There is No Wrong Answer… narcissists, selfies, and other musings

I was roaming the internet searching for…

Something to stir the fire within the sea. A thought, an idea, a prompt which would prod me in any manner and awaken a conversation within which I could then write about and explore further through that medium. My writing helps me to get to know what’s going on inside of me.

I am always having at least one conversation with myself at any given time, usually there is more than one going on simultaneously, and those separate discussions often end up blending together, finding common ground which then sparks another internal interaction.

Writing these out helps me to listen, and read between the lines.

These internal musings are sometimes deep, serious, sometimes shallow, frivolous, and sometimes they undulate like whales, visiting the depths then rising back up to the surface for air, then down again, then up. Mesmerising in their rhythm (although sometimes they make me seasick).

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whale-shark - Thomas PeschakWhale shark by Thomas Peschak

I know it’s not a whale, but I love sharks, and this is a gorgeous image.

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Anything can start them and off they go, wandering hither and thither. They don’t always have a path, occasionally they do but the slightest distraction can change their course. I often follow distractions, they have a way of leading to interesting places, and it is easier to go with the flow than try to resist it. Resisting can make something small become large, and before you know it, this tiny pebble is a boulder blocking the way, crashing into the ocean of the mind and setting off ripples the size of tidal waves.

There are times when the mind could use that kind of inner storm. To wash away the old and make way for something new, perhaps something which was always there, a sunken treasure hidden beneath the surface, the weight of water is shifte, the sand is dredged up, and that something is tossed upon the shore for you to find, unlock and discover.

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douglas-adams

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I have always talked with myself. Always… as in from the moment when I figured out that I could do it, or became conscious that I was doing it, which was fairly early on in my life. It started with meeting myself in a mirror and seeing the reflection as a friend with whom I could confide. My reflection talked back and we’ve been chatting ever since, with only a few breaks here and there.

I don’t talk to my reflection that often anymore. I don’t need the mirror to talk with myself as I used to, and I don’t really look in a mirror these days, although I do use the mirror quite a bit in photography. Not just for self portraits but also for taking portraits of others. I find that when a person can see themselves, it relaxes them, distracts them from the large eye of the camera lens staring at them, making them self-conscious and vulnerable in a manner which inspires defensiveness, and it gives them personal power and control in a scenario where they may feel the balance of power is favouring the person behind the camera rather than the one in front of it. A balance which really should favour the person in focus, rather than the one focusing. It also gives them support in the form of themselves being there for them. You can capture an intimacy of character which is very compelling.

Perhaps that is partly why the selfie is so popular, in spite of all the criticism which it gets. And why is it so criticised – Why do we find selfies so annoying that we have to be critical about them? And how much of our criticism of selfies is really what we think of selfies? Being critical of the selfie is as popular as the selfie itself… so do people do it because they truly hate selfies or do they do it because they want to be a member of the crowd which doesn’t like selfies due to not wanting to be on the receiving end of that critical thought?

There have been many articles written about the trend of the selfie, quite a few of which link narcissism to the selfie, some going as far as suggesting that those who take lots of selfies and post them online may be narcissists and that this could be a sign of someone having NPD.

Perhaps that is right, but I wonder… is it not more of a sign of NPD for someone to take an unhealthy interest in what someone else is doing and to criticise them for it?

Why do you care if someone else takes loads of selfies and posts them on their Facebook or Instagram or wherever else? If their activity is bothering you, ignore it, focus your attention elsewhere, perhaps on something which you like rather than on something which you don’t like. Maybe this is an activity which they like that’s why they do it, it gives them pleasure, they enjoy doing it so they do it… but now they have to stop doing it because you don’t like it, and not only do you not like it but you’re criticising them for it and giving them a negative label for doing it. You’re trying to control and censor them for your benefit. And you may call upon others to support what you are doing and saying. You may even go as far as pressuring the selfie-taker in your life to stop by making them ashamed of themselves for doing it.

Who really is the narcissist, the person with NPD, in that scenario.

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Astrology Place - Capricorn quoteThe model whose self but not selfie is used for this quote is – Jessica Clarke – and she is a Taurus.

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There’s a question which keeps cropping up in my online wanderings, in one form or another, which asks – What is wrong with the world and how would you change it to make it better?

There is nothing wrong with the world. The world is what it is and has always been. It’s a chaotic place, and that chaos has a certain order to it… which doesn’t always suit those who live in it, humans in particular, usually for very personal reasons. These very personal reasons sometimes become or appear to be impersonal, projected everywhere but here – on the person doing the projecting.

If you think there is something wrong with the world and you would like the world to change to suit you… start where you are, with yourself, within yourself. You’re a part of this world which is ‘wrong’, and perhaps what is wrong with the world is your perspective that it is wrong and you are… right?

If you’re the only right person living in a wrong world, there is something a bit skewed about that picture.

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what we see(k)

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But my picture is skewed too. I grew up with narcissists, parents with NPD – according to my view due to my experience of them – they do and did not see themselves that way, for them I was what and who was always wrong, as was everyone else.

