Narcissism is not a diagnosis. It’s a psychological concept that helps explain or define human behavior. It’s defined as love of the self.
The name comes from the Greek mythological character, Narcissus. Narcissus was a handsome hunter who fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water. When he leaned down to kiss his reflection, he couldn’t see the face, so he continued to stare at the reflection until he died of thirst.
In its most basic form, narcissism as we use the term today, is neither good nor bad. It’s on a spectrum of healthy to pathological. Healthy narcissism is the ability to take pleasure in yourself and your accomplishments. You develop a healthy level of narcissism in childhood when you have parents who allow you the freedom form your own opinions and express your most vulnerable emotions in a supportive environment without criticism and shame.
So in essence, you’re supposed to love yourself. If you have a strong core of self-love and joy, you can sit in a job you hate and take the arrows that are thrown at you. The arrows may damage you superficially like making you unhappy at work, but you can withstand it because you still have your core that allows you to feel satisfaction with life on the inside.
Therefore, when you leave your job at the end of the day, you have the capacity to move on to something else that makes you happy and restores your damaged outer covering.
Pathological narcissism moves down the continuum in the direction of over-inflating your self-worth and doing things that are exclusively for your self-gratification and often to the detriment of others. For some people, this can look like the need to take from people to feel a gain, you tear people down to feel built up, someone else’s win is experienced as a loss for you.
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