The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a homemaker in my 30s. I feel sick about my husband, whose self-esteem is unusually high.
He passed a vocational exam that is described as one of the most difficult and got the type of job that he had wished for. He is good at sports, cooking and playing music. He is probably confident of doing well in whatever he does. His relatives tell me that I’m a lucky woman who has an ideal husband like him.
Whenever my husband is praised by someone for something, he is elated to let me know about it. He never stops bragging about the same thing while being pleased with himself.
He is sociable enough to have quite a few friends. At the same time, however, he is not interested in others because he is narcissistic and cares about himself most. It is probably why he is always simply telling me he is highly evaluated by people.
In my opinion, there is always someone better than you in any field. I’ve often told my husband that he should widen his vision to learn many things from other people. But he won’t listen to me.
I’m also concerned his attitude could have a negative impact on our very young daughter. What should I do to change him, at least a little bit?
Dear Ms. C:
I understand you’ve had enough of your husband always bragging about himself, even though he is a family member of yours. On the other hand, I think his behavior may not be serious enough to be considered as definitely unacceptable, because he does nothing wrong and doesn’t trouble others.
I doubt his attitude could have an adverse influence on your daughter. If you are still concerned, you should just say to him as a caution, “You’ve started [bragging] again,” every time it happens. If I were you, I wouldn’t respond to him, while saying in my mind: “Be pleased with yourself as you want. I don’t care.”
I have a small concern, however. It’s a problem if he behaves in a similar way outside the home. Generally speaking, someone’s bragging is the least interesting thing to listen to. In the worst scenario, he may end up facing people’s contempt.
Here, let me tell you a famous quote by ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu: “A conceited person cannot last for a long time.” This quote means that someone who boasts of himself will fail.
I’ve been impressed with the quote because it indicates this type of person has existed since ancient times. Lao-tzu means that being modest is the wisest demeanor. This precept is part of the traditional oriental wisdom for success and happiness in life. It can still be of use today at home and outside. I do want your husband to appreciate it.
Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist