Brihadarnayaka Upanishad says, “Atmanastu Kamaya Sarvam Priyam Bhavati”(It is only due to the love for one’s self that everything else becomes dear). This is once such wonderful observation by the Rishi Yagnavalkya about Mind Psychology. Everyone loves anything not for the sake of that thing, but for his own gratification.
Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 verse 55 uses the word “Atmaenvatmana Tustah” which is when the lower self is contented with Higher self. He says that can happen when one drops all desires (Prajahati Yada Kaman).
When as a seeker I look at the verse from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad as well as Bhagavad Gita it might look contrary but there are important differences if observed with more contemplation.
Rishi Yagnavalkya was mentioning the desire that is from the root of narcissist approach while Sri Krishna was pointing out at the Self-Actualisation. A narcissist has extreme selfishness and is very calculative with a grandiose view of himself and a craving for praise and admiration from others. While a person who is self-actualized has spontaneity with self-acceptance and has resistance to approbation.
Self-actualization is the pinnacle of personality escalation while a narcissist is the victim of personality disorder. Self growth with inward exploration is the aim of a self-actualized person and the tool he uses to practice this is Self-Confidence. On the contrary, a narcissist is an outwardly person who is on the wrong track and his Self-Centered attitude hurts not him but all those involved with him. Amazingly these traits are not mutually exclusive we can observe a few hovering between self-actualization and narcissism. Self-actualized person and a narcissist can be described as autonomous, self-accepting, lacking inhibitions, charismatic, unconventional, and nonconforming.
The key difference is that in the growth of a self-actualized person there is transcending of ego and an effort to realise the purpose of their existence. This enables him to think that we all are from the same source and act accordingly to make the world a better place to live. A narcissist rather than subduing the ego tries to puff it up. He develops an obsessive focus on self which projects him as elite and hence it becomes very difficult to involve himself in community activities. Both narcissists and self-actualized people are charismatic because they are independent and full of energy. The difference though is that a narcissist is manipulative and wants to act only for his personal gain. A Self-actualized individual plans a scheme so that it can benefit all those who are with him.
In short we can summarise the traits of a Self-actualised person who cannot and should not be confused to be a narcissist. They are
1. Self-directed, but never Selfish.
2. Self-accepting, but never Arrogant.
3. Self-confident, but never Egotistic.
4. Childlike, but never Immature.
5. Charismatic, but never calculative.
6. Indifferent, but never cold and aloof.