attention, they are happy, which reflects their immaturity. Like a tyrant, her inner shame makes her relentlessly critical of others. You can dish out, but you can’t take it. Her swagger and swagger make her insecure.
To compensate, they want to associate only with people and institutions of high status and despise those they consider inferior.
In a narcissist’s world, things are black and white. They believe that they always succeed or fail, and their mood swings accordingly. They don’t make room for mistakes or mediocrity, which can infuriate them.
Self -empathy , on the other hand, allows us to accept ourselves and our shortcomings and to empathize with others.
Early in my recovery, I had dreams about becoming more narcissistic. The problem was that I didn’t rate myself highly enough.
Freud identified a natural, narcissistic stage in child development in which young children feel they own the world. You can suddenly walk and want to explore everything. People with narcissistic personality disorder get stuck in their early development and do not mature further.
There are theories as to the cause of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which features negative aspects of narcissism such as entitlement, exploitation, and a lack of empathy.
Freud found that a degree of self-focus and introspection is essential to the development of a healthy ego structure. Healthy narcissism allows us to have confidence and invest in ourselves to succeed.
Research shows that because of their high self-esteem, narcissists have a sense of well-being with low levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. People who are not self-centered are at higher risk for mental disorders.
Addicts are attracted to narcissists who have qualities like courage, confidence, and power that they lack. In contrast, they don’t believe in or invest in themselves and instead help others.
Some children get their natural pride suppressed by a domineering, critical parent . They carry toxic shame within them. Think of false pride and shame as opposite ends of a spectrum. Neither is a good place to live. It can be said that narcissists are unaware of their shame. They act in a way that is shameless.
For addicts and those with low self-esteem, healthy pride is unconscious. While people can admire them and compliment them, they don’t feel like they deserve and trust them.
One goal of recovery is to fall closer to center where we can feel pride without being arrogant. Our greater self-esteem improves our lives, creativity, resilience, and mood.
We gain a healthy sense of self and ambition that enhances our self-efficacy and ability to achieve our goals. With high self-esteem, we expect that we will succeed and can also handle disappointments and failures. We are not defensive and can accept feedback. We ask for what we want and should also seek it.
Our sense of self empowers us to face abuse or disrespect. Because we feel worthy, we don’t hesitate to say no and set boundaries . Nevertheless, we have empathy and are considerate of others. While we try to find our wants and needs, we do not manipulate, control, vengeance, envy, or take advantage of others.
Recovery is a journey of self-love. Yet people who seek themselves are sometimes called narcissistic because they focus on themselves as part of their recovery. They typically need to learn to hold more of themselves, increase their self-esteem, and set boundaries that reflect their self-care.
Others may label them selfish and overly self-centered. However, this is very different from narcissism. Narcissists do the exact opposite. They don’t look after themselves, take responsibility, or feel the need to improve. To do this or to help you would be an admission that they are imperfect, that they have a weakness. Instead, they blame others.