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Unhealthy narcissism, whether it manifests as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or more of a shadow syndrome of that personality disorder, typically results in the individual living life as a false self or a created image. The image bolsters feelings of self worth in the narcissist, as well as helps keep rage and depression at bay. Thus, the false self is defensive; it protects from painful feelings.

Life, however, should be lived as a real or authentic self. After all, the real self is adaptive. It also is creative. The person who lives as an authentic self strives to live consciously, actively making choices that honor who she believes herself to be, or perhaps, who she senses she is destined to become. In other words, often the person living authentically senses she has unique gifts or abilities that are to be used in certain ways to serve or benefit others. If she is living on purpose or purposely, she will be using these in a way that she feels she’s supposed to. Furthermore, she won’t be harming other people in the process, either.

Those living as false selves are driven by ghosts from the past. They are often striving to live up to the expectations of others, or else they do things and live in a way that will make them feel better about themselves. Because the narcissist often suffers from a sense of not being enough or worthy, to counterbalance these feelings, he develops that created image which feeds his grandiosity and makes him believe that indeed, he is better than others.

The person living as an authentic or the real self isn’t worried about what others might think. Of course, this isn’t to say that the person is indifferent to the perspectives of others or lives a self-centered lifestyle. Actually, while that is the way of those suffering from narcissism, the authentic person seeks to discover ways to honor the self as well as to acknowledge others at the same time.

The person living as the real self is into creating win-win solutions. Indeed, she wants to do things that serve all parties. She also understands how it is possible to do so. After all, when one is living as the real self, she receives inner guidance that directs her on how to take actions that benefit others as well as the self. This means she doesn’t sacrifice her own needs for another, but she doesn’t disregard those of others so she might benefit herself, either.

Narcissists, on the other hand, are into misleading and manipulating other people in order to achieve their own selfish ends. But then, what matters most to them is their personal gain. They are comfortable doing what they do no matter what the costs to others. Of course, one of the characteristics of narcissism or the narcissistic is that they are concerned only about the well-being of others whom they perceive as players—like the self. They view all other people as objects to be used for personal benefit or gain.

The person operating as an authentic or real self strives to always be aware of her behavior and its impact on others. She strives to take right actions that are both beneficial and non-destructive to others as well as the world in general. The authentic individual realizes that because of the connection between herself and all others, when she harms another or some aspect of the universe, she actually is harming herself as well. This, of course, is so different from the perception of the narcissist who can only see what benefits him, even if it is destroying both others as well as the world.

Narcissism might be described as akin to constantly wearing blinders. Narcissists don’t see things as they truly are; they see them as they need them to be, or as they are. In other words, they can only look straight ahead at what will ultimately serve their own goals. When they see the means that serve their ends, they disregard or remain oblivious to the impact of pursuing these—on other people as well as any part of the larger interconnected system in which we are all part of the one—the source of all.

Undoubtedly, you have heard the saying, “The end justifies the means.” Probably no one believes in this more profoundly than the narcissist. In fact, you might say this is the motto of the narcissistic. And while sometimes it is easy to recognize the means that those displaying narcissism use to reach their ends, more often, they are subtle or difficult to discern. Furthermore, this is probably deliberate. The narcissist wants to mislead and confuse because he realizes that not only will others become upset if they perceive his means accurately, but they might disagree with his desired ends, too.

Indeed, those displaying narcissism might drape their desired ends in a fabric seemingly woven with concern for the betterment of mankind. But simultaneously, the narcissist may well be taking actions that promote others' ruination. These, however, might be ignored or disbelieved by the very people they harm. This is because others perceive the actions of narcissists from their own perspective or world view. As a result, they often can’t see the evil intent or duplicity.

It is important to wake up to the truths about narcissism and the narcissistic, however. Otherwise, narcissists can facilitate personal, societal, and global destruction. Fortunately, people living authentically are inclined to see the truth--the truth of the narcissistic and their ways. They also can discern the narcissists amongst us. It is thus in our own best interest to listen to them, and not to the narcissists themselves.

Besides writing on narcissism, addictions, and abuse, Diane England also writes on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. If you know of someone whose partner is displaying PTSD, addictions, and abuse--since we often see this trio exist together, too--do that person a favor and buy him or her The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Relationship today. It has been designated one of the "Best Books of 2009" by theLibrary Journal.

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