It’s not uncommon for people to hear the term “narcissist” and immediately think of someone arrogant, egotistical, or selfish. And while these traits may be part of a more significant narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), they’re certainly not the only expression of narcissism.
“Narcissism is a spectrum disorder,” says Dr. Craig Malkin, a clinical psychologist and author of Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — And Surprising Good — About Feeling Special.
“It’s not just about vanity or arrogance. It’s a way of seeing the world and oneself.”
If you’ve been around the internet long enough, you probably have seen your fair share of self-help articles about healthy Narcissism or negative Narcissism.
There are tons of different definitions and opinions on what healthy narcissism is, but I’d like to take a stab at creating a definition that makes sense to me.
According to my definition:
Healthy narcissism is being confident in who you are and your talents, while still taking care of yourself both mentally and physically. It means believing in your own ability to achieve things, no matter how big or small the task may be. And last but not least, it also involves recognizing when you need help from others and accepting that help graciously.
Now don’t get me wrong — there isn’t anything wrong with being a little bit narcissistic. It can be constructive in some situations. For example, if you’re newly married, and your husband is constantly trying to take care of everything while you work extra hours at the office, being a little bit self-centered may help you feel sane again and start taking care of yourself too.
And on the other hand, if you’re always struggling with feelings of loneliness or feeling like no one understands you, it may be a sign that your narcissism is out of balance. In either case, you’ll want to work on healing any underlying issues before trying to fix your narcissism.
Our generation is facing a genuine issue with narcissism. As the world becomes more and more competitive, it’s important to keep yourself grounded in reality and your ego in check. The key to being a healthy narcissist is knowing your limitations while still being aware of your strengths.
Healthy narcissism can act as a positive force for your success, allowing you to see the world through your own eyes and understand what you need to do to improve yourself. When used in a healthy way, narcissism can motivate you to achieve your goals and foster self-confidence.
When used inappropriately or in an unhealthy manner, narcissism can lead to arrogance and entitlement, which can hinder your relationships and career.
When considering whether or not you are exhibiting narcissistic qualities, it is important to consider the context of the situation. Are you using your Narcissistic traits for positive purposes (e.g., developing yourself and your skills)? If so, then they are likely healthy and appropriate.
Otherwise, if you are using your narcissism in a harmful or destructive way (e.g., to exploit others), it is important to address the issue head-on before it harms either you or those around you.
What does ‘Healthy Narcissism’ look like
- In healthy Narcissism, you don’t require other people around you to be less remarkable to validate that you are actually awesome.
- You are genuinely happy for the happiness of others.
- If you feel a little jealous, you will admit it.
- You use feelings of jealousy to inspire yourself; you will not feel threatened by it.
What does Toxic Narcissism Look like
- Lack of empathy.
- Concern for others.
- Secretly quite insecure.
- Feeling jealous and threatened by other success.
For Parents and Children
Healthy narcissism has been shown to benefit children as well as adults. The best way for parents and teachers to foster healthy narcissism in their children is to create a climate of unconditional positive regard. This can help children learn that they are accepted and loved no matter what they do or how they look.
People who are genuinely healthy with narcissism have a positive self-image. They see themselves as a good person and feel good about their accomplishments. Healthy narcissists do not demand praise from others or need constant reassurance that they are doing well. They feel content within themselves rather than needing constant validation from others to validate their self-worth.