“Look at me!”
No, I am not talking about the Freudian concept of id, ego, and superego. This is about your confidence level, your self-image. It’s about self-confidence versus narcissism.
Narcissistic behavior is on the rise in this country, which I detest; at the same time, I welcome healthy and strong egos.
When children are young, narcissism is developmental. They cannot comprehend another person’s viewpoint. Toddlers are paying attention to who is watching them; teens often spend excessive time preening. This is healthy narcissism, and not a reason for concern. It does not reflect the primary characteristics of the more toxic narcissism among adults: arrogance, feeling of entitlement, and lack of empathy.
The most egregious of these, to me, is lack of empathy, which may be reflected in numerous ways. Some people prattle on about their luxury vacations, their investments, the children’s private schools…while knowing full well that you don’t have enough in your refrigerator to get through the week. They never ask how you are or if they can be of help, because they simply don’t care. Others are savvy enough to go through the motions, like asking how you are surviving as a caregiver for your mother’s Alzheimer’s. They don’t really listen to your answer, but at least they have the social skills to fake it.
If you are choosing this type of person as a friend or significant other, carefully consider what life with that person will be like when life doesn’t give them what they want. These people seldom improve. This will be the person who bellows for days about a head cold, then is too busy to tend to your pneumonia. Or it will be the person who, when you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, goes around telling everyone how difficult that has made his or her life. Never mind about what it does to you!
I love to ask two questions: 1) Am I dealing with a narcissist? 2) Am I becoming one? Of course, if you bother to ask Question 2, the answer is probably No. Narcissists are amazingly low on self-awareness, and question 2 is unlikely to cross their arrogant little minds.