Unhealthy narcissism, whether it manifests as full-fledged Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or more of a shadow syndrome of that personality disorder, will likely result in the individual living life as a created or false self as opposed to what psychologically healthier people select for themselves. and what is that? Well, hopefully to try and live as their highest or best selves--what might also be called their authentic selves. It's important to realize that for the narcissist, this created or false self bolsters feelings of self-worth. It also helps to keep things like rage and depression at bay. Mental health professionals describe the false self as defensive because it protects the individual from painful or bad feelings.
Living One's Life as the Authentic Self
One's goal, however, should be to live life as the authentic self. What do I mean by this exactly? Well, it might help if I first say what I don't mean. After all, some might suppose that living authentically means that you just do and say whatever you want to do and say, and whenever you feel like it, too. But rather than living authentically, that's essentially living life as a spoiled child.
The person living as the authentic self strives to live in a conscious way. The person striving to live as the authentic self make choices that help him or her to ilve as their highest or best self. This demands taking into consideration the needs and well-being of others, not only the self. Hence, one living as the authentic self is not selfish or self-centered as the narcissist is. But then, the person living as the authentic self recognizes that we're all interconnected parts of a larger system or whole. Right actions strengthen or support that whole whereas wrong actions harm others and/or that whole. Furthermore, because one recognizes that he or she is essentially a system within increasingly larger systems yet, the authentic person recognizes that in doing things that harm others or the world, he or she is ultimately harming oneself.
You might say that someone striving to live as the authentic self is concerned not just with merely doing or accomplishing things, but this person is concerned with how he or she is being in this world. So again, the authentic person will consciously strive to be kind or considerate or compassionate or generous or patient, for example. This person realizes that at our highest and best, we are about love--both being loving toward others as well as being able to accept the love others might offer us. Certainly, it's not about allowing one's more animalistic instincts to have free reign, nor is it about manipulating others for selfish ends.
Again, someone striving to live as the authentic self is also constantly striving to stay in touch with one's spiritual center or core. after all, this person realizes that it can offer ongoing guidance regarding how to continually be one's best and highest self.
The person who's living as his or her authentic self likely feels he or she has talents or gifts that should be used to benefit others. This person believes that by doing this, he or she will be living a purposeful life. Thus, the person is often driven by an inner passion that can cause work to feel more like play. Because the person is able to honor their highest and best self as well as to be responsive to the needs of others, the person living as the authentic self s apt to experience inner contentment and joy. whereas the narcissist feels an emptiness inside instead.
The False Self of the Narcissist
The narcissist, living as the false self, experiences a very different reality. He is apt to feel a kind of emptiness instead.
At an unconscious level, the narcissist suffers from a sense of not being worthy or enough. To keep these feelings outside of his awareness, so that he might feel better about himself, the narcissist creates an image or lifestyle which feeds his grandiosity. And indeed, he comes to believe that he's better than others. In fact, he's entitled to what he wants. Furthermore, others are but objects to be manipulated and used so he achieves his desired ends.
Yes indeed, whereas the person living as the authentic self is into creating win-win solutions, the narcissist elects to mislead and manipulate other people so as to achieve his own selfish ends. In fact, the narcissist's motto is: The end justifies the means.
Oh, and the narcissist is the type of businessman who'll screw others over to line his own pockets. Then, Should they holler about their mistreatment, he's apt to somehow blame them for what happened--like they should have known better or not ben so naïve and trusted him. He also might toss back, "It's just business." Yes, to the narcissist, that should be adequate explanation or excuse for anything he might have elected to do.
Sure, the narcissist may think it's just business, but certainly not all business people operate in this way. Those operating as authentic selves would believe it's possible to negotiate and arrive at terms that benefit all parties involved, not just one (the narcissist).
Sadly, sometimes the means that those displaying unhealthy levels of narcissism use to reach their ends are subtle or difficult to discern. Needless to say, this is deliberate on the part of the narcissist. He wants to mislead and confuse because the narcissist realizes others might become upset if they were to recognize what the narcissist is truly striving to do. He realizes others probably won't support his desired ends oi they come to realize they're all about him, not them. But of course, realizing this, the narcissist will often drape his desired end in a fabric woven with concern for the betterment of certain people--if not all of mankind. Simultaneously, though, the narcissists will take actions that promote the ruination of others and the world as they know it. But again, those actions might be ignored or disbelieved by the very people they'll harm most because they don't understand they wee the world so differently than the narcissist. Indeed, they have very different world views.
We Must Continually Remind Ourselves it's but a Created Image, a False Self
Part of living as an authentic self is being willing to look behind that which glitters and admit it is not constructed of pure gold. No, it is not about going through life wearing rose-colored glasses. Furthermore, while I admit there are times to turn the other cheek, there are definitely times when you shouldn't do so. That said, there are people with essentially good hearts striving to live as their best and authentic selves who will slip up from time to time. But they also hold a world view that will cause them to ask for forgiveness when they slip up. So, we'd probably do best to forgive them and not look back. However, those suffering from unhealthy levels of narcissism do not share this same world view. They do not take responsibility for their actions. They blame others for the wrings they have done. We need to keep reminding ourselves that the narcissistic are not like us and furthermore, their well-crafted false selves keep us from perceiving the truth about who they really are.
Hopefully, more and more people will become better able to spot the narcissists amongst us. Remember, one way to do this is to strive to pay attention to the person behind that well-crafted image. Pay attention to both the person's behavior and what he says. Is there consistency between how the person is in public as well as in private? After all, with the person striving to live as the authentic self, there's going to be essentially a match between the public and private personas. Also, there's going to be a match between what the person says and what the person does. On the other hand, the narcissist may say one thing and behave quite differently. Always believe the behavior--especially those subtle or unconscious things people do that give themselves away. After all, it's much easier for people to control their words than those unconscious behaviors.
We talk about the narcissist as living as a false self with its well-crafted image. But despite his best efforts, the narcissist will show his true colors from time to time. Just be sure you understand that these are his true colors, and you don't misperceive the reality of things because you got sucked in by that false self instead. Remember, you do so not only at your own peril, but you could well be opening the way for many more to be harmed, too. Behold the false self of the narcissist and declare it to be what it truly is!