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Becoming a ‘positive’ narcissist

So what does it mean to practice ‘good' narcissism? In a nutshell, it means that we take out the good parts of narcissism, like improve self-confidence and persuasiveness, and apply it in the everyday work environment to achieve great things. The reason why this is ‘good' narcissism is that it doesn't destroy our relationships with other people, and it preserves our sanity and sense of balance.

Dr. Damian Jacob Sendler

Is there ‘positive’ narcissism? How can you love yourself without hurting others?

What is narcissism?

Every time I glance through the news media, be it lifestyle magazine or television, one of the most famous headlines related to mental health is that modern people are narcissistic. While social media allow us to transmit the inner self-love to the entire world, from a diagnostic perspective, narcissism is a lot more self-destructive than most people realize. 

To have a narcissistic personality disorder means that you love yourself to such an extent that you become self-destructive to your destiny. When I see people in the social media loathe about their lifestyle, I don’t see it as a sign of a mental disease, but instead a form of self-promotion. Some people become obsessed with garnering as many ‘likes’ as possible — and that is the sign of a mental health problem. Therefore, we need to be able to differentiate between narcissism and addiction to technology that makes us look like a narcissist. 

How we confuse narcissism?

Because we want to see ‘bad’ in someone whose bombastic personality spills all over the place, unfortunately, a lot of people use mental health as a weapon against those we do not understand. But when you work in mental health facilities, you get to realize that to have a mental illness means to be truly disabled in multiple facets of life. While it’s common for people to say from time to time, “I am having a bad day, I am depressed” — do we think about what it means to have clinically significant depression? Most people don’t. And this is where mental health providers oppose mislabeling anyone as narcissistic, without having the appropriate evidence to make that determination. Indeed, narcissism can boost our productivity and make us into more persuasive negotiators. But there is the dark side of all of this: namely, ruining romantic and professional relationships because our ego is too high to facilitate coexistence with other people, whom we view as inferior.

‘Good’ narcissism and why we need it 

So what does it mean to practice ‘good’ narcissism? In a nutshell, it means that we take out the good parts of narcissism, like improve self-confidence and persuasiveness, and apply it in the everyday work environment to achieve great things. The reason why this is ‘good’ narcissism is that it doesn’t destroy our relationships with other people, and it preserves our sanity and sense of balance. 

If there is one thing that we can learn from real narcissists is that their self-love makes them into charismatic leaders, who can inspire millions of followers. The best example of a narcissist is Adolf Hitler. We know that he was narcissistic because of the way he viewed the world (think: Aryan race vs. everyone else) and how he communicated with people (think: use of propaganda to create the image of a global leader). It takes a lot of self-persuasion to be able to convince others about own superiority. It’s like being a car seller, where you need to channel your inner ability the sense the buyer’s intentions and their budget to sell your product. 

These are my few points about how to practice ‘good’ narcissism:

  1. Command confidence to gain the trust of others and to lead.
  2. Use self-confidence to sell ideas, or products, without belittling anyone.
  3. Admire your productivity, not idealized superiority.
  4. Feel well about changing the world for better, not monetizing on others’ lack of resources.
  5. If you think you’re better than others, specify in what areas. You might be better than others in business analytics or fundraising, but you can’t be a great leader, business mind, best looking, the best lover — all at the same time.

Take-home message about self-care

It is clear that real narcissists inspire, belittle others, and suffer — all at the same time. Instead of wondering about who is like a narcissist, we should all use the signs and symptoms of narcissism as a way to improve our self-confidence. That way we can all improve our ability to inspire others positively and to spread ideas that will enhance everyone’s well-being.


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