Narcissism seems to be a theme that is showing up a lot in conversations with people I work with and with people I know. Whenever a theme shows up in such frequency, I know to suspect that I’ve got some personal exploring to do regarding that theme. So, I began to do some discovering! And, in doing so, I decided it might be fun to do a whole month of my Thursday YouTube Lives around the theme of Narcissism.
Doesn’t that sound like fun?!
They will start Thursday, Nov. 4th, at 3:30pm PST. Here’s the link.
Now, I’m not an expert in the field of Narcissism per se. But I’ve had my fair share of relationships with narcissists beginning with my parents and completed in my last relationship that ended when I was 60. That is a lot of time spent feeling bad about myself and bad about the people I spent a lot of time with!
Since then I’ve been revealing to myself all the ways that I’ve participated in narcissistic relationships. I’ve explored what took me into these relationships, and what there was for me to learn through them. One thing I know from experience is that once the learning is learned, liberation is at hand!!!
Among many revelations, I uncovered how I myself was the more obvious narcissist in the relationship. When I was 20 years old, I married a man who loved me. I figured that I would change him into the man that I would love. I didn’t respect him for who he was. I manipulated and connived to get what I wanted, and I used him to gain self-importance. I never saw myself as narcissistic. I saw myself trying to be a good wife, making a good home, and doing what I was supposed to do – help my husband be a better him.
More recently, I also revealed that, although I always wanted children, there was a part of me that wanted children so that I would alway be important to them. I believed that I would always know myself as important because that’s how my children would relate to me. After all, isn’t that what mothers are to their children – always important in every way?
When my daughter was old enough, she accused me of being a narcissist. I didn’t see it. I couldn’t see it. I knew in my heart I was doing the best I could to be the best I could be. Eventually, little by little, I saw what she saw in me – the parts I could no longer deny. How I wasn’t walking my talk. How I talked bad about other people to feel good about myself. How I made excuses to justify my poverty of spirit and pocketbook; just to name a few. This wasn’t a moment of falling apart or having any major breakdowns. It was just small revelations of truth that I was grateful for receiving.
The fun thing is that my daughter really appreciates the times I acknowledge my narcissism. One of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received is her telling me that she doesn’t know of any other narcissist but me who admits they are a narcissist and is changing their ways. You can see how that would appeal to that part of me that wants to be seen as special! I won the lottery on that one!!!
The bottom line, though, is that I so appreciate being seen and loved by her for being me! And our relationship has become more loving, not because I tell her what she wants to hear, which is what a good narcissist does, but because I now, in essence, say what I mean and mean what I say. I practice integrity, and I practice seeing her in her own light – not in mine. It’s big work!!
It isn’t comfortable to share this with you. However, bashing narcissists is a great pastime that doesn’t really heal anyone. It just keeps the process going. By identifying where, when, and how I was narcissistic, perhaps it will support and empower you to explore yourself for ways that you too may be attempting to gain self-importance through the use of people.
For instance, making people wrong for who they are, what they do, how they dress, or for any choices that they make, is narcissistic. By putting people down it creates a sense of self-importance – I’m better than them. Someone who lives with a person with narcissistic tendencies does this a lot! “Why can’t they be more like me?”
I spent decades bashing my parents, thinking of myself as better than them. When, in fact, I wasn’t. My bashing of them and others gave me a sense of self-importance, that I’m right and they are wrong. My righteousness never allowed healthy relationships with them, nor with the men who were my partners. It was always a one-down relationship. Nobody wins!
No relationship can grow when there is a one-down, right and wrong dynamic. And, if there isn’t a point where people can meet in honest love and care, it’s time to look at the lessons to be learned, learn them, and then see what happens. As long as I stayed in the relationship in order to serve my needs for safety, security, stability, and not from mutual care, respect and love, then I was staying in it for the wrong reasons. I was using the person for personal gain. And both people are being harmed.
Narcissism, like many life issues, is kind of on a spectrum. You, like me, may have some tendencies toward narcissism, or you may have a lot of tendencies towards narcissism. It doesn’t matter how much you have or don’t have, or how much another person has or doesn’t have. What matters is what you do with your life, your beliefs, your choices, so that you grow your capacity to truly love with no need for anything in return. Moving yourself lower and lower on the narcissism spectrum is an interesting game to play. In doing so, I’ve found some awesome ways to self-appreciate and self-honor myself without using other people to do that for me. It’s a good feeling.
If you are curious about what you can do for yourself or your partner in relation to narcissism, try this one simple practice: Make no excuses for your actions. This includes making no justifications or rationalizations. As simple as this practice is, it is an eye-opener to how often we make ourselves right for being wrong. This is just one small aspect of narcissism so many of us overlook in ourselves. Fun, right?
So if you are curious about this whole topic on Narcissism
and would perhaps like to join in a gentle and honest conversation,
join me next Thursday, November 4th at 3:30pm on YouTube.
Here is the link!