Sunday, August 3, 2008

Narcissism vs. Confidence

In Greek mythology, Naricissus was a vain young man, who went hunting one day and became thirsty, so he stopped at a stream for a drink. While bending down to drink, he saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with it. He didn't dare drink the water for fear that he would break the reflection. He ended up dying of thirst where he sat staring at his reflection in the water.

From this story, the term narcissistic came to be. It means one who is exceptionally vain, or according to, has an "inordinate fascination with one's self".

Confidence on the other hand is a belief in yourself, or self-assurance.

It can be argued that too much confidence can lead to narcissism, but I don't want to make that argument. Being self-assured and aware of your self, both strength and weaknesses, does not lead to one being preoccupied with one's self or being fascinated with yourself.

In today's society it seems that when one has a high opinion of himself, that person is "cocky" or "arrogant" or another equally derogatory term. Having a high opinion of one's self seems to be distasteful to society. When complimented, it's socially acceptable to downplay or entirely dismiss the compliment. When told, "You look nice" it's not acceptable to say, "I know." Why not? If you know, then why can't you say?

Why is this? Why is it so wrong to have an accurate assessment of your assets? Everyone has good qualities, strengths, things they like about themselves. What is so wrong about stating unequivocally the things that are good about one's self? Why do we feel uncomfortable saying, "I like this about myself" or "I'm good at this"? Why do people feel uncomfortable talking good about themselves, but have no problem pointing out their flaws, weaknesses or shortcomings?

Many of you know about the doozie of a week I had last week. I had plenty of opportunities to think poorly of myself and pay particular attention to negative things about myself and my life - things that I didn't have, things that I wasn't, things I wished were different, things that made me feel bad and so on. I took advantage of those opportunities and made an already difficult week worse for myself.

I woke up this morning and had had enough. On my mirror, I have a vinyl sticker that says simply, "Who will you be today?" I looked at it this morning and thought about it. Who would I be today? I decided I would be happy today. I started thinking of the things that I like about myself. I came up with a couple right off the bat, but as I continued thinking about it, I realized I needed to make a list. I got a little pad of paper and a pen and starting writing. I was a little uncomfortable doing it at first, it's not something that I generally do. But, I decided I would press through the awkwardness and finish my list.

I kept the pad with me throughout church services today and as I would think of something, I would add it to the list. As I was doing this, I thought of the song "Count Your Many Blessings" and realized that I was doing just what the song suggested. I was naming blessings one by one.

I have a high opinion of myself and I believe I have good reason to have such. I believe you do too and I would encourage you to make your own list. Whether or not you share it is up to you, but I found it to be rather therapeutic today. Being honest about my strengths and things I like about myself was an eye-opening experience.

I'm not narcissistic, I have a healthy and positive view of myself.

And there's not a thing wrong with that.

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