While we are not all narcissists most of us at times have can become self-important, resistant to admitting flaws, and getting caught up in changing others to feel better. Often many of us at times will exaggerate or lie to ourselves and others about circumstances to manipulate people’s thoughts and outcomes of the circumstances. Time and time again I will hear about behaviors of teens looking like some of these narcissistic behaviors when trying to figure out what is going on with a depressed, anxious, or struggling teen.
Treating mental health struggles, especially depression, is a process of changing attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, and brain chemistry. In order to truly overcome depression certain unhealthy habits and attitudes often get in the way of being able completely recover. Some of the obvious obstacles are using drugs or alcohol, staying in an unhealthy relationship, grieving someone or something. These subjects get a lot of time and energy in the therapy rooms. One of the obstacles that tends to be “an elephant in the room” is narcissistic behaviors and tendencies. As narcissistic and selfish behavior increase in a teen’s world depression often increases as well. Unfortunately right now we live in a world where teens are being encouraged to strive to be famous, better than, and get as many personal “likes” as you can.
It is never too late to create a culture of selflessness in your home. Your teen may be slow to join, but healthy behaviors are just as infectious as toxic behaviors. One of the greatest tools a teen can have to combating depression is acts of selflessness and breaking the habit of selfishness. Parents unintentionally feed this tendency towards narcissistic behaviors in many ways including in trying to make the home perfectly equal and fair. Help your teen get in the habit of serving the community and helping other individuals. Create volunteering opportunities even if it means not playing the 5th sport for the year that makes it impossible for anyone in the family to have a life. Ironically individuals who can get outside of themselves and focus on helping others is more likely to overcome their depression. It is not the cure or the end all be all, but it is a piece of recovery that we all have control over.