This Insight is Helping Me Understand the Narcissists in My Life

Maybe it can help you, too.

Linda Smith


Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

There are few descriptors that we love to throw around more than “narcissist”.

We use it to label everyone from our selfish ex to social media influences who maybe post more selfies than we have determined to be appropriate.

The origin of narcissism can be traced back to Greek mythology, where the beautiful, arrogant young man, Narcissus, fell in love with his own image in a pool of water. Unable to look away and leave, he wasted away and died.

The statistics vary, but it’s estimated that approximately 1–5% of the population are true narcissists.

Narcissism, like most characteristics, exists on a continuum, and can vary in degree over time, increasing and decreasing depending on life events or circumstances.

Some level of narcissism is healthy and normal. We all, after all, have a desire to be seen and admired.

At the other end of the spectrum is narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), which can include impaired empathy, viewing oneself as exceptional and displaying grandiosity and attention-seeking characteristics.

So, while we’re all somewhere on the continuum, true, diagnosed narcissism is fairly rare.

Despite this, I can think of a few people off the top of my head who I consider narcissists. I am betting that you can, too.

Knowing the importance of empathy, and the power in relating to each other’s experiences (yes, even narcissists), I dug a little deeper and learned something that is changing the way I view and relate to the more narcissistic people in my life.

Maybe this insight can help you, too.

In Brené Brown’s new book, Atlas of the Heart, she describes narcissism as shame-based fear of being ordinary. She sees narcissism as “the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”

And, when you think about it, it really is true.

Narcissists puff up their accomplishments and worth not because they think so much of themselves, but because they think so little of…



Linda Smith

content creator | creative | coffee-enthusiast | Enneagram 9