William James once said that “The deepest principle of Human Nature is the craving to be appreciated.” And while being the center of the attention sounds like a good thing, it can be a recipe for disaster.
From the moment we’re born, we humans feel a never-ending need for attention. And of course we do. Otherwise, we can’t survive in the world. Our lives and overall happiness depends on the bonds we form with others. Especially when we’re just a little piece of meat. While we’re wearing diapers we need someone to take care of us. Someone to feed us and protect us. Basically, there is no other way. Otherwise, we’ll perish.
But except the physical need, the level of attention we receive from others is also psychological: We also need to feel loved, recognized and appreciated for who we are. A lot of times the psychological need is so great, that people will do almost anything – most of the times stupid things – to get attention, including committing a crime or attempting to take their lives.1
If you examine your actions carefully, you’ll see that almost all of them are motivated by your desire to satisfy your hunger for attention. But this will not only exhaust your energy, make you often look pathetic, narcissistic, but also make you completely dependent on the attention you get from others, which is totally a bad thing.
How Your Ego Is Destroying You?
We can argue about whether narcissists are born or made. Whether our parents pushed us towards becoming self-absorbed jerks or it’s simply in our blood to dominate each conversation and always talk about ourselves. Truth is, it doesn’t quite matter. What matters is your level of self-love. If you don’t know how much you love to talk about yourself – which will be absolutely correct if you’re narcissistic – you can just do the following:
You can easily recognize if you’re self-centered egomaniac by thinking about the following thing for a minute: How much time in a conversation you think or talk about yourself?
You don’t know? Call your friend or chat with someone online to see what will happen. Track how much time you’ll need to start feeling inpatient when the conversation doesn’t directly involve you in some way.
While some think that being narcissistic is not a big of a deal “Hey, I’m just sharing how my day went by,” the people around you don’t feel the same way. Our desire for attention and validation can hurt and even insult others. But that’s just part of the problem. There are other, much greater stakes in line if we’re self-absorbed pricks who can see no further than the end of our nose.
You Know Everything That’s Why You Don’t Listen To Others
Talking with a proven, 100% genuine narcissist is a real challenge. You rarely can impress them or win their attention. Unless, of course, you’re not talking about them or about something that really interests them.
You may be pouring your souls and sharing your most sacred moments but finally, be interrupted with something like “let me tell you what happened to me yesterday…”
If this is your manifesto: “I know best, why bother listening to what others have to say?” You hardly accept other people’s opinions or other recommendations. Even if your really smart, the lack of understanding and perception will lead to an outdated form of thinking.
You’re Addicted To Attention And Probably Other Not So Practical Habits
There is a reason egomaniacs are hooked to social media. The narcissistic community worships applications like Facebook and Instagram. Why? It’s super easy to satisfy your urge for validation these days. You no longer have to go out and praise yourself in front of others. You can just take a picture, add a few filters and you’re ready. The likes will satisfy your cravings and further prove your superiority for a while. Later, you can just add another picture.
There’s also a reason self-centered people are good communicators. Since they can rarely shut up and listen to others, they tend to make friends easily. Or, let’s say, connect with people easily. The fresh audience for them is like taking an alcoholic to the liqueur store. They can’t get enough.
This habit of sharing their lives is not only annoying to the other people, watching or listening, it’s also harmful to the people doing it. They hardly have time to do their work or anything else. Additionally, since they can’t accept any form of a critic, ending in rehab is common.
You’re Often Depressed And You Don’t Know Why
While we can easily spot an extrovert narcissist, there are also such who are not so popular but still vividly practice the self-loving game daily. These guys tend to dream big and often fantasize about them being famous, super strong, superior. These narcissists are even more dangerous than the ones who constantly speak about themselves. The main reason is that they suppress their true feelings and under pressure, they can explode, i.e. hurt others.
Drugs, alcohol and other stimulants are often your best friend because you need a way to handle the moments of doubt and depression. Egomaniacs abuse medicaments when they are challenged or when they’re not praised, enough. Since they rely solely on the attention they get from others, their inner self is weak and it can’t handle the setbacks life throws at them. Their inability to handle a direct confrontation or accept that they have flaws often triggers a depression.
But these are only fragments of the reasons your ego is slowly destroying your life if you love yourself above everything else. Here are some more: You’re insecure and you can hardly decide what to do; You spend an awful amount of time hiding your flaws; You most probably don’t have any real friends because they can’t stand you; Your desire to control the whole process leads to burnout; You rarely trust or like others because you think you’re the best.
Bottom line, being self-centered prick have some consequences. There is a way, though. If you want to make a change, of course. You can actually survive without constant appraisal about your efforts. You just need to be honest with yourself. To avoid denying your self-absorbed nature and stop pretending you’re somehow more phenomenal than others.
Wait. What? You don’t think there’s is anything wrong with you? Well, saying this actually qualifies you for the hall of narcissism.
It’s Not About You
If your parents hardwire your brain by repeating stuff like “you’re special”; “you’re the smartest”; “there’s no one like you in this world,” Or, for instance, you’re a natural beauty. It’s actually normal to turn out to become a sworn self-absorbed a-hole. After all, everyone around you is fighting for your attention. Some want to be like you others want to be with you. Since the demand is so high, it’s normal to start believing the mob following you everywhere you go. “Since all these people like me, I must be special.” However, the moment you start believing this shit is the moment things go wrong.
