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For all of the talk of "self-love" and "self-care" we throw around in our huggy "woke" culture, nothing seems to piss people off more than someone who actually does love themselves.
Whoa. How dare you? Who do you think you are? Shouldn't you be self-deprecating when someone compliments you? Make yourself smaller so as not to make others uncomfortable.
I like myself—quite a lot. I enjoy my own company; I think I am a good friend. I would want someone like me for a friend. I think I am funny and compelling and attractive.
And…I can be super opinionated and quick and fierce in my judgments. I can vacillate between enthusiastic obsession of an idea or a person and then just as quickly become uninterested. I am kind of an asshole sometimes. I can be so in my head and my inner dialogue, that I can miss emotional cues from others and unintentionally hurt people and have no idea that I have done so. I am acutely aware of my shadow aspects, and I do not say that they are part of my charm. I am more inclined to say that somehow, in spite of them, I am still basically a person that I love and feel fondly about.
This does not make me a narcissist.
I think perhaps it makes me a person with a rather healthy sense of self.
I am fully aware of the more challenging parts of my personality, and I do not stand with my hands on my hips and scream with a sneer, "Deal with it!" I smile and shrug and say, "Well, this is how I am and how I live my life, and I am not really interested in whether you approve of me or not, because I feel happy with me and my life and the way that I live it, and I am always open to growth and new insight."
Based on virtually 90 percent of articles written as of late, there seem to be only three personality types—empaths, sociopaths, and narcissists. The general gist of these articles is that empaths are marvelously in tune, selfless humans who are victims of the whims of greedy, self-centered narcissistic sociopaths who plot and manipulate the soul crushing of the angelic empath purely for their own evil delight. This seems to be the only narrative, and I do not buy into it.
I am a tremendously empathic person and have found myself in situations where that has been taken advantage of by troubled, emotionally damaged people and that has next to nothing to do with the other person (insert narcissist/sociopath) and almost everything to do with my inability to chose me first. When I have put my foot down and drawn a clear line of boundary, I have been called selfish, egocentric, and narcissistic. There is a fuzzy line between loving others in a healthy way and putting others' needs in front of ours which is martyrish and enabling.
There is a world of difference between liking who you are, being proud of and acknowledging your strengths and talents, and being a fatheaded blowhard who has to tell everyone about how fantastic they are.
The latter springs from deep feelings of inadequacy and fear most often, so that is not love of the self, but a sputtering Wizard of Oz quaking behind the curtain.
As far as the sociopath archetype goes, that is a mythical creation of literature, myth, and film. Most people are just not that brilliant or cunning to manipulate others in that fashion. Most often it is an accident of unconscious behavior that stems from past trauma, abuse, that is fear based, with self-preservation as the end goal. Rarely does it arise from some diabolical plan of screwing with someone's mind for their own twisted amusement.
There is always a risk to sliding yourself or others into a labeled box and popping a top on it. I would like to think that we are all infinitely more nuanced and interesting than a stereotype. Close your eyes and sit with the essence of who you are and have that make you smile and want to wrap your arms around yourself and say "I love you" and be touched at the tenderness directed toward yourself. Don't make jokes, don't apologize. That is not narcissistic, but self-caring. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If they do, you can be sure that they are a sociopath.
Jodeen Revere revels in her unconventional, multifaceted dream life. She is an actor, a writer, Thai yoga massage therapist, creative movement and dance enthusiast, and RYT-200 yoga teacher currently on an endless sabbatical. She writes a blog chronicling her cancertastic adventures. She loves writing, reading, viewing and heatedly discussing film, eating really good snacks, and chillin' with her cats Julian and Tilda. She is a kind and good-natured smart ass. She is very funny. Just ask her. Her favorite human, ever, is her daughter, Lily.