Anil enters my office - presumably for insomnia. He's a tall, broad-shouldered, incessant talker. He over-emphasises his talents and likability..."I have 500 likes on my FB post this morning! I have a following of 5000 on twitter....impressive?!
Within a few minutes the glitter seems to fade and I can see the need for an inflated self-image. No intimate relationships, no close family and no work-satisfaction either. Could it be to hide behind external criticism and a sea of self-doubt?
There is an explosion of narcissistic traits in modern society....it engulfs us; digital over-sharing, broadcasting banal information to fill social media with "special moments", attention-seeking and the mad quest for followers!
How should we see this growing self-obsession and this need for self-importance?
Academic Jean Twenge says there are 7 strands to this fake grandeur _ authority, self-sufficiency, a belief that you've achieved everything on your own, superiority, exhibitionism, exploitativeness, vanity and entitlement.
Though these traits may stem from the core belief that 'I'm extraordinary', the truth is that most of us are not at a stage where we are extra anything! It may seem like a common trait in your 20's, to believe that you're special and it probably helps with having less anxiety through personal pride and social success. But it is an unrealistic assumption and sooner or later, results in disillusionment. Then by middle age this false grandeur develops into depression.
Let's see the role of parenting in all this. Most parents see their kids as an extension of themselves. They reinforce, “you’re special, you're terrific, you're different!"
Could it be indulgent parenting? Wouldn't it create a generation of confused kids since they are part of an extremely competitive culture that requires more than asserting your specialness?
Though I agree that a certain degree of self-interest is beneficial, but can self-esteem be conjured out of thin air just because those around you say so?
We will eventually realise the need to address this tendency to stick our heads in the sand and say, “the kids are alright!"
Pat MacDonald says that when you ultimately accept that your narcissism is relatively high, that your expectations of yourself are often not met and your relationships aren't all that good, you may opt for these five principles of self-improvement...
Gratitude, compassion, modesty, mindfulness and community.
I have learned that when self-promotion and individuality are touted as essential, we soon begin to realise that the truth of ourselves is the need for true connection. That is what we really want....we want to be part of a community, we want to be supported when we struggle, we want to feel necessary, we want to belong and most importantly we want to be loved.
When we remain humble, we become kinder too!
Until next time!