A simple definition: Nar-cis-sism (noun): Excessive love or admiration of oneself.
Such a brief definition may seem harmless enough, but there are many social and personal, subtle and not-so-subtle, negative effects of narcissism.
But, if we are being honest we would all admit to a little bit of narcissism. We all seek to be overly self-sufficient at times, to show off our best sides, and we are all a little bit vain. Add to this the propensity to complain or to exploit people at times. Besides someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, we all feature as partially narcissistic.
The good news is we can identify our narcissistic traits, and, by doing so, identify some of our innate faults. As a result we can live happier lives, and those around us can be happier too.
The Character of Narcissism
So what exactly does narcissism look like?
At the extremes there are excessive degrees of need for authority or, correspondingly, the difficulty with authority. Narcissists tend to be supremely self-sufficient and superior to others in their own minds.
What all these above traits call forth most of all, however, is the critical weakness within the narcissist. They are incredibly damaged deep beneath, well below their conscious awareness, and their degrees of superiority are a massive cover for their gross insecurities. There is a clear air of exhibitionism and vanity that comes to the fore. And the narcissist feels entitled to their recognition, beyond reality, which is something that motivates many bullies. Lastly, and worst of all perhaps, is the propensity for the narcissist to be exploitative—they will use people for their purposes.
So how exactly can we learn from the narcissist, then? Well, as we reveal our narcissistic tendencies God invites us to explore the source of our damage.
Being Aware of and Healing Our Narcissistic Qualities
It is a very good thing to be aware of the extant truths about us regarding our weaknesses, especially those from our childhoods. If there are weaknesses there, and all of us have them, they can wind up manifesting as narcissistic tendencies.
Of seven generally accepted narcissistic traits I certainly identify with three of them. Knowing these weaknesses, and regularly acknowledging them, keeps these weaknesses in the front of my mind. Then I am able to compensate.
The awareness is so important. Only when we are aware do we stake claim on the willingness to be healed, one day at a time. Healing is a process. The more honest we are the more effective healing can be. We are likely to notice gradual improvements by way of lessened experiences of fear. This is just another example where the truth shall set us free (John 8:32). Where we are honest about our weaknesses God helps to strengthen them.
The weaknesses in narcissism are present in all of us. If we are serious about becoming disciples of Jesus we will interrogate our personalities for traits of fear. Only when we are honest will we become aware and, then, have opportunities of healing.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.