For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)
What is a narcissist?
Psychologists define a clinical narcissist by behaviors such as these:
- Jealousy and possessiveness
- Excessive need to feel special, adored, loved, appreciated, or admired
- Rage attacks when you do not sufficiently meet his/her needs
- Controlling behaviors (trying to control how you spend your time, who you talk to, how you dress, etc.)
- Inflated self-esteem, or grandiosity (bragging, “fishing” for compliments)
- Dramatic, insecure behaviors
- Expecting you to take responsibility for making him/her feel better about him/herself
- Blaming you for behaviors or feelings (i.e., “you made me do this,” or “you made me feel this way.”)
- Not taking responsibility for angry behavior and justifying angry outbursts
- An attitude that demonstrates “the world revolves around me” and “you need to cater to my ideas, opinions, thoughts, and feelings.”
- An unwillingness to reflect on his/her own behaviors
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
- When narcissism has a hold of someone, they will feel very lonely and desperate for the affection of a ‘perfect’ person who will be sympathetic and adore them. Sadly this ‘perfect’ person is actually an illusion in the narcissist’s mind, a tormenting fantasy that will make their life miserable and make them very hard on the people who they live with.
- Because narcissists’ self-image is so scanty and fragile, they depend on the reflection of themselves in others’ perception to be aware of themselves. Social isolation, such as comes following the loss of a job, the failure of a marriage, or the alienation of friends and family, has swift and terrible effects on narcissists. Their thinking quickly deteriorates into chaotic incoherency and disorganization.
Many of us can identify ourselves in at least some parts of this list. While true narcissism is something that exists to the extreme in some, in our culture today, we have created a climate that encourages narcissistic behavior. Either by pouring on our children an excessive amount of self-esteem-building adoration, or conversely by denying our children any praise at all—only dishing out large helpings of criticism—we may inadvertently be creating little narcissists.
Narcissism = Pride
Looking at this list of behaviors, can’t they also be summed up in one word: Pride? Narcissistic behavior is pride run amok. Since pride is the first, middle and last name of our arch-enemy Satan, why would it surprise us to see his Coat of Arms stamped on everything in our society? We are becoming a generation of the small “i” Think i-pod; i-phone; i-touch; i-pad and you begin to get the picture. We can’t be capital “I” because that title is reserved for Satan (in his thinking anyway—we all know who the great “I AM” really is.) Isn’t it interesting though that this whole concept of “i-such and such” has become so ingrained in our thinking.
Pride disguises itself in many ways; it is a true chameleon. Pride can be exhibited as either exaggerated self-importance and self-adulation, or it can flip over and be self-loathing and exaggerated inferior feelings. It can either be an exaggerated sense of one’s greatness or an exaggerated sense of one’s low esteem. Either side of that coin is pride, because the focus is self in both instances. You can read the list above again and see that this behavior is describing both sides of the same coin—either the person is boastful, bragging, fishing for complements, taking advantage of others, arrogant and haughty, or they are envious, insecure, inferior.
Is there a cure for Narcissism/Pride?
Oh is there ever. Who had more cause than anyone else to be prideful?
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire.” But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” And: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail” (Hebrews 1:1-14).
This is Jesus Christ as He is seen from the Heavenly places—This is very God of very God! But look at Jesus, as He appeared to us, when He became flesh, to dwell among us, to identify Himself with us, and to take our place in the judgment for our sin:
…but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:6).
The cure for Narcissism is Jesus!
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus [having the same mind as Christ]: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!(Philippians 2: 1-6 NIV).
Not I, But Christ!
It is not me, trying to behave like Jesus. It is not me, trying to push down or patch up all that is wrong with myself so that I can be more like Jesus. It is not me, wanting to get people to notice me because I am behaving like Jesus. It is not Me at all! It is Christ in me, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). It is having the mind of Christ (For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16). Only Christ in me—His mind, His will, His emotions, His thoughts, His decisions, His love, His compassion, His comfort, His encouragement, His wisdom can cure me of my continuous focus on my poor, poor pitiful “i.”
“Jesus, my thoughts of self—either feeling superior to others or feeling inferior to others, my feelings of desperation and needing to be needed, noticed and loved are often so consuming that I almost wish I could really die. So, right now I choose to die to ME, the little “i-am,” and I exchange all of these things for You, the I AM THAT I AM. Come and be my will today. Come and be my emotions, my love, my compassion, my wisdom. I exchange “i-am” for Your mind, Your will, Your emotions, Your thoughts about my life and situation, Your decisions, Your love, Your compassion, Your comfort, Your encouragement. Today I refuse to be a narcissist. Today I choose to die to self and to live from You, not for You, but from You.”