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Mirror Mirror On The Wall . . . July 29, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Life Balance, People, Spirit & Ego.

When we give ourselves permission (i.e., freedom) to enjoy the journey through life by doing what makes us happy, we become enthusiastic about our endeavors, our creations, our passions.

We feel the joy of life and start to shine!

How do we share that increased enthusiasm and passion with others without being labeled a narcissist in the process?

Well, first, let’s take a peak at what a true narcissist looks like.

In A Field Guide To Narcissism, Carl Vogel (Psychology Today) shared examples of extreme narcissistic behavior:

* There’s the groom who wouldn’t let his fiancée’s overweight friend be a bridesmaid because he didn’t want her near him in the wedding pictures.

* The entrepreneur who launched a meeting for new employees by explaining that nobody ever gets anywhere working for someone else.

* The woman who had such confidence in her great taste, she routinely redecorated her daughter’s home without asking.

* The guy who found himself so handsome, he took a self-portrait with a Polaroid every night before bed to preserve the moment.

These individuals are looking at the world through the eyes of Ego.  (Not too surprising given the way we are socialized.)  Ego does things in order to gain validation and admiration from others, not to share joy with others.

In short, Ego acts in ways designed to bolster its Ego.

In the extreme, narcissism develops ~ an absorption with external opinions and appearances rather than a healthy recognition of inherent value.

From the same article:

* Real-life narcissists desperately need other people to validate their worth.

* They feel entitled to special treatment, are easily offended, and readily harbor grudges.

* Narcissists take all the credit, and none of the blame.   Fault, if it exists, is always attributed to others.

* Narcissists never see their own contribution to relationship woes.

* Narcissists are defensive and needy.

* In order to maintain an inflated self-regard, they throw temper tantrums when their unreasonable expectations are not met, and display a shocking selfishness and complete inability to engage in teamwork.

* An unhappy narcissist generally believes that his main problem is that other people don’t treat him as well as he deserves.

People on the spiritual path are rarely in danger of becoming narcissistic.

Instead of looking for external validation, they accept themselves as is, without worrying much about what other people think.  They look within, rather than without, for guidance on what to be, say or do.

They are more interested in sharing joy on the journey than in receiving accolades for reaching some set destination.

Plus, they are disinclined to throw temper tantrums.

So what happens when someone on the spiritual path runs into a narcissist?


In fact, anyone who views the world through the eyes of Ego is apt to claim that those on the spiritual path are becoming selfish and self-absorbed.

Why?  Well, as a general rule, we are not encouraged by society to share our talents fully with the world.  Instead, we are admonished to subdue our enthusiasm and passion and joy, and feign humility, in order to be perceived as humble ~ a personality trait seen by many as a virtue.

Should we subdue our creative enthusiasm and joy to satisfy others and comply with societal expectations?


We are born with different skills, interests, and abilities.  Some of us are born to be musicians ~ like Mozart who started composing at age 5.  Others are born to dance ~ like Martha Graham.

Still others are born to create with paint or words or food or jewelry.

Why should anyone allow their field of dreams to lie fallow in order to be viewed as humble?

Why should anyone allow creativity to lie buried in order to foster humility?

Who would that serve?

When friends, neighbors, co-workers, or acquaintances discourage us from allowing our innate creativity and joy to shine, they are looking to their own Egos for guidance.

Maybe they want us to “tone it down” because they are jealous or envious of  our talent, skill, or ability.

Maybe our dedication makes them feel guilty, and, rather than pursuing their own passion with purpose, they encourage us to hide ours away.

Maybe they have been raised to believe that human beings should “live small” rather than living out loud.

Maybe they . . .

Bottom line:  it doesn’t matter.  What others think of us is none of our business.

We are not here to satisfy them, we are here to share the best parts of ourselves with the world.

We do that by filling ourselves with enthusiasm for life and by sharing that enthusiasm and joy with anyone who is interested.

