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Are Narcissists Really Everywhere?
People often say, "How can narcissists only be less than 10% of the population? I've met so many!" It's confusing and can lead people to doubt what they are dealing with. It's important to remember that this number is referring only to people who have been formally diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. That number is low anyway, because there are certainly many people with NPD walking around who have never been diagnosed. It isn't all that common for people who have NPD to seek help. Those that do are relied upon to self-report and may receive the wrong diagnosis. Also, it's important to remember that there are many people who are negatively affected by narcissism to varying degrees but they may not fit the criteria for NPD. This does not mean they are not extremely narcissistic. The amount of people who were diagnosed with a personality disorder is very different than the number of people who are toxically narcissistic.
If you read up on the subject now, studies suggest that people are more narcissistic than they were 30 years ago. This is likely due to a cultural shift in general. The family unit is different, people's goals are different, cultural and societal mores are different... there are many reasons for this. Our society as a whole is geared more toward the self, toward instant gratification and other things that can encourage narcissism. This can create a sort of "community narcissism," where certain narcissistic behaviors may become normalized and if that happens, even a person who is not a narcissist will engage in these behaviors because it's accepted or even expected.
It should also be said that when you first discover what a narcissist is, you can go through a period where you realize this behavior has been a constant in your life. This can create the perception that narcissists really are everywhere. You may have had dealings with many narcissists because of your own issues with boundaries and things like that, but don't worry. Everyone is not a narcissist. It just seems that way, kind of like when you buy a red car, you start seeing red cars everywhere. It's because you're noticing it more now. There are still plenty of non-pathologically narcissistic people out there.
Though it can seem like there are so many narcissistic people in the world, there are just as many as there were before you knew what narcissism was. Don't let your understanding of this type of person sour you on people in general. There are still many decent, compassionate people out there. It's just a question of creating a life where you are comfortable and healthy enough to see them. When you practice good self-care, own your mistakes and accept yourself for who you are, you are taking control of your life. You are living more intentionally and acting upon the world, rather than waiting for it to act upon you. There's no better way to bring good things into your life.