The great debate in recovery is where do self-love and self-care end and narcissism begin? It is interesting because I feel like this conversation probably does not permeate into the larger part of society, but within the rooms of recovery, there is a constant reflection of whether something is narcissistic or whether it is simply just caring for and loving oneself.
To start, I want to say as a disclaimer, that many times people in recovery do not have an accurate basis for what self-esteem is. This is not a slight against people in recovery, but rather it is the truth. I’m not sure if this is a by-product of addiction, or whether the lack of self-esteem in part helps foster addiction, but by in large, an addict’s ability to accurately judge themselves is greatly wanting.
This much is true in addiction, but in recovery as well an addict’s ability to discern whether something is self-love or selfish is many times skewed. They will, for the first time in possibly their life, begin to develop a true sense of self, apart from their addiction, but what to do with this new identity can sometimes be confusing. They may become wrapped up in the notion that they have to give of themselves at every moment of the day and that any form of pride in achievement is narcissism at its fullest. But this is not always the case and while the difference between self-love and narcissism may sometimes feel razor thin, it is not.
What is Narcissism?
Like many other terms in recovery, the definition for the term narcissism that addict’s use is different than its actual meaning. This is similar to the term ego, which in Freudian Psychology is simply the part of the personality that deals with reality, but in recovery it is this nasty pervasive part of the addict that must be rid of.
Regardless, the term narcissism, or narcissistic, is actually a personality disorder that is regarded to be a mental disorder. A person who suffers from this sort of disorder will have an inflated sense of self-importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. So it is far to say that unless you actually have a narcissistic personality disorder, you are not actually being narcissistic.
But within the scope of recovery, narcissism simply means a person who is full of themselves. It would be a person who spends way too much time at the gym, not simply because they want to be fit, but because they are so caught up in imagine that they must constantly improve their muscles and physique. They also probably spend way too much time in front of the mirror and spend too much time thinking about their outfits, but beyond the physical, they also do not think of others, and never attempt to help anyone besides themselves.
What is Self-Love?
This term should really be simple to define, but once again because of the way that addiction affects people, sometimes an addict’s ability to figure out when and how to take care of themselves is off. Basically, self-love is simply the act of taking care of yourself. It means getting the sleep you need in order to function, eating right, not participating in unhealthy relationships, and doing what you need to do in order to be happy and healthy.
There is nothing wrong with self-love, in fact, it is something that we should strive to do better, but sometimes self-love can make a person feel guilty because it may mean that they have to forgo certain relationships or responsibilities so that they can better take care of themselves.
How to Tell the Difference Between Self-Love and Narcissism
While there may not be any 100% fool proof method to tell the difference between the two, a good starting point is asking yourself, is what you are about to do going to hurt anyone else? For instance, if you decide that you need to take care of yourself by neglecting to do something that you were supposed to do, is the reason you are doing this extremely selfish and childish? Is it simply a matter of you not wanting to do it, or is it a matter that you really need to take the time for yourself?
Telling the difference between these two things is not always easy, and regardless, many of us will still feel guilty about taking care of ourselves over doing something for someone else, but sometimes it truly is necessary.
Going along these same lines, you have to notice if this is a pattern of yours. Are you constantly putting others on the backburner so that you can do what you want because if this is the case then you may not be acting out of self-love but rather out of selfishness.
On the more physical plane, I don’t really want to add much besides, if you are really caught up in the way that you look and you post 100 selfies a day in order to get admiration and a feeling of being accepted, then you may want to take a look at that, but beyond that, there is nothing wrong with feeling good about the way you look, and wanting to be the best version of yourself.
So if you are currently struggling with where does self-love end and narcissism begin, understand that asking that question means you are probably on the right path. Don’t be so hard on yourself and be sure to always remember to take care of yourself.
Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism or Addiction
Getting clean and sober from drugs and alcohol is the most important thing that an addict or alcoholic can do in their life. It is also the most anxiety producing and frightening thing that they can do in their life, but it doesn’t need to be. With help from the professionals at Elevations Health, you can find a new life in sobriety with the least amount of resistance possible. So call us today at 1-866-200-3224 and begin your journey to recovery the right way, with Elevations Health.