Self-worth, appreciation, ego and narcissism

In this article, I will investigate self-worth, appreciation, and ego in relation to narcissists and victims of narcissists. I will also provide some tips, that helped me, on how to work on self-worth. The most important reason why I want to write about self-worth is that I think it’s great to see when someone has positive energy, feels like he or she is enough, and is able to accept themselves.

My view is to shift attention from the narcissist to yourself and this article fits in the phase of working on self-worth and your energy. It’s time to focus more on yourself and your energy! It’s a great step if you feel like you are ready to work on yourself.

When dealing with narcissists working on yourself can be very hard or might feel impossible. When you are regularly around or under the influence of a narcissist your energy will be drained and your self-worth could be negatively affected. This is because a narcissist lives from the energy of their environment.

They need supply from their environment in order to feel control, boost their ego, get attention and/or appreciation. Narcissists will do anything to create an image of perfect self-worth, whereas the people in their environment are negatively affected by their manipulative behaviour as narcissists don’t take others or their feelings into consideration.

I wrote an article about the web of control of a narcissist if you want to read more about their influence on the environment. Now I will go deeper into self-worth, expectations, appreciation, and ego.


Self-worth has a big influence on your energy, your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Self-worth or self-value is about how you sense your own value or worth as a person. Do you feel you are a good person that deserves to be treated with respect? Do you know deep inside you are of value?

When your self-worth is mostly positive, it gives you a nice highly vibrating energy that will naturally shine on everything and everyone in your environment. Energy attracts energy! You will feel connected with yourself, possibly spiritual, and give love and kindness to yourself and through that to others.

A narcissist pushes your self-worth in the wrong direction

A narcissist sadly pushes your energy and self-worth in the wrong direction! By manipulating they emphasize negative thoughts, create dependency, and create an environment in which you will have increasing self-doubts and less self-worth. I explained how this dynamic works in my article about gaslighting.

Some people are under the influence of a narcissist. These so-called flying monkeys might think they have increased self-worth because of the narcissist or have their ego boosted by compliments and flattering. The problem is that this bubble would burst if the narcissist decides to move on and stops ego-boosting or just stops being friendly.

You simply don’t want your self-worth to depend on a narcissist! You actually shouldn’t want it to depend on someone else at all. Self-worth needs to follow from internal sources. You might realize this already and it makes sense rationally, but think about if you also really feel this within.

Importance of pushing yourself back in the right direction

Self-worth has a large impact on your life and how you experience your life. You can hide a lot, but hiding your energy is difficult. People all have their own energy level (or vibration) and I think everyone experiences and feels this, whether it is conscious or unconscious. It could even be harmful if you can hide your feelings really well because it reduces the chance someone will notice and possibly help you.

I observe a lot and it’s hard to see people with ‘slower’ energy running into themselves. I would like to say: You exist! You are here and you are enough! More than that isn’t necessary! It’s not that easy however and there can be many reasons why.

When your healing from narcissistic abuse you will probably have slower (less vibrating) energy, so it would be great if you are able to push yourself back in the right direction! At the end of the article, I will give some tips about this.

Expectations for yourself and expectation for others

Interestingly people often have very different expectations for others than for themselves. Other people could for example be sweet, nice, and kind, but this might not apply to yourself. Where does this difference in expectations come from?

At a certain moment, I realized that I felt that I should not have any fears or make mistakes. With others, I didn’t mind this and felt empathy, but with myself I did mind. Strange right? I was blocking my development by negative thoughts, not being kind to myself, and having high expectations. When I realized the nonsense of this and when I felt this simple insight, a process of change in self-acceptance started! I started being more kind to myself.


Connected with self-esteem is getting appreciation from others. Getting appreciation is something that can feed self-worth. It can be lovely to receive appreciation but it’s also a risk! Appreciation is nice and it gives a nice feeling of confirmation. It is good to be able to enjoy this, but it is also good to be able to let it go again.

The other side of appreciation is thus the risk that you get attached to it and consequently getting appreciation could become a need. Then you will look for appreciation and depending on whether you get this appreciation you will feel good or bad.

Looking for appreciation becomes a problem when it’s a need. You actually give a piece of yourself to someone else whose appreciation you need. Needing appreciation means that the opinion of the other has become more important than your own opinion.

Self-worth as a sort of swing

If we look at self-worth, we can imagine three general situations:
– ‘Everyone has more value than me.’
– ‘I am worth as much as everyone else and everyone else is worth as much as I am.’
– ‘I have more value than the rest.’

This can be imagined as an old-fashioned swing, with ‘I’ on one seat and ‘others’ on the other seat. If there is mostly a balance between your value and the value of others both sides float alternately in the air and the swing works as it should. If there is no equality or balance, one of the seats is constantly on the ground, because much more weight is given to others or to yourself. The swing will not work!

Narcissism and ego

The situation ‘I have more value than the rest’ can be recognized in narcissistic behaviour. This side of the swing is exaggerated self-acceptance in the form of ego inflation. The world of thought of a narcissist seems to revolve entirely around the ego and everything is about a good outcome for the narcissist himself.

