The concept of healthy narcissism isn’t often talked about or even encouraged. When narcissism is discussed, it tends to be painted as something negative. You hear stories of narcissists being self-involved, grandiose, and very critical; things that most people don't want to be associated with. We are all a bit narcissistic to a point. We all have moments of caring about how we present ourselves, or enjoy attention and praise. However, what sets our narcissism apart from an unhealthy narcissistic individual is that our narcissism has a limit, and we are aware of the limit. Our inflated self-confidence boosts us and helps us in various situations in our life, it does not harm us. Unlike unhealthy narcissism where it limits a person’s ability to function in all areas, especially intimately with other people. There are many gifts that come with being a bit narcissistic, from self-confidence to attractiveness. As long as you stay aware of the reality and how your actions may impact others.
What Healthy Narcissism can look like:
Self- Love- Accepting and loving yourself as you are, and having compassion for yourself. The ability to have this kind of self-love can do so many things for an individual. Being kind to yourself and forgiving yourself when you are human and make mistakes. The ability to self-forgive will allow you to focus on learning from your mistakes, rather than dwelling on them and getting stuck in the shame and doubt. To have self-love means you practice good self-care, or at least strive to regularly. This can mean taking regular care of your physical appearance, through fitness, grooming, style, etc.) This kind of self-care allows you the opportunity to present the best possible you.
Self-confidence- Having self-confidence means that you are proud of what you have to offer, this may mean in terms of job skills, personality, good looks. Self-confidence also helps the ability to “sell oneself,” which can help immensely in one’s career advancement. It can help you in being outgoing enough to network and make job contacts. It may also mean you’re a little “pushy” when it comes to selling yourself on a job, or speaking up and sharing your opinion when needed, especially when you believe in what you are saying. Self-confidence is essential when it comes to dating. Again, the more outgoing you are, the more opportunities you have to meet potential dates, and therefore having a greater opportunity and finding a relationship. You are proud of what you have to offer, this includes your physical appearance.This type of high functioning, low level narcissism is another way to describe a healthy self-esteem. The slight difference when it comes to narcissism is loving yourself to the point of flaunting it. It’s perfectly healthy, and applauded if you’re fully comfortable in your own skin. It’s incredibly appealing to pass an individual on the street who clearly walks with a purpose, and carries themselves in a way you know they having a strong sense of self and are confident.
Empathy- Aside from self-love, empathy is the most essential quality that separates healthy narcissism from unhealthy narcissism. Having the skill to understand someone else’s needs and perspective, regardless of whether or not you agree with their view helps your bridge gaps with others and deepen relationships. When you can understand and demonstrate your understanding/empathy for another person, that can increase the other person’s trust for you and for your relationship. People will want to be around you more, you will be trusted with more, whether it’s personal information from a good friend, or receiving more responsibility with work. Having awareness of how things can impact others can also increase your self-awareness, and how you impact others. Empathy can help you build boundaries with others, as well as give you new insight and ideas on how you may say things or behave differently in the future in specific situations. Having empathy can help you grow and evolve as a person, which can be very appealing to those around you.
Boundaries (very similar to reality) - If you have a healthy level of narcissism, you are then aware of your limits with people and you practice these limits regularly. Similar to empathy, the more you demonstrate your respect for these limits, the most trust you will build with friends, family, co-workers, bosses, etc. On the flip side you also established your own boundaries with people, being aware of what you’re comfortable with doing as a friend, family member, co-worker, etc. and following through on this.
Awareness of Reality - A healthy narcissist is aware of not only his/her reality, but the reality of others. You are aware that in life there are rules and consequences, and you are not above the law. We are all human. No one is perfect, and no one is above the law. This type of “rules don’t apply to me” mentality is delusional and off-putting. People don’t enjoy being “one-upped.” While self-confidence is attractive and appealing, so is one’s awareness of what’s reality; it humbles a person. It’s great to strive for more and want more, but it’s also important to do this within knowing there are risks and consequences, and to be prepared and accepting when others are not on board with your plan. Awareness of reality, boundaries, and empathy are essentially all connected, these are the three areas that if used correctly help individuals from being consumed by fantasy and delusional, unhealthy thinking.
Gratitude - We are not an island. It is very rare that when we are successful it is 100% due to the efforts and doings made by only ourselves. Usually our family has supported us emotionally, financially, or our collaboration with co-workers inspired us, or the opportunity given by a mentor has opened doors for us. There is also the idea that we are never alone, and something bigger than us is always at work helping us through our journey. The bottom-line is to have healthy narcissism, you have to accept that you can’t do it alone, and likely don’t do it alone. With healthy narcissism comes a small dose of humility.
Like most things in life, narcissism is healthy when used in moderation, and is beneficial to your life, rather than harmful and destructive. Unhealthy narcissism can be extremely destructive. It can be isolating, unrealistic, and emotionally painful. Healthy narcissism involves a high amount of respect and love for yourself and others. As you continue in your week, take these six areas we discussed and assess how they apply to your current way of life. Perhaps there are some areas you excel in, but there are a few you need to keeping working on. Again, no one is perfect, we always have something we can work on and strive for.