In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal one way that people are transforming into narcissists.
First a quick update:
The Breakup Test
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Now, let’s talk about one way that people are transforming into narcissists.
Narcissus is the story from Greek Mythology of a man who was so handsome and beautiful that one day he saw his reflection in a pool of water and he fell in love with himself. He became so obsessed with his own beauty that he could not stop looking at his own reflection and eventually he died from thirst and starvation. In another version, he killed himself because he so desperately loved himself and his reflection.
The story highlights the dangers of self-obsession and vanity, and the word narcissism today refers to such people.
However, narcissism differs greatly from the original story. Narcissus was obsessed with his own beauty regardless of the opinion of others whereas a narcissist seeks the validation and approval of others, all in the hope that he might feel better about him or herself.
“Self” is the mechanism by which you experience and process yourself and the world; self is also the voice inside your head that narrates your life.
It is natural to want to feel good about yourself but, how do you achieve that?
From where do you derive your sense of self-esteem?
“Pride relates more to the opinion of ourselves; Vanity, to what we would have others think of us.”
– “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
As I’ve mentioned in other articles, self-esteem can be dangerous because you are constantly measuring yourself against others in the hope that you might feel good about yourself; and it is an ideal that can never be attained.
Accordingly, people get fooled into chasing perfection and perfectionism; obsessed and fully reliant on being the ideal that society has created and set for everyone:
“An extroverted, slim, beautiful, individualistic, optimistic, hard-working, socially aware yet high-self-esteeming global citizen with entrepreneurial guile and a selfie camera, that enjoys thinking he’s unique trying to make the world a better place, and values personal authenticity and being real..You have to be true to yourself, follow your dreams and if you dream big enough anything is possible; and you also have to be younger than 30.
There is no such human being.”
– Will Storr, ‘Selfie: How We Became so Self-Obsessed, and What it is Doing to Us’
Thus, technology today affords you and everyone the opportunity to pitch yourself – your selfie and story.
Do you fall into the trap of the wanting to be the hero in the center of the universe, against all odds?
The more obsessed you become with the selfie (your selfie) and the story that accompanies it, the worse you feel about yourself. Notice, the extremes to which you go to present the perfect selfie and the story or description that you carefully craft and desperately hope everyone will embrace and celebrate.
And what do you ultimately seek?
The fantasy that people will hold you in high regard (perhaps by trying to make them envious) and above all, that they will love and accept and approve of you, so that you will actually feel good about yourself, and you might actually believe for one moment that you are worthy and good enough.
And of what are you seeking to be worthy and good enough?
Worthy and good enough for love, connection and belonging; you are seeking to love yourself, but you are trying to achieve that via perfectionism and an ideal created by others.
Healthy self-love (“amour de soi” as 18th century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau referred to it) is necessary: concern, well-being, sustenance, defense against threats, and survival. That form of self-love incorporates cooperation and community, but it does not involve comparison with others.
Extreme or enflamed self-love (“amour-propre”) leads to extreme pride, narcissism, callousness and finally emptiness. It incorporates and is predicated upon comparison with others and, being better off than others.
Thus, the more you seek to compare yourself and to attain perfection, the worse you feel – constantly judging yourself as a failure not good enough, never able to meet these unusually high expectations and never being satisfied!
“It is the self that wants to become perfect, and it’s our culture that tells us what perfect actually is.” – Will Stor
Stop seeking perfection.
Stop trying to be something that you are not.
Stop trying to convince people whom you’ve never met that you are something that you are not or that you are something that they want you to be.
Instead, focus on developing your own talents and your own abilities, place your energy on things that you are good at and focus on positive ways to make a difference in the world, without seeking everyone’s praise, adulation, recognition, acknowledgement, validation or envy.
Face your self-doubt and make peace with what and who you are i.e. seek self-acceptance and self-compassion over the approval and acceptance of others.
You are a victim of your culture only if you allow yourself to be that.
In other words, you don’t naturally grow up and think ‘I want to take thousands of photos of myself and post them on Facebook.’ You become obsessed with yourself and seeking the approval of others because that is what the culture has sold to you, encouraging and breeding narcissism.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”
– Will Durant, 1926 (misattributed to Aristotle)
What are your habits? To where do you give focus, attention and value?
Do not give value to that which is valueless.
You do not have to look like or be a celebrity. You don’t have to compare your body or your swimming outfit with those of photoshopped, manipulated celebrities or models or other so-called ideal people. You don’t have to have everything that others have so you can feel good about yourself.
“The proud man is happy with the knowledge of his own superiority whereas the vain man relies on the opinion of others.” – Adam Smith
If you need help to validate yourself, overcome perfectionism or stop seeking other people’s approval, book a one-on-one session with me.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D. s
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.