Those who drift away are bound to terra firma by the invisible ties of Ego.  Let them go.

Those who gravitate to us are looking at life through the more generous and compassionate eyes of Spirit.

They want us to grow in happiness by fully utilizing our talents and abilities.  They know that our candle flame, no matter how bright, will not extinguish their own, nor diminish their inherent worth.

They encourage us to Shine On!

So, back to the original question:

How do we share our increased enthusiasm and passion with others without being labeled a narcissist in the process?

Oh, we can’t avoid being labeled.  We learn to shrug off the labels (good and bad) so we can fully embrace the dance of life.

Quote:  Don’t worry about what the world wants from you.  Focus on what makes you feel more fully alive. What the world really needs are people who are fully alive. ~ Joseph Campbell

Related posts:  Our Deepest Fear: Our Inner Light * So, What Do You Do? (My Literary Quest) * Daily Prompt ~ Mirror, Mirror * Daily Prompt ~ Mirror Miror #2


1. cindy - July 29, 2010

How appropriate that I should read this post immediately after becoming annoyed at somebody who is a vicarious narcissist; her children are just the berries and outdo everyone else. All she talks about. What’s your take on that Nancy?

nrhatch - July 29, 2010

The same as yours . . . she’s a vicarious narcissist. 🙄

She sees her children as an extension of herself. Accolades tossed their way (even by her) are validation of her worth as a parent.

And she gets away with it because bragging about our children is more socially acceptable than fishing for compliments for ourselves. 😉

2. Joanne - July 29, 2010

This is so relevant to my life… You always know how to accurately express my own sentiments. I’ve been accused of being a narcissist a few times before.

Having been extremely shy for a major portion of my growing up years and as a result, intentionally hiding my talents, this accusation really disturbed me — until I stopped to consider the source(s). Once again, you nailed it…!

nrhatch - July 29, 2010

To someone on an Ego Trip . . . we probably do appear narcissistic. The difference:

They are dancing for the applause, even if they don’t enjoy dancing.
We are dancing because we love to dance. :mrgreen:

3. Loreen Lee - July 30, 2010

So, you have an individual “X” who is called ‘narcissistic’ by an individual “Y” who is thought to be too humble. The relative ‘compliment’ is returned by “X” regarding “Y”. But no change happens, because they both live by the adage, “You should not take note of what others say about you” (a paraphrase). So “X” remains a narcissist, and “Y” remains too humble. Question: Have they ‘wasted their words? Could this even be called in any way ‘negative thinking’ by X and Y. grin grin.

nrhatch - July 30, 2010

Your hypothetical is confusing. So let me answer it this way:

Point A: The narcissist loves himself too much to change to suit anyone else. Once he has alienated his last pretend friend, he no longer has an external reference point to use because everyone avoids him like the plague.

At that point, he looks within for guidance and realizes that his worth lies beyond all labels.

As he accepts himself for the first time, he begins to grow in compassion, kindness, generosity, etc.

He realizes that the only true happiness in life comes from within.

Point B: The humble person, frequently congratulated for being so humble, becomes proud of his humility and eventually becomes a narcissist.

At that point, . . . see Point A

4. Loreen Lee - July 30, 2010

Just read your latest A-Z and found the original of the paraphrase:

What you think of me is none of my business. ~ Wayne Dyer
Guess I’ll continue being a humble narcissist! grin grin.

5. Carole - July 31, 2010

I remember Wayne Dyer – need to look him up again – anyway, his quote “What you think of me is none of my business.” is SO ME! I admit, it has become ME now, in my old age. All the years of agony, now gone–I outlived them! HA

nrhatch - July 31, 2010

When we realize that everyone’s opinion of us is based on LIMITED information . . . we no longer waste time worrying about our reputation with others.

Instead, we focus on becoming the best “ME” we can be. : )

And, yes, all those years of agony . . . evaporated into the ether.

Thanks for your comment.

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