I’ve only met a few bonafied narcissists. People out of touch with reality. Possessing a fictitious grandiose view of themselves. This level of selfishness borders on mental disorder. Thankfully, only 6 to 8 percent of the population will deal with this condition, according to the professionals. It may be too extreme to lock them away, but requiring dog tags for identification purposes, might serve the greater good.
Wikipedia references the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of narcissism as a personality disorder. It’s been listed in the DSM since 1968. Drawing on the historical concept of megalomania. Narcissism is considered a social or cultural problem. It’s the third leg of the dark triad of personality traits. The other two being psychopathy (antisocial behavior) and Machiavellianism. (a disregard for morality- a focus on self-interests) I have to be self-aware, sensitive, and alert; I can succumb to narcissistic tendencies on any given Tuesday.
Many of us are on the other end of the spectrum. Most of us were taught to love others the way we love ourselves. The assumption being, we love ourselves. Most of the people I’ve interacted with, over a fifty year span, find loving themselves challenging. To clarify, love here is representative of benevolence. Social charity and affection for your fellow man. It’s having an interest in the well-being of the broader community. Including yourself!
Observing how I respond to other people is a great indicator to how I see myself. I can be on the front line of giving to others. And, I can be isolated in a room grieving for the life I think I’m suppose to have. Directly or indirectly my neighbor gets the treatment I’m giving to myself. So does my spouse, children, and those closest to me.
I call my source of enlightenment, God. Some call it, higher power, supreme being, and a host of other things. I have found this to be true; how I see myself is how I see God. If I feel short-changed, or cheated in life, it’s His fault. He cheated me. God can’t be who He says He is and allow terrible things to happen. I’ve asked for help I didn’t receive. I’ve prayed prayers that didn’t get answered. What kind of God is that? I’ve been honest and dishonest in my interactions with God. I’ve said to Him what I’d been taught to say. Used the words I was trained to use. Even after I knew better. Change is never an accident.
I’ve experienced internal conflict in my conversations with the divine. Saying things like, I’m not worthy. I’m a horrible person. Degrading myself in an attempt to make myself more attractive to and angry deity. In hopes of obtaining an exemption from the certainty of the, cruel and unusual punishment, I had coming. This approach caused me to see God as defective as I saw myself. In order to figure out who I am I had to know who He is.
There’s not many people who get on a airplane without some sort of luggage. Life is the same way. We all travel with some kind of baggage. Airlines are suspicious of passengers with no bags. And so am I. We live in an imperfect world. With imperfect people. Imperfect systems. And, imperfect institutions. I don’t trust people unless they walk with a limp. Success without failure isn’t normal. Does everyone have to crash and burn? I don’t think so. But do I think you’re perfect? No I don’t. I don’t need to know the details of your misdeeds to satisfy some sadistic tendency. I don’t want to know your failures to make me feel better about mine. Or to provide comparisons where I can extract an excuse for myself. I need to know how you started treating yourself appropriately. When did you learn to be your own best friend?
The occasional traveler seems to carry the most non-essentials. People with the most baggage tend to have low to moderate success. Frequent fliers learn not to pack every experience into their suitcase. Not every story can be the headline of your life. You can’t love others until you love yourself. When people do you wrong don’t agree with them. When you are discounted, disrespected, or made to feel invisible don’t internalize it. If someone fails to honor you don’t fashion the experience into a way of thinking about yourself. We can all prolong pain with wrong interpretations of life events. Whether self-destructive or abuse toward others, forgiveness unwraps your potential.
Dr. Joe Rubino, creator of the Self-Esteem System, estimates eighty-five percent of people suffers with low self-esteem. A self esteem deficit doesn’t lend itself to reaching our potential. Living our dream. Understanding our value.
More than Wishful Thinking
I’m not lovable. I’m not worthy of love. I’m not smart enough. Attractive enough. Interesting enough. I’m defective. Flawed. I’ve created such a mess in my life. I have addictions. I haven’t been able to form lasting relationships. I don’t follow through on anything. I let people walk on me. People use me all the time. I’m hopeless. I have dark thoughts. I’m an angry person. Volatile. Explosive. Destructive. I’m a hater. I’m rebellious. I rage against the machine. I’ve hurt people. Use people. I’ve been and abuser. I’ve caused a great deal of pain. I don’t respect anybody or anything. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum you are not as bad or as good as you think you are.
God is, and always has been, the perfect match for each of us. To think you are beyond His ability to remedy, redeem, and restore is wishful thinking. Do you think your set of circumstances are so prolific that you’re the “one” God has no answer for? Religious rhetoric, hypocritical behavior, right-wing ranting, and left-wing promotion are all in His purview. The atheist may think he has outsmarted God by claiming He doesn’t exist but God doesn’t move any further away from him than He does anyone else.
If you think God cares for, gives Himself to, and loves you while hating the person next to you, think again. It’s always been unwise to compare oneself to others. Thankfulness and judgement don’t cohabitate. Wars, violence, protests, politics, even religion isn’t making the world a better place. If we think we are too outrageous, if we think we are exclusive, one way or the other, we are confusing our intention with God’s intention. What I accomplish on the inside, the maturity I grow into, the self-mastery I achieve has the greatest ability to bring about positive change in the world.
I can think I’m so good I don’t need God. I can think I’m so bad God can’t help me. I can’t think I’m somewhere in the middle, lost in space. At some point in time I may have subscribed to every concept. One thing is certain. God is not hiding. It might be shocking, to some, to know just how close He is to all of us.
One of the best rituals I’ve ever incorporated into my self-care regimen is asking myself this question everyday.
Are You Thinking To Highly Of Yourself?