Is over confidence pushing you to the threshold of narcissism? Is your killer instinct and peacock preening becoming too much for others to bear?
Do our quiz and follow these tips from our psychologist Andrew Fuller to find out how to turn that excess self-love into a more authentic type of confidence.
Answer Yes, Sometimes or No for each of the following statements:
- I am driven and super competitive and treat a recreational sports game like the Olympics Y/S/N
- I have a natural talent for influencing others Y/S/N
- I talk my way out of most things Y/S/N
- I react angrily to people who challenge my viewpoints and am highly sensitive to criticism Y/S/N
- Status is important to me and I like to be associated with high profile people and events Y/S/N
- I talk about my own life and my own achievements more than other people’s lives and achievements Y/S/N
- I thrive on being the centre of attention Y/S/N
- I feel above the rules most people follow (waiting in lines, paying taxes) Y/S/N
- I am interested at looking at myself in the mirror and like to show off my body Y/S/N
- I hold huge vendettas against people who have slighted me Y/S/N
- I enjoy being in charge and holding positions of authority Y/S/N
- People say/have said I can be arrogant and lack empathy Y/S/N
If you answered No to most of these questions, you are below average in the narcissist stakes and could work on being more assertive.
If you answered Sometimes then congratulations: you have a healthy balance of self-love, self-assurance and self-poise - but not at the cost of everyone around you.
If you answered Yes to most questions, you're likely to have a strong narcissistic streak and your mantra is “all about me”. Try to focus on improving your listening skills; showing more empathy and learning to take criticism on the chin.
Breakout: How to fight Narcissus
In Greek mythology, Narcissus the hunter fell in love with his own image as he gazed at himself in a pool of water. Unable to leave the beauty of his own reflection, he pined away and died.
But Narcissus was not alone in his self-absorption it seems - with studies of young students showing that narcissism has increased exponentially in recent decades – possibly due to decades of “positive reinforcement” from parents and reduced play time with children (play time teaches kids to problem solve and have empathy for others).
Not to mention the emergence of the “Toddler In Tiara” Syndrome, where super-combative parents push their children to the competitive edge.
With all of that, it’s no wonder everyone thinks they’re Number 1!
“Self-love is important and good. However true narcissism is loving oneself to excess; a clinical disorder characterised by a sense of self-importance and a lack of empathy for others,” says Andrew Fuller, Melbourne psychologist.
“The narcissist may often feel envious of the achievements of others; they may exhibit arrogant attitudes and may also be driven to work excessively hard. This in turn fuels a sense of self-entitlement.
“Narcissistic personalities can be complicated because at face value they appear to be more self-assured than most people but deep down they can have quite low self-esteem,” he adds.
Are narcissistic traits equal amongst the sexes?
No according to a Buffalo University study of 475,000 which found that narcissism is significantly more common in men, and is also linked with aggression and inability to have intimacy in relationships.
So what can the narcissist do to get themselves back on a level footing?
“Recognising there is a problem is the first step. Narcissists tend to exhibit some of their “tricky” behaviours largely due to an underlying anxiety,” says Fuller.
He also agrees that narcissists tend to have an aversion to intimate relationships, generally because they fear rejection or humiliation.
“The true narcissist will not look for help so may need to be encouraged by others. The kind of things that help include cognitive behaviour skills (replacing negative thoughts with positive ones), while group therapy can also help narcissists recognise their behaviour."
“In normal social settings the narcissist becomes impatient when the attention is diverted and unable to engage in normal conversation unless he/she is the focus of attention. With group therapy however these behaviours are more likely to be pointed out by other people in the group, helping the narcissist to gain insight and be more empathetic.”
He says other strategies to stop narcissistic tendencies getting the better of you can include:
- Making a focussed effort not to take up all the “air time” when talking. Every time someone makes an enquiry about you – try to return it back to the other person.
- Before reacting in anger or anxiety, breathe, wait five seconds and think about what you are going to say
- Use “I words” rather than blameful or angry “You words”. For instance, "I feel upset/concerned" rather than “you are wrong/crazy/stupid”
- Do not say “I want you to” – try “Could you please” instead
- Remember that narcissism isn’t self-love – it’s hiding the bits of yourself you don’t love. Write down three things you feel insecure about, and find professional help/friend and mentors to actively and prescriptively help you address these issues.