Self-promotion vs. preservation

Coming from a narcissistic family, I was raised to tout my personal capabilities, successes and strengths. Somewhere along the journey, I must have done something right because I am blessed with a group of friends who move gracefully through life with humility. Having the opportunity to observe my loved ones allow others to shine, promote the successes of their friends and family before their own, and blend into the darker corners, has proven to be a gift. It is my goal everyday to be humble.

An acquaintance, who will call Melina, historically was humble. She adored the success of others, she recognized those that had supported her, she put another's limelight before her own. Not only was she capable and able to succeed at everything she put her mind to, she did so without ever searching for recognition. And then she met a man, Manny, who spent the majority of his time sharing with others how extraordinary he was. He told strangers of how they needed his help, advised through conversation with him of what others should change, and essentially spent his days stating his talents, skills, achievements, and needs.

After Melina married Manny those around her started to notice significant changes with the way she presented herself. Her discussions became about her. Her interactions became condescending and patronizing. She rarely made mention of her own shortcomings and instead focused on the shortcomings of others. She began to share extensively how extraordinary she was, she even on several occasions mentioned she had achieved enlightenment.

I am of the opinion that there are certain risks associated with not promoting ourselves, not the least of which being we may not move forward professionally or personally. However we must find a healthy way to rest on the fine line between informing others of how great we are and never doing so. I try to remember in my own personal experience and try to teach my clients that we must promote only enough to preserve. When elaborating on our abilities is necessary to survive and grow, we must engage in promotion. As soon as it has served its purpose we must not promote further.

Recently I have thought of Melina often, I understand from my clinical training that elaborate self-promotion is only an attempt at covering up insecurities. Although I am grateful to her for reminding me of who I could easily become because of my upbringing, it saddens me greatly to remember the sophisticated and soft-spoken, non-judgmental and loving woman I used to know. Next time, you or I want to share how amazing we are, I hope we will stop and consider whether it is in an effort to preserve or promote.