No matter, how many and what type of roles you take in your life, it’s always about others. It’s always about assisting others to prosper. I don’t know who said it, but I’m sure there’s a quote that states something like this: “If you want to be successful, help others succeed, first.” Here are some examples to further clarify my point:
If you’re a parent, it’s all about your kids. It’s no longer about what you want;
If you’re in a relationship, and if you really want to make it work, it’s all about making your partner feel good;
If you’re working as a customer service representative, janitor, salesman in the local store, it’s all about the clients;
If you’re running a small business, it’s all about your clients;
If you’re managing people, you’re a director, supervisor, even CEO, it’s all about your employees.
Most of the above are commonly misunderstood.
Your brand is not about you, entirely, it’s about the people using your brand. Without your customers, you’re just a regular guy with something to sell. The local store is full of mediocre merch that’s constantly on sale.
If you’re managing people you may often think that you should focus more on the customers and on what your competitors are doing, neglecting the front line – your employees and their wellbeing. But the above is not entirely true. You need to focus on the people doing the heavy lifting. Making sure they’re also satisfied and feel good. Also, when you’re responsible for others, it’s no longer “I did it,” it’s “they did it.”
“But I really, really love to talk about myself and to share my experiences with the world. I can’t help it. I’m really good at what I’m doing and I want others to see this.”
Hold your horses, cowboy. Let’s get something out of the way before we proceed: You’re not nearly as good or as important as you think you are.
Even if you’re good at your craft, even if you’re important – like, you’re the president and shit – other people don’t give a rats ass if what you’re doing is not benefiting them in a way.
If you get elected for president or mayor, do you really think that people will love you, or want to talk to you, if the only thing you talk about is yourself?
Hell. No. They’ll most probably bombard your social media account like a locust army. Or literally bombard you, depending in which part of the world you live in.
Here’s what you can do to prevent people beating the crap out of you:
Let Go Your Ego
It might sound strange, impossible, extraordinary, or even delusional to think about it, or even say it but you, too, have flaws. You too suck. You too make mistakes.
The first step towards abandoning your narcissistic nature is to accept that you have flaws and limits. Don’t hide your defects. Laugh at these flaws and don’t take in personally when people laugh with you.
Your prime objective is to become a healthy narcissist. What’s that?
I know. It sounds complicated and strange. “A healthy narcissist? Is this really a thing or you made it up?” you might ask.
Apparently, it does exist as a concept.2 It’s basically a mixture of a normal human being and a self-centered jerk. The difference is that healthy narcissist possesses all the advantages of the common narcissist and non of their weaknesses. Something like Wesley Snipes in the movie Blade – where he’s half-human, half-vampire.
These rare breeds have a strong sense of self. They are grounded and real. Such people don’t need much validation from others. They admit when they’re wrong and will listen to what you have to say without arguably interrupting you with a boring anecdote from their daily routine.
Thanks to their ability to actually listen to other people, they can connect with them and develop strong relationships. Additionally, thanks to their ability to concentrate on things outside of themselves, they can focus their efforts towards something they love – a craft of some sort or a business.
Here are some additional characteristics that are distinctive for the healthy narcissist:
High outward self-confidence in line with reality;
They are really concern about others and their ideas;
Does not exploit or devalue others;
They have values and principles which they follow.
It sounds interesting, right? It sounds uncommon for grandiose self-lovers who only think about themselves. That’s why it’s called healthy narcissism, duh.
So, how can you become this upgraded form of a human being? How can you love yourself and at the same time acknowledge that other people also exist on this planet?
Well, it’s not that easy. It requires a lot of work and a lot of patience. It also requires a lot of empathy towards others.
Based on my research, I found the following 3 ways that will help you to let go of your ego and become a more unselfish person:
Realize That Quite Often You Suck
The first step towards the change is to understand that you’re not perfect. No matter how good you are at a specific skill or task, you’re definitely not the best. This will not only make you more real, but it will also give you room for improvement. Because, if you really believe that there is really nothing wrong with you, you’ll never make a step forward towards becoming better – improving yourself.
Cut The Praising Self-Talk For A Moment
If you can’t pause your internal monologue, constantly praising your persona, you’ll never really listen, and more importantly, understand what others are saying. However, if you can halt these thoughts for a second, fine-tune your antenna to shift towards the person in front, you’ll connect on a deeper level. You’ll see what they are talking about. Feel their pain or their joy and build a far better relationships with others. Interrupt your self-love for a moment and take their perspective. Imagine what they might be feeling, doing, thinking. Enter their world for just a bit. This way you’ll finally start to get people.
Give A Shit About Others More Often
Or show empathy. Being compassionate is a way to relate to others. And it’s a skill. A skill that needs improvements. Most people assume they understand people. They quickly judge them and categorize them.
The latter doesn’t help at all and it will only make you judge others incorrectly. You must start with the assumption that you don’t know others. To look at them with zero biases. The people around you present a mask to the world and if you mistake it for reality, you’ll be wrong. Open your mind to seeing people in a new light.
Some Closing Thoughts
If you think that your job. Your book. Your blog. Your business. Are all about you, you’re doing it wrong. Everything you do is about others. Or at least it should be.
Yes, you need to cover your basic needs, like having enough food in your belly, but after that, it’s all about others. About your kids and about the people around you. Especially if you’re a parent, managing people, or running a business.
If you think that you’re the center of the world you’re delusional. And you’ll soon be alone and desperate.
If you’re keen on talking about yourself, reverse this normal impulse to hear the other person’s point of view. It won’t hurt. You can only benefit from it.
No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt
It might sound strange to some, but there are a lot of cases where the people committing crimes do it so they can get attention.
This idea is mostly recognized by psychoanalysts. You can see more about the idea, here.