All of us have some characteristics and behaviors that fall into the category of narcissism. Narcissism is on a continuum from mild, occasional, and subtle to the more ubiquitous, obvious or extreme behaviors of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Since narcissism is likely a part of everyone’s ego wounded self, it is helpful to your personal growth and development to be aware of your own level of narcissism.
Be honest with yourself – but not judgmental – regarding the presence and intensity of the following characteristics:
- I generally take others’ rejecting, critical, harsh, shut-down, or diminishing behavior personally. I tell myself that when others choose to behave in uncaring ways toward me, it is my fault – it is about me not being good enough or me doing something wrong. I make others’ choices – to be open or closed, loving or unloving – about me.
- I frequently judge and shame myself, trying to get myself to do things “right” so that I can have control over getting others’ love, attention or approval. Getting others’ love, attention and approval is vital to me.
- I make others responsible for my worth, value, sense of aliveness and fullness. Others have to be kind, loving, approving of me, or sexually attracted to me, for me to feel that I’m okay. When others ignore me or are not attracted to me, I feel unworthy, depressed or empty inside.
- I have a hard time having compassion for myself, so I expect others to have compassion for me when I feel anxious, depressed, angry, shamed or guilty, rather than taking responsibility for my own feelings. If others lack compassion for me or criticize me, I turn things around onto them, and blame them.
- I lack empathy and compassion for the feelings of others, especially when I’ve behaved in ways that may be hurtful to others. I have a hard time recognizing or identifying with the feelings and needs of others.
- When someone offers me valuable information about myself, or ‘tough love’, I see it as an attack, rather than as a gift, and I generally attack back.
The DSM IV – The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, states about people suffering from a Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
“Vulnerability in self-esteem makes individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder very sensitive to “injury” from criticism or defeat. Although they may not show it outwardly, criticism may haunt these individuals and may leave them feeling humiliated, degraded, hollow and empty.
They may react with disdain, rage, or defiant counterattack. Such experience may lead to social withdrawal or an appearance of humility. Interpersonal relations are typically impaired due to problems derived from entitlement, the need for admiration, and the relative disregard for the sensitivities of others.”
- When in conflict with someone, or when someone behaves in a way I don’t like, I often focus on getting them to deal with what they are doing, rather than focus on what I’m doing. I make them responsible for my choices and feelings, and I believe things will get better if I can get them to change.
- I feel entitled to get what I want from others – whether it’s money, sex, attention or approval. Others ‘owe’ me.
- I often try to get away with things, such as not having to follow the rules or the law, and I’m indignant when I’m called to the carpet.
- I see myself as special and entitled to do what I want, even if it’s harmful to others.
- I believe I should get credit for what I do and I should be recognized as superior, even if I do a mediocre job.
- I am so unique and special that only other unique and special people can understand me. It is beneath me to associate with people who are not as special as I am. While some think I am arrogant, it is only because I’m truly so unique and special.
- Because I’m so special, I have the right to demand what I want from others, and to manipulate others – with my charm, brilliance, anger or blame – into giving me what I want.
Again, all of us have some of these characteristics and it is important to learn about them, rather than judge ourselves for them.
Narcissism can be healed. When you learn and consistently practice the Six Steps of Inner Bonding, you learn to define your own worth, to give yourself the love and compassion you need to feel full inside, and to share love with others.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process – featured on Oprah.
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