What Our Judgment Of Narcissism Reveals About Our Humanity

What Our Judgment Of Narcissism Reveals About Our Humanity

Thus, it is critical that the conversation regarding mental health issues such as narcissism shifts from one of stigma and condemnation to support and compassion. We need a strategy that allows us to feel protected from the harmful effects of narcissism and other mental health issues so that we can be free to be more understanding and help either ourselves or others cope and heal.

Here are some possible ways forward that could aid in understanding people with narcissism

First and foremost – and taking a cue from Greenway — we need to center ourselves in our own sense of humanity. Our greatest asset in being kind and compassionate to ourselves is simply our commitment to do so. We need to be grounded in the notion that we want to treat ourselves and others as humanely as possible, even if it is difficult and feels threatening.

Part of what might make this process easier is recognizing that many mental health issues can be understood on a continuum, rather than as a discrete disease. This is the case with narcissism; research suggests that narcissism is best understood as a continuous process rather than a discrete, separate factor. An understanding of the continuity of mental health conditions in general and narcissism in particular may allow us to think twice before assuming that someone we label as narcissistic is inhuman when the evidence suggests many of us may display narcissistic tendencies.

But if we are going to be more compassionate to ourselves and others with narcissism, we must start by being understanding and validating that in dealing with our own narcissism or the narcissism of others is frightening and threatening. We will have lapses in empathy and compassion – especially when dealing with people who we feel are manipulating or otherwise hurting us. Research suggests that this type of self-compassion may be protective against the effects of low self-esteem on our mental health – the very type of low self-esteem that we may experience with narcissism.

Also read The First (and hardest) Step To Healing From Narcissistic Abuse

To be sure, being compassionate does not mean being vulnerable and unprotected. The goal is not to be kind and gentle en route to being demeaned, exploited or humiliated by interactions with people who suffer from narcissism. Setting boundaries is needed. But let the boundaries be based on what behaviors we find acceptable or unacceptable, rather than through labeling someone or ourselves with a mental health condition.

So, absolutely call someone out for lying, being grandiose, unempathic, or hurtful in any way. Let them know that this behavior will not be tolerated, and either create distance in or end a relationship that feels manipulative, abusive or otherwise unsatisfying. Specifying the harmful behaviors may be both more validating to us and more effective in leading to change than simply calling them a “narcissist.” In fact, the setting of boundaries may be what allows us to be more compassionate. And if we are less threatened, we are more free to be empahic and kind.

Ultimately, if we can ground ourselves in our humanity and compassion, be kinder to ourselves and others while protecting ourselves from the harmful effects of narcissism, we may be less likely to need to reinforce the stigma of narcissism and mental illness in general. This will potentially reduce the stress on everyone involved and also free up people who struggle with narcissism to seek help to address feelings of shame, low self-worth and the harmful compensatory strategies that emerge.

Remember, whether we like it or not, mental health issues are one of the factors that unites us as most people at one point in their life will struggle with a mental health condition. When we reduce stigma and promote compassion, we recognize and reinforce our own humanity.

Please share this article with anyone who you may think will find it valuable and helpful. Thank you very much! I greatly appreciate it!


Written by: Michael Friedman, Ph.D
Originally appeared on: Hardcorehumanism.com
Republished with permission
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Mike Friedman

Dr. Mike Friedman is a clinical psychologist and the co-founder of Hardcore Humanism. Sign up for the Hardcore Humanism newsletter for weekly updates and tips for optimizing your life!View Author posts