The difference between a healthy self-esteem and a healthy dose of narcissism is like comparing apples and oranges. They are both undeniably sweet, but which is the bigger crime? In fact, we should ask ourselves this question: does the self-esteem or the narcissism in a person cause more harm than the other? The answer is most likely both. Narcissistic personality disorder is one of the more damaging forms of self-perception on earth.
However, narcissists are not without their own benefits. The narcissistic trait of grandiose self-absorption can often be a very attractive quality, especially for those who wish to project themselves as being highly intelligent, socially competent, and lacking in need of assistance. For instance, many ambitious young people today use social media websites such as Facebook and MySpace to market themselves, and they do so very effectively. Unfortunately, a lot of the “good guys” get caught up in the vicious cycle of self-promotion and narcissism, and these individuals are generally the ones who benefit the most from these activities. Unfortunately, when the bubble bursts, they find that all the social media contact they’ve made comes back to bite them in the backside, making it all too clear that narcissists have no business using social media in the first place.
On the other hand, self-esteem or a healthy dose of social dominance is not without its own dangers. A healthy dose of social dominance, for instance, may make a person feel secure and positive about his or her own existence, but it also allows the person to set expectations for others that are entirely inappropriate. When these expectations are not met, the person’s sense of insecurity grows even more, leading to the self-evaluation and subsequent narcissism. In a similar vein, self-esteem or a healthy dose of social dominance can also lead to feelings of social inferiority, which leads to feelings of false superiority – both of which can have serious consequences for a person’s life. So how can one be sure that the two are not connected?
The answer lies in understanding that there are two types of narcissism – social dominance and self-esteem. The former stems from feelings of power and control, while the latter stems from feelings of victimization and insecurity. The former type of narcissism, known as the “narcissistic personality disorder,” is pathological in nature and stems from a mental state that is pathological (but not necessarily so for all narcissists). Those who exhibit this type of pathology usually believe themselves to be “superior” to everyone else, and they view everyone else as lacking self-respect, making them feel guilty and worthless. This is the opposite of self-esteem.
Due to the lack of self-esteem, people with this personality disorder are usually incapable of forming and maintaining relationships, as they believe that other people have a lower standard of morality and should not be allowed near them. Narcissistic people have an inferiority complex and view others as nothing more than objects to be used or abused. They lack empathy and see nothing wrong with harming, hurting or controlling people that do not resemble their own image of perfection. For this reason, when these people feel threatened or hurt others, they resort to violence or to telling lies (or worse, doing something illegal) in order to control the other person or get back at the other person.
When a person has high self-esteem, however, that person views everything in a positive light – even himself. Therefore, they tend to look down on others and engage in acts of generosity and kindness. They also have a healthy self-image because they don’t take the help of alcohol or drugs to feel better, and they aren’t quick to anger or have bad manners. They also value their friendships and social relationships highly and always want to give without expecting something in return. The bottom line is, they value themselves so much that they will go to great lengths to ensure that they never lose those relationships and social status they have gained through their high self-esteem.
When a person with high self-esteem engages in narcissism, however, they view everyone else in the same way that they do – as objects to be manipulated and used. They can be so involved in their own self-dignity and sense of self that they fail to see the Others around them, such as their co-workers, friends and family members. While they may have had good relationships with them in the past, they fail to see how those relationships could be ruined, and they feel no feelings towards these people at all. Their lack of empathy for others results in them behaving like whiners and complainers instead of people who exude kindness and value.
If you want to make sure that you love yourself enough to protect yourself from narcissism, then it’s important to realize that you need to learn how to deal with people who are acting out through narcissism. It’s best to separate yourself from them as soon as possible. In order to do this, you need to keep a healthy distance. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore them or turn your back on them. Rather, you should attempt to cut them off from your life. If you feel that you can’t manage to do this effectively on your own, then consider seeking professional help – someone who can give you expert advice about dealing with people who are acting out through narcissism.