Summary: How consumerism is incompatible with genuine self-esteem.
In the past, I've described how consumerism leads to us feeling empty and inadequate. I also made the case that consumerism for women and children ends with material things, while men are consuming women, with material things being one of many means to meeting that end.
In other words, we need more/better/newer material things than others as well as more/better/newer women than others in order to feel significant and worthy of love.
While residing in the Consumerism Paradigm, we are obsessed with having a greater identity than others. We want more/better looks, money, charisma and women than others in order to “feel good about ourselves.”
This is actually incorrect. When we (as consumers) “succeed” in life, we don’t feel better about ourselves, we feel better about our identities relative to others.
We care primarily about what others have, do, or think. This is why we constantly compare ourselves to others. We are obsessed with our imagined identities—not ourselves.
“You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis.” –Tyler Durden
I’d like to add that you’re not the plates your spinning, or lack thereof.
Many of us confuse ourselves with our imagined identities because we so strongly identify with how we’re perceived relative to others.
Almost every rational decision we make is aimed at upgrading our identities in some way. When we’re very “successful” at this, we become narcissistic.
Narcissism necessarily follows from needing to have a significantly greater identity than others and having that need fulfilled.
Narcissism is not self-love or self-obsession, if you had those, you would be more likely to have genuinely high self-esteem. Genuinely high self-esteem is when you love yourself—regardless of how othersmay perceive you. Narcissism is the love of your identity in comparison to others and as perceived by others.
The narcissist is the best case consumer. He is born out of playing the consumption game and winning. What happens when he loses?
When we lose the consumption game, narcissism fades to insecurity.
Insecurity is nothing more than a would-be narcissist feeling inferior as opposed to feeling superior.
This is why narcissists can’t accept criticism. When their identities are even threatened, they fall into insecurity.
Insecurity and narcissism exist on the same spectrum. If you live in the Consumerism Paradigm, this spectrum is your world.
Women are attracted to narcissists. It’s not that narcissism is inherently attractive, but narcissists are attractive to women because they display confidence and tend to be good looking and/or wealthy (it’s hard to imagine yourself as better than others who look significantly better than you and have plenty more wealth than you).
Many of us don’t make this distinction. We glorify narcissism because we think it’s attractive to women in its own right. In fact, we glorify everything women find attractive as if attractiveness to women is a barometer of our virtue, but that’s a different subject.
The truth is this … none of us want to be friends with a narcissist. None of us want to be raised by narcissistic parents. None of us want to be in a relationship with a narcissist. Narcissism in others is baggage we sometimes put up with in order to be around “high-value” people.
When we’re plugged into the Consumerism Paradigm, narcissism is the end game; we’ve won. As long as we can stay better than others, we can remain narcissists. As long as we can remain narcissists, we can stay confident.
Being a consumer and confusing our external “identities” with our actual selves is problematic because our self-worth becomes something we can’t completely control. Our significance and worthiness is now highly dependent on external forces. In the narcissist’s case, he’s dependent on others being worse than him.
For example, when a narcissist finds out he has received a raise, he feels pleased. His identity has been enhanced. However, later that day when he finds out his co-worker received a significantly larger raise, he becomes indignant. His former enhancement turns into a downgrade and his narcissism fades to insecurity.
“Joe got a bigger raise than me? I know that mother fucker thinks he’s better than me now.”
He will stew on this for quite some time. Eventually he concocts his own revenge fantasy against Joe.
“That smug son of a bitch. It doesn’t even matter, in a few years I’m going to be making way more than him—besides, his girlfriend looks like Rosie O’Donnell on a good day.”
We’ve already seen that people on the narcissism-insecurity spectrum identify with the external image of themselves.
People on self-esteem spectrum, by contrast, identify with their internal self, that is, the values they’ve chosen and how well they defend as well as live in accordance to them.
We can see that by definition, these two cannot co-exist. If you’re identifying with your external image, you’re not identifying with your internal self, and vice-versa.
Narcissism and self-esteem cannot co-exist.
I’ve already made the case that when we stop chasing status, we begin to live by our values. I also believe that when we can do this, we begin developing our self-esteem.
Self-esteem allows us to be confident, like narcissism, except we will be likable and less prone to insecurity.
Visit my blog On Consumerism to read more.
Narcissism and insecurity exist on the same spectrum.
Narcissism is not inherently attractive.
Self-esteem gives one the benefit of having confidence, without the baggage which comes with narcissism.
Develop self-esteem by opting out of consumerism and daring to live for yourself, as opposed to your made up identity.