Personal change is not possible without the following four elements.
And yes, all four elements.
Number one, self-awareness, introspection, getting to know yourself, the good and the bad, the negative and the positive, the advantages and the shortcomings, everything.
Honestly, unflinchingly, without any pretension, without any faking, without self-deception.
Self-awareness, condition number one.
Condition number two, empathy.
Without empathy, there's no personal change.
I know that sounds strange.
Empathy is about other people, isn't it?
No, it's not.
It's about you.
Empathy is the precondition for fitting into society.
And society determines 80% of your personality.
And according to some schools in psychology, 100%.
You are a relational being.
Human beings are relational. They are defined by their relationships.
Empathy plays a crucial role in being able to maintain interactions with other people.
Number three, motivation to change.
If you lack empathy, why would you change?
What you do to other people, you hurt them, you help them. Whatever your interactions with other people are, they motivate you to change.
You see, it's a chain, and there are links in the chain.
Without empathy, there's no motivation. Without motivation, there's no change.
Now, you can't be motivated to change yourself, regardless of other people.
That's healthy, that's commendable and recommended.
But the truth is, the vast majority of personal changes and transformations are owing, or due to, the environment.
Human environment, physical environment, social environment, and cultural environment. They signal to us the ways in which we should mold and sculpt ourselves. The ways in which we should essentially shape shift.
Motivation is crucial.
If you don't care about other people, why would you change?
That's precisely at the core of the narcissist's inability to learn and to change.
He doesn't care, and he doesn't care because he doesn't have empathy.
Of course, when I say he, it applies to women as well.
They don't have empathy, and so they don't have any motivation to change.
Additionally, when you lack self-awareness and you lack empathy, you're unable to discern any need for change.
You're perfect, you're sublime, you're immutable, you're divine.
Why would you change? Any change would be for the worse.
Now, narcissists are self-aware. They are aware of their actions and the consequences of their actions and the impacts of their actions have on others.
And yet, they don't see anything wrong with it because they lack empathy and consequently lack motivation to change.
The last and very important condition is emotions.
You need to feel things about yourself, about other people. You need to have access to negative emotions, such as envy and anger.
Envy and anger induce change, but you also need to have access to positive emotions, such as love.
There's no greater force for change than love.
Again, in the case of the narcissist and the psychopath, there's no access to emotions or at least in the case of a narcissist, no access to positive emotions.
And so, there's no force for change. There's no driving. There's no drive. There's no urge to change.
Emotions are forms of cognitions. They're forms of thinking.
But emotions are directional.
We love someone. We hate someone. We envy someone.
Emotions are the glue that holds all of us together. They are the scaffolding upon which human relationships unfurl.
They are at the core of everything interpersonal and relational.
If you don't have emotions, why would you change?
Because if you don't have emotions, you don't have emotions as far as others are concerned, and you don't have emotions as far as you are concerned.
Narcissists not only lack love, they lack self-love, and so do psychopaths.
That's why narcissists and psychopaths take inordinate risks. That's why they are self-destructive. That's why they are reckless.
Because they don't care about themselves. They don't love themselves. They don't have empathy for themselves as well.
And this is the picture.
If you don't have self-awareness, then you don't realize that you need to change. If you don't have empathy, you're not motivated to change in order to benefit your loved ones, your nearest and dearest. If you don't have access to your emotions, you feel nothing about yourself as well.
And then there's no motivation.
And of course in the absence of motivation, there's no action. And without action, there's no dynamic. And dynamic is just another name for change.
The word narcissism, the clinical entity, the mental health disorder, has been debased and corrupted.
And now everyone in his dog is either an expert on narcissism or a narcissist.
So we are afraid to love ourselves because we are afraid to be labeled as narcissists.
Self-love, narcissism, what's the difference?
Well, there's a huge difference.
Narcissism happens to be the opposite of self-love.
But we're not going to it.
Let us define self-love and maybe try to find it.
Self-love is a healthy self-regard in the pursuit of one's happiness and favorable outcomes.
And self-love rests on four pillars.
Pillar number one, self-awareness, an intimate, detailed and compassionate knowledge of oneself, a SWOT analysis, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Roles, introspection, becoming your own most intimate person.
Self-awareness is not the same as self-infatuation or self-limance or entitlement. It is not the same as narcissism.
Number two, self-acceptance, the unconditional embrace of one's core identity, personality, character, temperament, relationships, experiences, memories and life circumstances. Embracing everything, mistakes included.
Self-acceptance, the good and the bad, the positive and the negative, the advantages and the shortcomings, the frailties and the strengths, everything is a unity accepted.
Number three, self-trust, the conviction that one has one's best interests in mind, that one is watching one's back, that one has agency and autonomy, that one is not controlled by or dependent upon other people in a compromising fashion.
In short, the belief that one is one's best friend, that you are your best friend.
The last pillar is self-efficacy, the belief gleaned from and honed by experience, that one is capable of setting rational, realistic and self-beneficial goals and possesses the will to realize outcomes commensurate with one's aims. The belief that one can extract favorable outcomes and results from one's ever-changing environment, that one can collaborate with other people in a way that will benefit everyone involved.
Self-efficacy, the road to bettering oneself, progress, change, self-growth and self-improvement.
Self-love is the only reliable compass in life.
Experience usually comes too late when its lessons can no longer be implemented because of old age or lost opportunities, change circumstances. Experience is a nice thing in hindsight. It's a rear-view mirror. Experience is also pretty useless.
Not two people, not two situations are the same.
But self-love is a rock, stable, reliable, immovable, immutable, a guide, the truest of loyal friends, whose only concern is your welfare and contentment and possibly happiness.
Love yourself by loving others and love yourself to the exclusion of toxic people. This is all the art of self-love, knowing who to introduce into your life and who to exclude from based on knowing yourself, accepting yourself, trusting yourself and your judgment and acting efficaciously in your environment so that you're always growing, always evolving, ever happier.