Distinguishing healthy self-love from narcissism.


Part of my journey to recovery from the toxic narcissists in my life was to gain a deeper understanding of their personalities and how they operate. As I worked through my healing journey, I began to notice striking similarities emerging within myself - traits that resembled the very narcissistic behaviours I had fought so hard to escape.

This raised an important question: Could it be that we all possess some level of narcissistic tendencies, or does the key lie in distinguishing between healthy self-love and its toxic counterpart?

The journey of recovery opened my eyes to understanding the low depths narcissists will sink to. It also made me realise there is a line between asserting boundaries and being consumed by self-absorption.

It's too easy to label traits as "narcissistic”. The challenge was discerning which behaviours supported healthy self-developmental growth versus unhealthy self-focus.

The Toxic Path

Craving External Validation- The toxic narcissist craves praise and adoration, using it to fill the hole within themselves as they rely solely on external validation to feel a sense of worth and wholeness within.

Cutting Off Relationships- The toxic narcissist cuts off relationships when others don't bend to their wants and needs, they are unable to see beyond their own desires, and lack flexibility.

Superiority Complex- The toxic narcissist is consumed by an inflated sense of self-worth, valuing themselves above all others to the detriment of those they deem to be beneath them.

The Healthy Path

Appreciating Praise, but Not Dependent -While praise and positive feedback can bolster us and provide much-needed motivation, we don't solely rely on it for our sense of worth.

Boundaries and Self-Preservation- Part of the healing journey involves dissolving relationships that don't serve our well-being and growth, recognising that prioritising our own needs before others is paramount to our well-being, survival and health.

Self-Love and Balance- Instead of superiority, we learn to love and value ourselves highly while still maintaining balance and respect for others even if they are no longer in our lives.


Recovering from narcissistic abuse requires us to develop healthy self-love and boundaries, without any of the toxic behaviours. While narcissists need constant praise and cut off anyone who challenges or highlights their cruel behaviour, true healing requires us to value positive feedback but not depend on it entirely. It means ending harmful relationships, yet still maintaining respect for others, even if we no longer have a relationship and it is from a healthy distance.

The journey to recovery is based on developing high self-worth balanced with humility - neither diminishing our needs nor inflating our egos. Self-acceptance, empathy and humility allow us to create genuine and deserved wholeness.

Thank you for reading today. I hope my writing serves to help, support, and uplift, you the reader. 

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