Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Narcissism 101

I really need to start de-cluttering my office again – I've been so busy meeting deadlines lately that I've just been throwing paperwork into corners and letting things pile up. What would Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer say to that (them of the fabulous book The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be who are huge advocates of spring-cleaning your life)?

I gravitate between two extremes – being exceedingly messy and being excessively organised. The strange thing is that the interior of my wardrobe, desk drawers, bath cabinet and work cupboards are perfectly arranged – the coat hangers are all identical and facing the same direction; the clothes are coloured blocked in themes and in seasons; my hair products are together, the shoes are colour coded in their original boxes and so on. However, the floors have stuff strewn all over them. If my life were a movie then these images would be a symbolic reflection and representation of my character – you'll all have to figure out what it is for yourselves. But let me cut to the chase...

I had an interesting email discussion today with two hugely talent artists/graphic novelists about dysfunctional people in this world, the latter of whom hold grudges and plot revenge over slights and challenges to their self-proclaimed mystique. Then, while I was cleaning out a box, I coincidentally discovered an article I had clipped about ten years ago during my therapist days. It had appeared in a throw-away Sydney-city magazine full of ads, but it was astute and concise enough to summarise a lot about what I had been thinking, and use it as a learning tool for some of my clients. Alas, I do not know who the author is/was as their name did not appear on my original ragged and torn copy of the magazine – I actually rang the mag a few weeks later to find out who had written the piece, but the person I spoke to hadn't the slightest idea of what I was talking about. So to the author of the piece I am about to duplicate, I hope you will grant me permission in spirit to spread your words of wisdom around to the Black Mermaid readers:

The Good the Bad and the Ugly
[Source: Unknown]
When self-confidence crosses a certain threshold it turns into narcissism. Therapy today is concentrating on separating the 'healthy' aspects of narcissism from the 'unhealthy' ones.

Healthy: Feels good about oneself, even if others criticise.
Unhealthy: Needs constant buoying up from others to have a sense of wellbeing.

Healthy: Copes with life's many setbacks, although may be thrown off balance for a short time.
Unhealthy: Reacts to the hurts and injuries of life with fits of depression or rage.

Healthy: Feels confident about his or her own talent.
Unhealthy: Needs to feel superior to everyone else, and seeks out recognition for that superiority.

Healthy: May be stung by criticism, but the hurt soon passes.
Unhealthy: Incensed by criticism and broods for long periods about it.

Healthy: Appreciates praise, but does not live for it.
Unhealthy: Has an insatiable craving for adulation; seeks compliments to feel momentarily good about oneself.

Healthy: Self-esteem is unfluctuating, even after rejection, disapproval or personal attacks.
Unhealthy: Reacts to rejection, disapproval or attacks with bitter rage or deep depression.

Healthy: Does not believe he or she is entitled to special or favoured treatment.
Unhealthy: Feels entitled to special treatment because they are not ordinary.

Healthy: Is sensitive to the feelings of others.
Unhealthy: Is insensitive to what others need or feel.

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