"Take up room. Embrace your talents. It's okay to think you're beautiful."
I love the compassion Brené Brown delivers on just about any topic. Narcissism is complex to navigate, and requires us to exercise compassion (for ourselves & others) in order to process it thoroughly.
When we think of the word, the automatic, common response is that negativity must be associated with it, but the reality is, it’s far more than just ‘good’ or ‘bad’. You won’t get an accurate picture from reading a few articles, either.
Healthy narcissism is actually necessary for balanced, healthy mental/emotional health & self esteem.
Unhealthy narcissism, however, can develop as a result of an array of reasons: family dynamics with low e.i. (emotional intelligence); child neglect; experiencing rejection as a child; abuse/trauma, etc. - the list goes on.
Because narcissism fluctuates, has many variabilities and is not ‘one-size-fits-all’, it’s helpful to understand the unique ways it can manifest in ourselves; evaluate if what we’re feeling towards someone or something is healthy or unhealthy (those who genuinely cannot tell the difference or are unable to self-reflect likely suffer from the narcissistic personality disorder) and what to look for when it manifests in others in a way that hurts us.
One example of unhealthy narcissism would be trying to control the actions, opinions, or feelings of others (anyone from your child, spouse, dating partner, friend or coworker) according to how you feel they should or should not behave, versus reflecting on, being curious about, or having compassion for what they may be personally experiencing.
For adoptees relinquished at birth, the majority of us tend to lean towards the low end, thus, resorting to people-pleasing in order to avoid re-abandonment (a huge component of my therapy work over the last five years). You can imagine how being introduced to an environment where narcissism is prevalent can be extremely painful, traumatic, and even detrimental for an adopted child. Learning how to recognize the difference between healthy parent/child dynamics, relationship and/or friendship dynamics vs. unhealthy is vital in order to create boundaries where necessary and/or even go no-contact when situations are so toxic, it becomes necessary.
Perhaps what is most challenging, yet most powerfully liberating is having the ability to practice compassion for those who struggle with any illness, especially unknowingly. This quote evokes just that, is a strong reminder that true power is compassion, and always wins over judgment.
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