There once lived a Greek hunter whose name was Narcissus. His extraordinary beauty attracted many to fall in love with him. One of whom was Echo, the Oread nymph, who fell in love when she spotted him hunting in the woods. When the young hunter sensed that someone was watching him, Echo revealed herself and rushed to hug him. She was, unfortunately, rejected with disdain by Narcissus. Echo wandered in the woods with despair for the rest of her life and withered away until all it remained of her was her voice. Soon after this event, Narcissus went to drink some water from a pool. He in love with his own realized that it disappeared each time he bent down to kiss it. He only grew and later died, as he did not want to disturb the water and have his reflection disappear. There are a number of important life lessons to learn from this myth.

Exaggerated feelings of self-importance, lack of empathy towards others, craving for admiration, selfishness, entitlement, willing to exploit others to achieve your goals are some of the traits of narcissistic personality disorder. So is the title, “Is being narcissistic really so bad?” completely counterintuitive? Are there some benefits attached to this trait? Let’s dive a little deeper.

Narcissism vs. Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Imagine that every personality trait exists on a continuum. When thinking about it this way, you could imagine that every trait has the potential to be harmful if it is too pronounced. For example, empathy is commonly known to be a good personality trait, one which we all need to maintain a healthy social life. But too much empathy (hyper empathy) is actually harmful, because it pushes you to always consider other people’s emotions, opinions, and goals ahead of your own.

That said, it is important to differentiate between – narcissism – the personality trait, and narcissistic personality disorder – the full-blown personality disorder. That quick feeling of admiration when you look at yourself in the mirror is normal. That quick feeling of pride and importance when you talk about reaching a milestone with your friends is healthy. But, it becomes a different story when this shifts to the negative side of the continuum. If like Narcissus, you become addicted to your own image and crave for admiration or you always feel the need to boast about every single achievement in order to be perceived as superior to others, then it becomes unhealthy. Therefore, a quick way to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy is by considering the frequency, intensity and duration.

How healthy narcissism can be beneficial

As indicated above, empathy is a personality trait that we need to develop. But, “if you don’t fill your gas tank, you can’t carry passengers.” This means that sometimes you need to put yourself first or be selfish, in order to help others or be selfless.

  1. You learn to love yourself

You will need to love yourself first, in order to love other people. If you hate yourself or feel unworthy, then you won’t be able to genuinely love other people or believe that they love you in return. Just pay attention to the trait continuum, and make sure it does not become an obsession like it was for Narcissus. Incorporating these life lessons will come in handy.

  1. You get to take care of yourself 

A healthy amount of narcissism will push you to take care of yourself. This might sound illogical, but you need this if you value taking care of other people. Why? Because you can’t give what you don’t have or you shouldn’t give so much that it ends up ruining you.

  1. You get to live your own life

One of the keys to living a happy and fulfilled life is making sure you are living your own life; by focusing more on your purpose, objectives, and dreams rather than always focusing on other people.

The word narcissism has always been looked at with disdain. However, as illuminated above, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Narcissism can even be thought of as “healthy narcissism”. Like anything else in life, it depends on your approach. The life lesson here is that even narcissism can be used to improve the quality of your life.

Categories: Life Lessons

25 Comments

S. Jakes · February 18, 2020 at 8:18 pm

I have never thought of being narcissistic as being something positive—interesting article. One of our girlfriends is completely narcissistic and we have basically given up on her. She has been this way for years, but the constant grooming in the mirror and the constant need for praise becomes so grating. Funny thing, because we have gotten used to her, we mostly overlooked her behaviors. She started hanging out with some news friends and completely ditched us—word on the street is that now she thinks we are beneath her—oh well… Thank you duppydom 👏

    duppydomTEAM · February 19, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    S. Jakes – thank you for sharing. Living with or having to interact daily with a narcissist (narcissistic personality disorder) can be extremely trying 😠😤. Common complaints are often about their vanity and manipulation. Here are two tips that the experts recommend: 1) see them for who they are – your wants and needs will not be important to them and you must accept the fact that you cannot change that; and 2) stop focusing on them (and this might be difficult to do at first) – their goal is to affect your mindset (e.g., your self-worth), so don’t let that happen. Your goals, needs, desires, and accomplishments, are just as important as theirs. Good luck!

      Adaego M. Azi · February 21, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      🤗

      S. Jakes · February 22, 2020 at 3:11 am

      👌 Appreciate the comment duppydom.

Bruce Peters · February 19, 2020 at 1:25 am

Well, well, well, duppydomTEAM, I was smiling the whole time I was reading the article. Over my lifetime, on more than one occasion, I have been called narcissistic—and the remark was not meant to be kind (just ask my ex-wife). Who knew that narcissism could be a good thing? Based on the facts of the article, it makes sense though. It looks like some people owe me an apology.

    duppydomTEAM · February 19, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    Bruce, thank you for your comments and sense of humor. Just a reminder that some people use the term “narcissist” just to be hurtful, or to “put you in your place”, regardless of whether you are narcissistic or not. If you can be truthful in self-diagnosis, here are 21 common signs of narcissism: Are you a narcissist and don’t know it? 🤩🤳

      Adaego M. Azi · February 21, 2020 at 3:44 pm

      🤗

Amara Kone · February 19, 2020 at 5:09 am

As illustrated by the logic of the article, I do not think that the title “Is Being Narcissistic Really So Bad?” is counterintuitive at all. I am sure if you go back in history, you will probably find that most Kings, Queens and leaders of every country on the globe were extremely narcissistic. The qualities of the narcissist are needed, firstly to believe that you can, and secondly, to in fact lead. And these same qualities can help us in your daily lives.

    duppydomTEAM · February 19, 2020 at 7:20 pm

    Amara – thank you for your comments. We agree with you, within reason. No one can deny that Donald Trump suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder 🤴. His narcissism has created chaos in the U.S. and around the world, and impacted people’s ability to trust his character. Now, imagine if he had “healthy narcissism”, or if he was a “humble narcissist” – currently, the world would be a completely different place.