Guilt or mistakes seem to lie outside the narcissist self and nothing will be able to touch him or her. A narcissist, therefore, does not need to have any doubts or troubling thoughts. This could explain why a narcissist often sleeps like a baby and their partner might be lying awake worrying all night.

There are still a lot of questions to be asked whether a narcissist is overly confident or not confident at all. Is a narcissist completely dependent on the appreciation of others and the victim of their own thirst for validation? Is there ‘no or very low self-esteem’ hidden behind a wall or a fake persona with great self-confidence built by the ego? Does the narcissist gain self-esteem from the fact that others depend on him or her or is it just empty? It seems empty for sure.

Ego and self-esteem

Further analysis of ego and self-esteem suggests perhaps a narcissist sees and mistakes ego as self-worth. The ego is boosted because others depend on him or her and the ego becomes happy with appreciation, status, and beautiful things. This would be dependent and thus vulnerable.

The truth can be recognized in the energy of a narcissist. It feels disturbed, but the wall is powerful and there might be nothing behind the wall. If you recognize someone you love is a narcissist, can you do something about it? How do you deal with this? Can you get through this wall or does the attempt actually only hurt yourself?

My experience is that a narcissist is draining energy, which is the energy that I try to balance with Buddhism, meditation and mindfulness. For your energy going no contact and accepting someone is a narcissist seems the best option. It works best for me.

6 tips on how to work on your self-worth

I would like to give some tips that worked for me on how to work on your self-worth. Most tips are based on the philosophy of Buddhism and mindfulness.

1. Stop comparing

If you base self-worth upon external actions or reasons you will have a lot of challenges. Stop comparing to others. You can always find someone who is achieving more and is richer, smarter, or more confident. It’s not healthy to base your self-worth upon others.

It’s about your inherent worth as a person and not about what you do or achieve. What you do is not who you are. You are valuable for who you are.

2. Conditional or unconditional

Ask yourself whether your self-worth and love to yourself is conditional or unconditional? If it depends upon being above average it would be conditional. Does it depend on what others think about you or if they accept you? Does it depend on the love and compliments of your partner? If it does, then it’s conditional.

Your self-worth will follow from these outside reasons, which is unhealthy. It would be dependent on things outside you which you can’t even control. Know and feel your own love and respect is unconditional.

3. Stop the inner dialogue and live in the present

When you have or had a narcissist in your life, you can have increased self-doubts, feelings of shame, and negative thoughts and emotions. You might be disconnected from yourself and forget who you are. You could have negative thoughts about your own existence and feel like it’s too much.

If you think ‘I cannot live with myself’, think about what this thought is. It means there is an ‘I’ and a ‘self’ which seem not to be able to live with each other. Which one of them is real?

Suffering exists from identification with your unhappy and fearful self. But can you actually do something else than just being? Your true nature is the ever-present I am. It’s just consciousness. You have this true state, which means the truth is within you. You might just not feel it because of all the noise your mind makes.

A vicious circle could be build up between your thinking and certain emotions. They will feed each other. A negative thought pattern would result in a low vibrating emotion, and this vibrational frequency then feeds the negative thought pattern. It can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Eckhart Tolle says ‘love, joy, and peace are deep states of being and cannot flourish until you have freed yourself from mind dominance’. The present moment is all you ever have.

4. Count your blessings

What you focus on in life will emphasize and what you don’t will decay eventually. Unhappiness and happiness are dependent on each other, which means they are one. This is because they can’t exist without the other and you will always go through both happiness and unhappiness.

You don’t have to ignore suffering, but you can try to count your blessings as well. You can do this for example by thinking of what you are proud of that day or what you have learned. It could even be a small positive intention you have for the future. Start asking yourself positive questions and you will get positive answers!

5. Self-compassion

Observe the tone you use with yourself. You can challenge what your inner voice says and how it is said. Try to commit to being more positive or at least respectful when talking to yourself. You deserve your own compassion and kindness. You can take responsibility for what happens to you, but you do not need to be judgmental about it to yourself.

You could, for example, do the following in meditation or during mindful breathing:
– Acknowledge and pay attention to your suffering.
– Respond to your suffering with kindness and care.

6. Set principles and values and act on them

Think about what are important values to you, such as kindness, compassion, empathy, respect for others, and how you treat others. Set principles such as honesty or clarity and set boundaries to be able to live this way.

You don’t need to please other people. Your value and principles come from inside, from an internal measure you have set for yourself.

You are worth it

I hope these tips are helpful to you and thank you for reading them!

Working on self-worth is about flipping the process of having slower energy to more vibrating energy. Don’t put pressure on yourself when working on this. Take your time and focus on small steps. Any small step in the right direction will help and eventually, all the small steps will have a large impact.

Trust the process of healing and working on self-worth. It’s hard work but it’s worth all the effort because you are worth it! Hopefully, you agree with me on that 🙂

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