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ISSUE 160 ISSN 1712-468

What is the first business of one who practices philosophy? To get rid of self-centeredness (conceit). For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows.

Epictetus, The Discourses
Roman Slave and Stoic Philosopher
(55 AD – 135 AD)

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This Week's Inspiration

Are You Self-Centered or Narcissistic?


Independent of outside force or influence; concerned solely with one's own desires, needs, or interests


A doctrine that individual self-interest is the actual motive of all conscious action; that individual self-interest is the valid end of all actions; love for one's own body and appeal

Before everyone gets defensive and denies they are self-centered or narcissistic, I offer a couple of stories and then a few questions for you. 

Recently, I attended an event that had about 12 participants. We were together for several hours, with lots of time to connect and communicate. For me, one conversation was particularly interesting. I spoke with a gentleman for about 2 hours and noted that he did not ask me a single question about my background or how things were going for me. While I was not personally offended, I was appalled to discover he is a local university professor who teaches communications skills! How can he be so oblivious?

Quite frankly, our natural tendency is to be self-centered and talk about ourselves—some more than others, depending on our Personal Style.

Focusing on others takes discipline and intentionality. Think about your conversations over the past week. Did you dominate the discussion and talk about yourself, or did you ask questions of the person you were engaging?

Narcissism is a close friend of self-centeredness, though some professionals link it to overzealous self-esteem.

Regardless, according to several university-based psychologists, a significant percentage of our current generation—although wanted and loved by their parents—are absorbed by their own importance. They expect others to immediately fulfill their every wish and demand. The advent of social media has provided a platform for ranting about self-importance; for that generation, that value is becoming an accepted societal norm.

A recent survey established that 1 in 10 university students has the clinical condition called "Narcissistic Personality Disorder," while only 3% of the over-65 age group has it. Unfortunately, people with the most extreme cases of narcissism usually won''t go for treatment. If they do agree to it, they are typically very difficult to treat. They have such inflated thoughts about themselves that they don't believe a trained, experienced professional has anything to offer.

To a point, narcissism can help a person be more successful and happy. In more extreme cases, narcissism causes serious problems in relationships and careers.

What about you? Do you have a healthy view of yourself or do you have self-centered or narcissistic tendencies? Significant research shows narcissistic parents and childhood dynamics contribute to the condition, but that should not be used as an excuse it's only an explanation.

Take the survey in the Action Steps below to determine how healthy or unhealthy your thinking and responses are to life's events.

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This Week's Action Steps

Are You Self-Centered or Narcissistic?!

Do you have a healthy or an unhealthy view of life?

For your review, here is a list reported in the New York Times on self-centeredness and/or narcissistic characteristics. Be honest with your responses.

In each item, simply select 1 of the 2 choices, HEALTHY or UNHEALTHY, that describes you best. If you are on the midline, where both HEALTHY and UNHEALTHY apply, split the points—give half a point to each choice. You can also use this list to evaluate others with whom you interact, to frame their tendencies.


Appreciates praise, but does not live for it.

UNHEALTHY: Has an insatiable craving for adulation; needs praise to feel momentarily good about self.

May be hurt by criticism, but the feeling passes.


Is enraged or crushed by criticism and broods for long periods about it.


Feels unhappy but not worthless after a failure.


Failure sets off feelings of shame and worthlessness.


Feels "special" or especially talented, to a degree.


Feels far superior to everyone else and demands recognition for that superiority.


Feels good about himself, even if others criticize.


Requires continual bolstering from others to have a sense of well-being.


Feels disappointed but still confident in his abilities and good about himself, even if others are selected before or over him.


Becomes enraged and/or attacks others when he loses or doesn't get what he wants.


Takes life's setbacks in stride, although he may be put off balance for a time.


Reacts to the hurts and injuries of life with depression or rage.


Self-esteem is steady in the face of rejection, disapproval, or attacks.


Reacts to rejection, disapproval, or attacks with sharp rage or deep depression.


Does not feel hurt if no special treatment is received.


Feels entitled to special treatment and feels ordinary rules do not apply.


Is sensitive to the feelings of others.


Is exploitative and insensitive to what others need or feel.

* Please note: This short survey is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be diagnostic in nature

That said, your answers do reveal trends in your life.

Your Responses

  • If you selected 9 or 10 HEALTHY responses, for the most part you are pretty well adjusted. Keep focusing on your healthy choices and behaviors.
  • If you selected 7 or 8 HEALTHY responses, you still have a balanced perspective with some tendencies toward self-centered behavior. Note where you can improve, then take proactive action.
  • If you selected 5 or 6 HEALTHY responses, you have some areas where you could improve. I suggest you make a plan that includes addressing those areas of opportunity for development.
  • If you selected 4 or fewer HEALTHY responses, that means you had 6 or more UNHEALTHY responses. When you make a decision to take action to address what is unhealthy in your life, there will be significant benefits to you and the individuals around you.

It's time to assess the way your reactions and feelings in your life are affecting you and others. I encourage you to reach out to friends and/or professionals to guide you to healthier choices and mindset.

I applaud you for being honest and vulnerable in your responses.
Now, let your honesty motivate you to take action!

  • To assist you on your journey to healthier choices and relationships, clarify your values and style through CRG's Values Preference Indicator (VPI) and the Personal Style Indicator.
  • To help you understand your tendencies and become equipped to help people apply their strengths and realize their potential, read Why Aren't You More Like Me?
  • Do it now! Choose to develop yourself so you can reduce your tendencies to be self-centered. Create a new level of engagement where you are grounded. Making healthy choices will improve your life and the lives of all the people around you.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose.

Ken Keis
For information on CRG Resources, please visit http://crgleader.com.

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