      Adaego M. Azi · February 21, 2020 at 3:46 pm

      Yes, definitely 🤗

      Amara Kone · February 25, 2020 at 4:25 am

      Thank you. And thank you for the article.

Adaego M. Azi · February 19, 2020 at 7:44 am

duppydomTEAM–I can’t remember where I read a similar article. Except, the other article was saying that a certain type of narcissism was a good thing—or you needed narcissism plus another trait to be successful??? Regardless, I found your article to be very interesting. I guess the emphasis is that you need to be someone assertive, believe in yourself, and care about others to a certain degree, to be successful in life. The idea of healthy narcissism makes sense to me. The problem is, it’s the people with “narcissistic personality disorder” that you often come across. Thanks, duppydomTEAM.

    duppydomTEAM · February 19, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    Thank you Adaego – for reading the article and taking the time to write a comment. Adaego, I think the article you are referring to is – Tapping Into the Power of Humble Narcissism. Here is the logic of the article: [How can you be narcissistic and humble at the same time? The two qualities sound like opposites, but they can go hand in hand. Narcissists believe they’re special and superior 👸; humble leaders know they’re fallible and flawed. Humble narcissists bring the best of both worlds: they have bold visions, but they’re also willing to acknowledge their weaknesses and learn from their mistakes👨‍🎓].

      Adaego M. Azi · February 21, 2020 at 3:42 pm

      Thank you for the article 👍. I knew I wasn’t going crazy.

    S. Jakes · February 22, 2020 at 3:12 am

    👌

Lisa Steffler · February 19, 2020 at 10:14 pm

duppydomTEAM – this article is a good reminder. As a Christian, this is a characteristic that I try to avoid, and I think everyone should avoid – this is not a good way to be. I am sure that most people know the saying, “pride comes before a fall”. This means that people who are too prideful, arrogant, boastful, vain, narcissistic, etc., are setting themselves up for disaster.

    duppydomTEAM · February 20, 2020 at 7:25 am

    Thank you very much, Lisa. “Healthy Narcissism” or not, I can see the concern from your perspective. Nowadays, it seems like the world is more individualistic, we show very little empathy, and seem more concerned about self-importance and vanity by way of social media. We can only hope that sooner than later, there will be a shift in our thinking, that results in a world where there is more love, tolerance, humility, and altruism ☮💖👩🏾‍👩🏼‍👩🏿‍

      Adaego M. Azi · February 21, 2020 at 3:47 pm

      🤗

Amie Warwick · February 19, 2020 at 11:00 pm

I wouldn’t say that either me or my husband are narcissistic, but we are both going to take the narcissistic quiz. I do see the trait in other people, and I remember someone telling me that both sociopaths and psychopaths had the narcissistic trait (don’t quote me on that)—so, I am going to say that narcissism would be a horrible trait to have. Thanks, interesting article.

    duppydomTEAM · February 20, 2020 at 7:24 am

    Amie – it’s always fun when a couple takes a quiz together 💑, particularly when they are assessing a trait like narcissism – and of course, we would love to know the results (kidding/not kidding). Just so you know, both sociopaths and psychopaths are considered to have Antisocial Personality Disorder. Sociopaths are considered to be narcissists, but not all narcissists are sociopaths. Likewise, narcissism is an interpersonal symptom of psychopathy, but not all narcissists are psychopaths. Thank you very much for your comments.

      Adaego M. Azi · February 21, 2020 at 3:48 pm

      🤗

Nadine Wu · February 20, 2020 at 2:46 am

I had no idea that narcissism comes from Greek Mythology – cute story. I also read the article about humble narcissism. I found this article just as interesting – I probably found this article more fascinating that most, because I was raised to be humble (a big part of our culture) and if I’m being honest, it has shaped my personality and how I behave in the workplace. I think being a bit more narcissistic (i.e., a humble narcissist) would probably help me be more forward.

    duppydomTEAM · February 20, 2020 at 7:23 am

    Nadine – thank you. We appreciate your comments. That is the logic of both articles – the narcissistic trait (within limits) can serve you well. In terms of “Tapping into the Power of Humble Narcissism”, it’s the duality of both traits (each impacts the other) that can lead to success. In your case, being a humble narcissist would embolden you to act, increase your self-leadership and self-motivation, but also make you aware of your flaws and weaknesses 🛫🌑🛬🌎

      Adaego M. Azi · February 21, 2020 at 3:50 pm

      🤗

    Adaego M. Azi · February 21, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    🤗

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