Am I Narcissistic?

No idea what the ladies was like, but I just thought these were more or less the coolest sinks I've ever seen.

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=47486&searchId=fbe322a89bc0ba531c3f0050e3935f28&npos=134)

When you see narcissism in the title of an article, does it immediately attract your attention?  Do you wonder if perhaps you might have those tendencies?  Maybe because someone, something, your conscience, God has prompted this awareness that perhaps there might be something to it in relation to you.

The definition for “narcissism” is the following:

nar·cis·sism
ˈnärsəˌsizəm/
noun
noun: narcissism
  1. excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance.
    synonyms: vanity, self-love, self-admiration, self-absorption, self-obsession, conceit, self-centeredness, self-regard, egotism, egoism

    “his emotional development was hindered by his mother’s narcissism”
    antonyms: modesty
    • Psychology
      extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.
    • Psychoanalysis
      self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.

Narcissism is an extreme form of self-absorption and self-obsession.  It is classified as an actual personality disorder: NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

Selfishness though is what leads to the downward spiral into narcissism.  Selfishness is something towards which all humans have a tendency.  What is “selfishness”?  According to dictionary.com, it is the following:

[sel-fish]
adjective

1.

devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

2.

characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself:

selfish motives.

Narcissism isn’t a word that any of us want to have associated with us.  Yet, I believe its main cause, selfishness, is something that all of us can struggle with at times — some on a large scale and then others perhaps on a lesser scale.

When we look at our motives, truly look at them — why we do the things we do — we find that often our actions are prompted more for self-gratification, avoidance of that which would “hurt” ourselves, escape, self-fulfillment. 

Even our “love” can be very self-motivated. That’s why when our relationships start requiring more work then pleasure, interactions become “ugly”.

Our parenting can be motivated out of what we “get” from our kids — the fulfillment they give us.

Watch out though when those “sweet” little cuties rebel or publicly act in a way that brings humiliation.  Watch out when there is more work involved then self-gratification.  That’s when we see our true motives and heart revealed.

God has a way of gently convicting me when self begins to take precedence.  It’s always humbling to see the ugliness of ulterior motives, the insincerity of prideful accomplishments, the judgmentalism of self-centered “righteousness” and religion.

A lot of “good” things can be accomplished with nice-sounding labels but with a heart that is full of selfishness at its core.  Because these things are “good” things they may look attractive, receive approval, and even appear to be blessed for a time.

But the things “sown” in the flesh will ultimately reap fleshly results.

Self-centered religion does not glorify God.  It seeks to glorify self, to establish self as the god who is “good enough”, a “moral” citizen, accepted by all.

The truth is we have no merits, no true righteousness, no pure motives, no sacrificial love, no selflessness, except in Christ.

It is impossible to not seek to please or worship self without the all-consuming Gospel power of grace.

It is Christ alone and His grace at work in our lives that convicts and compels us to look outside of self, to serve in joyful abandonment of self, and to find the freedom that comes when we are no longer chained to the all-consuming ugliness of the god of self.

We can do all kinds of things to attempt to avoid being consumed by narcissism.  We can fool ourselves into thinking we are selfless when we do good works, but if we do them to avoid confronting the true state of our hearts, then self is still our god.

It is God alone who can reveal the true intentions of our hearts.  His Word and Spirit have a way of “cutting” through the pretty words, the artificial works, the commercial-worthy smiles, the accolades, the religious phrases to the true conditions of our hearts.

In a time-suspending, illuminating moment, God has a way of removing our blinders.  He does it not to shame us but to bring us into freedom — freedom from the imprisoning, debilitating clutches of self. 

Freedom from self enables us to serve others with sincerity.  Freedom from self frees us from preoccupation with our own needs, hurts, goals, passions in order to be able to truly see the hearts, wounds, needs of others.  Freedom from self humbles us enough to be able to respond to others with forgiveness and grace.  Freedom from self gives us the courage to do what is right rather than to live in fear of others.

As humbling and convicting as it may be, let’s allow God’s Spirit to remove our “blinders” and to purify our hearts so that we can be free to live a life that is God-centered and not self-centered.

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2 thoughts on “Am I Narcissistic?

  1. Narcissism is partly a character flaw or tendency, but also an actual personality disorder classified in the DSM-V which psychologists use to determine diagnoses etc. When it is NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) you are dealing with much more than mere selfish tendencies, which I gather we all have. For something to be classified as a disorder it must be much more extreme and out of the normal range of the general population’s experience. Since our society as a whole has become more and more consumer/me-driven, it makes sense that Narcissism as a disorder is also on the rise. At the same time, research into NPD is helpful to determine course of action with people whose personalities are chronically characterised by extreme narcissism – and how to interact with them, set boundaries and build healthier relationships all around. If you’ve never dealt with someone with a personality disorder this won’t make a whole lot of sense. But if you have, what I’m saying is very important. People who are truly Narcissistic in the clinical sense are extremely difficult to live with, work with, be around, interact with and understand. But it helps to try! 🙂

    1. Agreed, Sarah! I hope this wasn’t unclear. My understanding of NPD is that there is no known medical “cure” for it because it isn’t an actual mental illness. In other words, it is something that does have a cure that doesn’t involve physical assistance, such as medicine. That is why I address selfishness because within all us is the capacity to be Narcissistic. Selfishness is a very real “enemy” we struggle with on a personal level. Only God can drive away our built-in, natural awareness and drive to satisfy our own wants and desires.

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