Self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth—without these essential ingredients, it would be difficult to feel good about ourselves or accomplish anything in life.
But how can we tell if our self-confidence goes too far? When does self-esteem turn into arrogance? How can you tell if your self-worth is fairly estimated or overinflated?
What’s the difference between having a healthy relationship with yourself and having a disordered case of narcissism?
Do You Feel That Most Other People Are “Below” You?
One of the most common traits of narcissists is a sense of superiority. They feel they are better than others and often look down on others with contempt.
This could take the form of judging other people as “stupid” while feeling that you are “highly intelligent.” Or maybe they are “ugly,” while you are “hot, beautiful, or handsome.” Perhaps you see yourself as “talented, interesting, and successful,” while everyone else seems to be “lazy, boring, and failing.”
Healthy self-worth is not so dependent on other people. You shouldn’t need to put others down to feel good about yourself.
Are Your Goals Based On Impressing People?
Narcissists tend to have goals that revolve around impressing other people and being seen in a positive light. Rather than having intrinsic goals that are meaningful to them, they often seek extrinsic rewards such as status, money, power, or fame—things they believe others will admire and envy.
Healthier goals, however, are based on what you want to achieve or accomplish, regardless of whether other people will be impressed. It shouldn’t matter to you whether or not other people will be envious of your success.
Do You Have Trouble Maintaining Deep Relationships?
Narcissists often have difficulty sustaining deep, meaningful relationships. They might be able to maintain shallow, surface-level relationships, but they often struggle with intimacy, closeness, and true connection.
This may be because they are so focused on themselves that they have trouble seeing and understanding the needs of others. It may also be related to how they use other people to meet their own needs without considering the wants or needs of the other person.
Healthy relationships cannot be one-sided. Support, respect, and consideration must flow in all directions.
Do You Expect Others To Focus Their Attention On You?
Narcissists often expect others to focus their attention on them and give them the validation they crave. They might fish for compliments or expect people to listen to them talk about themselves for hours on end.
They may go through life as if it were a stage performance—they are the star, and everyone else is just a supporting character in their drama.
They might also get angry or defensive if someone isn’t giving them the attention they think they deserve.
A healthy sense of self doesn’t require constant validation from others. You can feel good about yourself without needing to be the center of attention.
“Are You A Narcissist?”
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is diagnosed when someone meets certain criteria, as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This typically involves a series of questions and observations conducted by a trained mental health professional.
But in 2014, a team of researchers concluded that diagnosing narcissism with a Single Item Narcissism Scale might be possible. This is essentially a one-question test:
“Are you a narcissist?”
Narcissists don’t tend to feel shame or guilt about their narcissistic behaviors—in fact, they may see them as positive qualities. They will typically be aware of their narcissism and have no trouble admitting it.
People with a healthier attitude about themselves probably wouldn’t feel so comfortable answering “yes” to this question. Either because they know they aren’t or because they are self-conscious enough to feel bad about their occasional narcissistic tendencies.
If you’re unsure or are concerned that your disordered personality is interfering with your relationships and well-being, consider seeking professional help. A therapist can help you understand your thoughts and behaviors and work on ways to change them.