We all have a bit of narcissism in us; it's just a question of how healthy this part of our personality is.
By definition, people who have strong narcissistic tendencies lack self-awareness of how their actions affect other people.
That's why it's important to know where you stand on the narcissism scale, so you can test your reality against that of others. Your support network can tell whether you need to be brought down to Earth or if you're generally seeing things as others do. But first, try to get a gauge on it yourself by answering these four questions:
1. How easy is it for you to make someone you care about, such as a romantic partner or sibling, feel like you support and understand them?
Ask a loved one to answer this question for you.
Quite often, someone with narcissistic tendencies lacks an accurate understanding of how supportive they are. If you get feedback that people generally don't feel supported by you, then it's time to learn to build empathy, develop a more advanced ability to take on the perspectives of other people and practice experiencing gratitude toward people more often.
2. When your social media posts don't get the likes or comments that you were expecting, how much does it affect your mood?
It's wonderful to believe that what you say is super important. What it comes down to is whether or not you experience a severe ego insult when the world doesn't agree with you or recognize your greatness.
Some narcissists make the mistake of expecting that, no matter what, their "friends," "connections" and "followers" should reflect back to them their greatness via social media.
Don't get me wrong; a strong sense of self-importance can go a long way. Inflated self-worth can rally people around you. It can inspire people to take action and it can help you further your career. However, if your fragile sense of self leaves you floored when the world fails to reflect back to you your greatness, it's time to work on yourself.
Start by surrounding yourself with humble people and learn to combine your narcissism with a sense of having your feet planted securely on the floor.
3. When you're chatting with someone, how well do you listen as opposed to steering the conversation toward sharing your own opinions or experiences?
The ability to listen to what other people have to say and make them feel heard and supported is an essential ingredient of a happy marriage and rewarding friendships.
Again, the best way to know if you're a good listener is to ask a friend or family member whose opinion you value and who will be honest with you. You must be prepared, though, to hear that you suck as a listener. As a happiness expert, I am certain that the quality of being a good listener who stays in the moment and doesn't get lost in his or her own thoughts is one of the biggest predictors of living a fulfilling life.
This ties into the next question....
4. When you learn about someone else's success, amazing ability or good fortune, do you celebrate them or do you retreat into a painful, self-referential, what-does-this-say-about-me state of mind?
If you discovered that your neighbor (who you usually like) just upgraded to a fancy car, a new model that you covet, would you feel threatened? Would you feel happy for your neighbor in this situation or would you feel compelled to upgrade your car to make sure that, based on outward appearances, you look like you're the richest one on the block?
If you're constantly comparing yourself to others and feeling threatened by their achievements, then there's very little room for happiness. Any benefits of self-importance will be short-lived if you're constantly in self-referential mode. I can't say enough about the importance of minimizing self-referential thinking.
In a nutshell, you must learn to see others' success as a genuine reason for celebration.
The happiest people break out into celebratory mode when the people they love get what they want.
Of course, everyone is entitled to go through periods of hypersensitivity and depression, which tend to amplify what's wrong with one's own life, but in between these periods, it's necessary to learn to bask in the glory of others.
I must add that therapy with the right psychologist can gradually alter unhealthy, narcissistic tendencies. However, unlike the prognosis of most other people who seek therapy, achieving substantial change in someone with a narcissistic personality can take months to years, even with the help of psychoanalysis.
Use these four questions as a guide for determining whether or not you need to develop some of the skills mentioned in this post. Remember, developing these skills is essential for having a satisfying life filled with amazing love, close friends and great career success.