There’s a lot of talk floating around concerning Narcissism these days. A grand finger pointing and labeling of our world’s abusers and perpetrators.
Narcissism is extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration.
Childhood adversity in all of its forms is the foundation from which my life was established. Life in our home revolved around my father and is angry outbursts. He wore his brand of Narcissism proudly. The world revolved around him, and his wants, and we all fell in line to make it happen as seamlessly as possible… or the mirror flipped and the world had turned against him and we were to blame.
And then my pop-eyed moment came with the realization that just like everything else there were two sides to this game of Narcissism.
First, there have to be players. Relationship, just like ice skaters, is a dance. The two move in sync, otherwise there is complete chaos.
Love is unconditional, but relationship has conditions. We buy in. So for a narcissist to live in a tribe with people… in varying degrees the rest of the tribe is playing the game with him. Right?
Victimhood is just as narcissistic. It’s just that we focus our energies on I, Me, our lack and pain, and the injustice of our circumstance.
We cause the people around us to suffer. Victimhood and our choice to suffer alienates us from the world. Our need to be seen rages. Our need for the world to know and understand all of our pain and suffering, and to be able to name the cause is our purpose for each breath. Or we sit and mourn thinking life unfair. We are worth more than this… or not. We are caught up in our physical bodies. Illness and its labels rule our lives and the lives of others. The I… Me… I of our pain and suffering rages just as strongly and most often burns more consistently than most of those on the puffed up, entitled side of the coin.
The traditions speak of moving out of ego. Stepping away from that I… Me… I part of ourselves and undertaking a worldview of unity.
Most today are playing one side of this coin or the other in some varying degree. These cycles have moved through century after century, picking up speed with each generation. So here we are today with a certain amount of Narcissism expected. Success rides on it. Step into the ring and show the world what you’ve got. That thought rarely stays at the office. It bleeds into our families. Someone has to choose to step into the backseat and play the one that facilitates his game. It grows on us gradually….
Unless that’s all we know.
Many of us don’t know any different. Our MO: Watch out for yourself. Make sure your needs are met and then maybe we can look out and throw a bone to those who are less fortunate.
We had to. It’s not defining us as a human. It is understanding that this is an old worn out program. It kept us alive at one time, but now it is drawing to you the exact thing that you don’t want.
When we allow our illness or our past or our current sufferings to take the front seat… When we allow ourselves to be mistreated… When we ruminate in our pain, we block out all that is good. We can’t see it. Our eye is focused on what is wrong and has no discernment around what is right. We are hyper vigilant. We are watching and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Placing blame every step of the way. We consistently find ourselves surrounded by the same treatment just with different faces attached. It follows us forward.
The Flip Side of Narcissism: Victimhood.
Many of us had to think of ourselves first… no one else was going to. But that was then and this is now.
We are received in this world how we show up.
When we show up out of our power, old doors open, such as sexual or physical trauma, emotional disrespect. Someone will be standing there ready to step in and play the opposing role.
We are like magnets pulling in our opposites. We attract someone who can dance with us in our native language.
So wow, to wake up one day to understand that suffering was just as narcissistic as the bluster!
The takeaway. This game is about you. And how you show up. Not about them or what they are doing and what they are saying. This game is about moving into a different way of communicating and interacting with the world.
As I dabbled in Buddhism, I became acquainted with the art of recapitulation. Recapitulation is a truth finder. That’s it right? We are so caught up in the story we can’t see what’s real… what is true. We approach the world… on either side… as if each person we meet has nothing but us on their minds. Let me share a little secret– most often you are the furthest thing from the minds of most…. they are thinking about themselves too.
So the trick is to meet your observer.
Your observer is that part of you that is always watching… Free from emotion. He is your truth barometer. He watches and records. So as you sit in your daily meditation, step into that space.
I like to visualize myself in a movie theater. You’re sitting in the audience, and up on the screen is your day, or the parts that made you feel uncomfortable or awkward. Pull up those times when you felt puffed up or your anger got the best of you… and observe. Observe without judgement how you showed up in these situations. The game is about tweaking you and your communication skills. Observe where the conversation went south. Take mental notes as to what you could have said or done to encourage a different outcome. As if you were a gaseous spirit, you can roam through the situation and explore the state of the others involved. Take mental notes on how they were showing up. What baggage they are bringing to the table. Take a bow to them and theirs and take responsibility for what is yours… Move on to another day.
This dance has been going on since the beginning of time, for you. It isn’t as if you wake up one day knowing how to speak Russian… right? No, we have to watch and learn. We must be patient with ourselves. There is discomfort that comes with changing patterns that have been ingrained for a lifetime.
It takes objectivity and stick-to-it-iveness to see our truth and let go of behaviors that are no longer serving ourselves or harming those that you love. Where our attention goes energy follows.
So pay attention to what can be different and it will be. 🙂