It is easy to draw a distinction between healthy self-esteem and unhealthy narcissism. Healthy self-esteem is related to general positive feelings towards others and, as such, will foster the willingness and ability to trust them completely. Narcissistic self-esteem, on the other hand, stems from a deep need for power that comes from comparing yourself to others and seeing them as their very best. The end result – self-doubt, anxiety and a lack of focus – can make a person desperate for others’ approval. When someone has this quality, it is clear to see why the dangers of narcissistic personality disorder are so serious.
But what about narcissism? Are there any personality traits or behaviors that relate to the lack of self-discipline, lack of focus or negativity that stem from a personality disorder? A new research point made by a leading journalist sheds some light on this issue. In her recent article “Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Self-Esteem: A Meta-analytic Review,” Associate Professor Marie Pasinski discusses several personality traits associated with narcissistic behavior. The research points to narcissists displaying these traits more frequently in those who have low self-esteem, leading researchers to conclude that narcissists have a unique form of “psychological hunger” that can lead to poor self-image and lower self-esteem.
The first step to understanding the difference between self-esteem vs. narcissism is to recognize that people differ in terms of how they evaluate themselves. Whereas one person may be supremely confident that he or she is the greatest thing that ever happened to them, another person may place themselves in the same negative light. Differences in how we evaluate ourselves exist within each individual and are irrelevant to how we feel about ourselves. Thus, the fundamental differences between self-esteem and narcissism arise from a different pattern of evaluation of oneself. narcissists, for instance, believe that they are superior to others in every way while those with low self-esteem believe that they are inferior.
When examining narcissism and self-esteem, the researcher suggests that there are two fundamental differences when it comes to how we examine ourselves. First, narcissists believe that they are superior to others and therefore deserve everything they receive, including appreciation, love and attention. To them, “no means no.” People who have low self-esteem believe that all they deserve is the same lack of self-value that everyone else has; to them, “no” means “yes.” According to the researcher, understanding these differences may help individuals who are at risk of developing a self-destructive character disorder.
The second difference between narcissism and self-esteem is how we measure our own value and significance in our lives. In narcissistic relationships, the husband or wife will ask their partner to do things for them in order to make them happy and successful. They may go so far as to lie about their own accomplishments in order to impress their partner. In college today, however, these types of relationships are less common due to social media, TV and other forms of media that feed into our insecurities. People are not as desperate to please in the present era.
Self-esteem differs slightly with the way that narcissists and teens view their self-worth, their worthiness and their life goals. With narcissists, their life goals are always to improve themselves and achieve their inflated self-image. Whereas, most self-esteem builders focus on achieving personal goals through leadership, being a good teacher and working your hardest at your craft.
Another difference between narcissists and self-esteem builders is that the former places more emphasis on social norms, whereas the latter places more emphasis on individualism. For instance, rather than thinking that everyone is doing the same thing, right-wing authoritarianism believes that individuals are rational, unique human beings who should be allowed to flourish without excessive rules and regulations. With social networks, people can “stick” to each other and work on their own lives instead of competing with each other using left-wing authoritarianism as a weapon. Rather than fighting over “noise,” this type of interaction increases cooperation and can even produce outcomes that benefit humanity.
Unfortunately, many individuals have chosen to express their own narcissism through social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook. For those who place a premium on having high self-esteem, it is unfortunate that they have allowed this source of weakness into their lives and have allowed themselves to become hollow. narcissists use the Internet to lure others into a false sense of security. Those who seek to build their own self-esteem and live by high standards are the ones who will remain secure in their lives. Individuals who lack this trait will always feel a sense of insecurity and may end up creating more enemies out of self-esteem issues.