How does healthy self-esteem differ from narcissism?

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Paul  Hokemeyer, PhD
Marriage & Family Therapy

Narcissism differs from healthy self-esteem in the following three ways:

  1. Healthy self-esteem draws us closer to others and ourselves while narcissism keeps us separate and alone.
  2. Healthy self-esteem is based on an honest and accurate appraisal of our strengths and weaknesses while narcissism is based on distortions and false perceptions.
  3. Healthy self-esteem makes us feel good about ourselves and the world in which we live. Narcissism makes us brittle, bitter and unattractive.

While it’s easy to see the difference between narcissism and self-esteem in others, it’s frequently difficult to see it in our selves. The true test is how you feel about yourself and the world. If you feel less then and angry, then you’re skewing on the side of narcissism. If you feel grateful for your life and enjoy stretches of wonder and serenity then you’re possessed of a healthy measure of self-esteem.

Continue Learning about Emotional Health

Emotional Health

How well you handle stress, anger, relationships, work, family life-it all factors into your emotional health. Finding balance in life-as well as peace of mind-helps us cope with life's ups and downs. Take time to explore new ways ...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.