Although the popular understanding of ‘narcissism’ is one of a negative personality trait, here is why you should, and how you can, make Healthy Narcissism an important part of your Internal Culture.
With a brief introduction, I will take you from a bird’s eye view to simple practical steps for nudging yourself towards being an awesome healthy narcissist!
Addressing topics from vanity, control and introspection to yogic principles of ‘self-love’ within 4 minutes you’ll be set to go with greater clarity of thought. Read on…
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The Narcissism Spectrum
Why Target Healthy Narcissism Anyway?
What will your Investment Return be?
Narcissism and Evolution
Healthy Narcissism – Construction Blocks
1234Correlation with Vanity
1234Mindfulness and Introspection
1234Controlling Self and Non-Self
Healthy Narcissism – Putting it all Together
The Narcissism Spectrum [top]
Narcissism exists on a spectrum. At one end is the Destructive kind, at the other, the Healthy kind.
(It has been suggested that it is useful to think of a continuum of narcissism, ranging from deficient to healthy to pathological, with stable narcissism and destructive narcissism as stopping points in between.)
Destructive Narcissism is accompanied by a self-perception that is grandiose, with a pursuit of power without inhibitions, little true regard for social norms and a tendency to exploit others with no feelings of being considerate towards them. A Destructive Narcissist lacks values, is easily bored and often changes course. You may know or know of people who fit this description well. I hope you manage to keep your distance from them. [top]
Healthy Narcissism is marked by self-confidence that is in line with reality, no specific pursuit of power, a real concern for others and their ideas and no attempts to exploit or devalue others. A Healthy Narcissist has values and will follow through on plans. I hope you and your inner circle are of this type. [top]
[see: Wikipedia on Healthy Narcissism]
Why Target Healthy Narcissism Anyway? [top]
Although Destructive Narcissists in corporate leadership roles can benefit their shareholders, Healthy Narcissism would be better for everyone. Destructive Narcissists can often handle stressful events, opposition or criticism better than the average person but given that life is about more than just those, it makes no sense for you to aspire to be anything other than a Healthy Narcissist – (which might include taking for yourself only the best components of Destructive Narcissism).
What will your Investment Return be? [top]
A long Healthspan isn’t just about being physically free of pain and disease beyond the age of 100. It’s also about being mentally alert, emotionally supportive to others and spiritually more elevated than you are now. Curating an Internal Culture of Healthy Narcissism for yourself and gently encouraging those you care about to do the same will set you up for success.
Narcissism and Evolution [top]
You have always expressed at least some amount of, what might broadly be labelled as, narcissism. Put simply, you will have tried to protect yourself from extermination – including, at times, in ways that others did not approve of. You will have even tried to pass your genes on to the next generation. An expression of vanity, to look good, would have been an important part of the mating process. [Read: The Indian Jackie Chan]
(Research has shown that both vanity and narcissism are positively correlated with mating effort i.e., the less vain and or less narcissistic you are, the less likely you are to be interested in making an effort to find a mate.)
The accumulation of resources to survive from one time period to the next has been a key driver of your actions. Although a monkey may accumulate enough fruit for only one meal, you are likely to be doing that for thousands of more meals than you can ever hope to have. This is not harmful in itself as your prefrontal cortex (that distinguishes you from other creatures) is engaged in planning for the future and will drive you towards this quite naturally. So, if vanity and the accumulation of resources are part of your true nature then what is the problem with narcissism?
[Read: Attempting Work-Life-Balance? Instead, plan for Time-Optimized-Living]
Healthy Narcissism – Construction Blocks [top]
Correlation with Vanity – although narcissism and vanity are distinct personality traits and you can have a lot of one without the other, they tend to be positively correlated i.e., those who have one trait tend to also have the other. So then is vanity purely a negative trait to have? [top]
Internal-External Divide – When we do not pay constant attention to this very important divide, we have a tendency to move away from Healthy Narcissism. We seek the easy way out by covering up, using make-up, focusing on putting up a display. These are all manifestations of a focus on the External. It would be better to cross the Interface and focus on the Internal. [top]
Loving Yourself – implies making yourself a priority. Being extremely selfless is extreme foolishness as much as short-sighted selfishness is severely suboptimal. Your target should be to find a balance, what is often referred to as being “otherish” i.e., help others but within reason – don’t hurt yourself in the process. [top]
Mindfulness and Introspection – paying attention to detail is critical for personal development. When this focus is inward, with a greater observation of yourself, you are likely to have greater peace through this mindfulness and introspection. [top]
Controlling Self and Non-Self – the larger your control of yourself, the smaller will be your desire to control other people (non-self) or external events (non-self). [top]
Healthy Narcissism – Putting it all Together [top]
Without ‘time’ you have nothing. If you lose all your ‘money’, you can still earn some more only if you have some time to put your skills and knowledge to use. So, focus always on how you are using your time before you worry about how you are using your money. With that said, how do we put together all the ‘construction blocks’ to be on a path of Healthy Narcissism?
If you become appropriately attentive about the importance of the Internal relative to the External, you will automatically direct yourself towards Healthy Narcissism. Even your vanity will become about things that increase your Healthspan. Your focus will be on a lifestyle that gives you better skin that you will enjoy looking at rather than trying to hide your own skin under makeup. You will make an effort to look good when naked in front of your mirror, not for anyone else, but for yourself. And, rather than cover up the outcome of your unhealthy lifestyle with expensive attire, you will focus on reversing your biological age. That expensive German car will become just about a way to get from A to B comfortably because you chose it instead of self-powered or public transport, and not as superficial bait for the gender you wish to attract. You will automatically look to compound your internal wealth instead of looking, with futility, at your external wealth for happiness. For all of this, you will need to love yourself, to make yourself a priority. And, in making yourself a priority, you will learn to focus your thoughts and actions towards greater self-control and be less interested in controlling others.
Final Message [top]
I hope you are convinced that Healthy Narcissism is a good path for you to journey along. If your life often feels overwhelming and complex, and you would like to be guided in detail to have the best life possible, you know how to reach me.
Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.
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