Much as it sounds like it, this article is not going to be about bashing the narcissists out there.  Rather, what it intends to facilitate is an awareness of how even narcissism can become an awakening. 

First, everyone is a narcissist to some degree.  We all have a primary concern for self, self-protection, self-actualization and self-facilitation and more.  We all wish to fulfill our desires.  So, in the same way that an infant, toddler and pre-schooler is narcissistic, we are all similarly narcissistic--in that we want what we want when we want it. Our maturity comes into play when we are able to recognize that it is not always possible for us to have what we want when want it. A person who has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), on the other hand, not only never grew out of that early narcissism but has added a whole identity to it. 

Most of us, have by now seen the list of DSM-V characteristics of the narcissist.  It’s a very popular topic.  And so it should be.  Prior to the past four or five years this very common issue was barely noticed in books, blogs and media. 

Many have now begun to recognize that a previous relationship or a parent was an undiagnosed NPD.   They have begun to pull themselves out of the dysfunctionality of that dynamic by drawing appropriate boundaries and learning how to self-nurture. 

Many have also begun to look back over history to see the NPD or the sociopath in leadership positions around the globe—with disastrous results.  Currently, the Republican candidate for President of the United States has been diagnosed long distance by several different mental health practitioners as NPD.  And we can also look back at various cult leaders to understand that they also were probably NPD or sociopathic. 

So it’s hard for us to imagine that we might be able to get something out of narcissism, particularly something spiritual.  But we can. 

First, those impacted by the antics of the NPD can gain exponentially by waking up to the fact that all of their bargaining will not ever get the NPD to see it or do it in a way that has one iota to do with anything or anyone other than the NPD. Bargaining is that magical thinking we do, when we say to ourselves, “IF I do X, or think X or try X, THEN he’ll do, think or try Y.”  And we try X over and over and over and over again until we realize we just can’t get over, under, around or through the wall that is created by the NPD’s defense mechanisms. 

Once the person wakes up to the fact that there is no changing the NPD, to make them care, it becomes possible then to make major leaps in consciousness.  They may begin to understand that the only person that they can help is themselves, that there is no such thing as changing another human being, and that they need to go to their core to survive the pain of letting go of this old trance state.  This can be a time of enlightened sorrow for the person learning to get out of relationship with an NPD. 

But it is also true that our own narcissism is part of how we bless the world.  The self-interest that allows us to think about ourselves, to pray for ourselves, to heal ourselves, to seek the truth about ourselves, is nothing short of profound.  We must be very focused and very self-involved in order to grow into a real person. 

That doesn’t mean that we won’t also have and demonstrate great feelings of compassion for others.  But it does mean that that will not really ever happen until we have first begun to have great feelings of compassion for ourselves.  This thing of self-love is the foundational energy of compassion for others.

When we assume that what we should be doing with our lives is only being there and serving others, we contrive a false spirituality that has nothing whatsoever to do with becoming real.  We must learn first to be present in and with the self, to honor and love it with depth and real concern.  Then we will be fully opened, and can therefore, give that same honor, depth and concern to others.

- Coming out August of 2017, by Andrea Mathews, and Llewellyn Publishing:  "Letting Go of Good:  Dispel the Myth of Goodness to Find Your Genuine Self".  

-Andrea Mathews is a psychotherapist, author of three other books, and the host of the popular Authentic Living Show on She also offers inspirational speaking to large and small groups on a variety of topics.  Learn more about her and her work at

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