Relationships & Self-Image

One of the most common sources for hurt in relationships is the attitude of self-centeredness. Nothing destroys a relationship quicker. In the extreme it is called narcissism. To love your self is normal, but for some people this is carried to unhealthy lengths.

The term narcissism comes from Greek mythology. According to legend, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pond. He didn’t fall in love with himself, but with his image.

Herein is the nature of the problem – a narcissistic person loves an exalted image of themselves. Healthy self-love is based on a realistic image of self, which calls for growth and improvement. Narcissism is based on an unrealistic, exalted image; an image that must be maintained at all cost. Thus, the narcissist is not selfish; rather, self is paralyzed.

In a relationship the narcissist person uses other people to help maintain his or her exalted false image. They are never wrong and rarely make mistakes. They are often abusive, verbally and physically. The authority for all that they believe and do is based on their own exalted self-image. For them, instead of “there is no ‘I’ in team,” it is, “there is no team in ‘I’.”

The call to live the Christian life is the exact opposite. To follow Christ means the denial of self, not the exalting of self. That is hard to do if you believe there is nothing bigger nor better than you.

Our best hope for happy and fulfilling relationships is found in walking with Christ. It is in the faith relationship that we gain a truly healthy self-image, and with a healthy self-image, we can grow with others.

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