The dominant thinking on bullies has changed dramatically over the years. Folks used to see bullies as insecure and cowardly underneath, with something to prove. But the truth is often much simpler: some people taunt and torture because it feels good. These folks enjoy fighting and provoking fights. To them, it’s fun.
You can confront compensatory grandiosity with relative ease and safety. The vulnerable narcissist merely seeks reassurance. So, the more you reassure them, the better they inwardly begin to feel about themselves. But you can’t deal with or confront the truly egomaniacal narcissist with the same ease or in the same way.
What really makes you extraordinary – and warrants both recognition and affirmation – is what you do with your gifts and how you conduct yourself in your relationships. This is the very essence of merit.
All of us need to do a much better job of helping our children develop healthy self-esteem. Parents especially need to be mindful of this. And that doesn’t mean giving our children ego-boosts all the time. Rather, it means helping them develop a properly balanced sense of self-worth.
For the sake of our emotional, psychological, and spiritual health, it’s always a good idea to strive for balance in most areas of life. But when it comes to our character development, nowhere is the need for balance greater than with respect to our sense of self-importance or self-worth.
The grateful character feels obliged, not entitled. And the grateful character pays his or her debts.
If you want to help make a person more narcissistic, give them lots of recognition, praise, and reinforcement for their natural “gifts.” But if you want them to have more healthy self-regard, be sure to recognize them for what they do with what they’ve been given.
Learning to overcome our natural narcissistic inclinations is what the process of sound character development is all about.
There’s a continuum of severity to character impairments, ranging from mild character immaturity to severe character dysfunction. Not all the difficult people in your life will meet the criteria established for a true character “disorder.” But that doesn’t mean that some of these folks aren’t significantly disturbed characters capable of making your life miserable. The degree of character impairment a person has, however, does have a lot to do with how likely it is they might change (with the right type of intervention).
Praising or affirming children for things they cannot legitimately claim credit (e.g., their looks, their intelligence, their innate talents, etc.) is the way we most often foster an unhealthy narcissism in them (because the aforementioned characteristics are nature-conferred as opposed to self-developed), an unfortunate circumstance only compounded by the fact that we rarely recognize and reinforce our children for what they can rightfully claim credit: the responsible exercise of their will. Recognizing and reinforcing these things helps engender healthy self-respect.