According to them the world was wrong, and that view of the world was right because it was their view. I don’t know if they ever asked themselves if what was wrong with the world and everyone in it except them was their perspective of it, of others. Probably not as they were too busy focusing on everyone else’s faults and flaws, and using that narrow focus to prove to themselves how perfect they were, and feeling sorry for themselves for living in a place, surrounded by people, who didn’t appreciate their right(eous)ness.

But how can a world full of people which is wrong ever appreciate someone who is always right? Does the majority not create the rule? So the world and all the people in it may be wrong to a narcissist, however, the majority views itself as being right, which would make the narcissist wrong?

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Intelligent empathy

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In a narcissist’s version of reality, this is a troublesome fear that haunts them and threatens their existence.

Narcissists, those with NPD, see the world around them and the people in it in a black or white manner. They don’t necessarily apply to themselves what they apply to others, but that is a grey area of which they are often oblivious. They rarely if ever spot their own hypocrisy. If they do spot it, have a momentary lapse of narcissistic behaviour, it will quickly get buried under a mountain of excuses, explanations, self-pity, and covering of tracks.

If you’ve ever been hard on yourself for thinking that the narcissist in your life had had an epiphany, was about to change, had changed due to enlightenment, ease up on yourself, you simply witnessed them in one of those moments when they are seeing reality. It never lasts, but during the time that it does you will connect with the real person hidden inside of them and that connection is real, but they will bury it under a world of false soon enough. It’s too terrifying for them, they do not like feeling that real, because it makes them too vulnerable. They will revert to their old ways and reset themselves. Return to their comfort zone of being a narcissist, in control of everyone and everything even if it is just an illusion – it’s a powerful one.

Take any fear which you have and amplify it beyond bearability – and you will be able to feel what it is like to be inside of them. That is partly why they are the way they are.

For non-narcissists admitting that we are wrong is hard, but for us being wrong is a blip on our life radar and a normal experience in life.

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real self esteem

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Being wrong and admitting to it can at times be the best thing that happens in a scenario, in a  relationships, as it can open up a new world for us. We use our mistakes to improve ourselves, to learn and understand.

No one likes being wrong, especially when they think they are right, but knowledge is a moveable feast, and to become wiser we sometimes have to let go of the need to be right, and the fear of being wrong.

For a narcissist being wrong is something far more traumatic, it is a crack in their universe which threatens. Their reality, including their existence, collapses in on itself obliterating everything. For them admitting that they might be wrong means that everything about them is wrong. They have no grey areas. Either the world and everyone else is wrong and they are right or the world and everyone in it is right and they are wrong. And for them, being wrong means that they have to die.

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Philip-K-Dick

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That may sound extreme, but narcissists think in extremes.

They are the crusader against bullies who sees bullies everywhere and endeavours to destroy them (by bullying them and getting others to help them do it) – they can never see how their behaviour in their crusade could be that of a bully. They are the victim of a narcissist fighting narcissists everywhere, and they can find a narcissist in anyone, even the least narcissistic person on the planet, advocating annihilation of all narcissists to create a perfect world – and they will never see how narcissistic their behaviour is. They are the parent who will expose one of their children as being a narcissist due to the other parent also being a narcissist – but never due to them. If they have more than one child, one will be the scapegoat and the other a golden child. If they only have one child, that child gets to play both parts simultaneously, erratically shifting with the whims of the parent, them, not the other one – the bad parent will never be them, it will always be the other. They are the exposer of the wrongs of others, the hero out to save the world from all the wrongs, evils, villains, whom they see, perceive, create and attempt to annihilate by whatever means are necessary. Even if those means are wrong, they are not wrong if they are doing it, they are only wrong when others do exactly the same thing – and they will never connect the two, they can’t.

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the broken plate

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It is easier for them to live in a world where they are right and everyone else is wrong. Their identity, persona, existence, depends on that behaviour. They have to focus on what is wrong with the world and everyone else in it. To criticise from their pedestal of perfection.

The problem is always someone else, somewhere else…

To look the other way, at themselves, to ask themselves if perhaps they are the problem, if their perspective is skewed… they can’t live with that, it will kill them, or that’s how it feels and appears to them, and appearances are everything, at least how they perceive appearances, and how they perceive others perceiving appearances is.

I grew up in this kind of reality, and view of the world and people in it… somewhere along the way I fell between the cracks of their perspective, as children of narcissists sometimes do.

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leonard cohen - crack light

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To me, there is nothing wrong with this world and the people in it, including narcissists. There is no right answer. There is no wrong or right, there just is… how you see it, and your view can change like a kaleidoscope.

Someone recently used the search term – What attracts people to narcissists – which led them to my blog. Narcissists are attractive because they offer a simplified, black or white view of the world, people, life. They seem confident in their view. They seem to lack what most of us have, which is doubt, particularly self-doubt. We kind of find that attractive in others, someone who seems to know their shit, which may help us to know our own shit. Especially those who offer us a miracle cure or elixir of some sort which will heal our pain with one swig.

They sell us a dream, an ideal, a perfect world populated by perfect people…

But life is not black or white, being human is all about the shades of grey and other hues in between. It can be overwhelming, like a psychedelic trip, chaos all around and within, so we search for someone to simplify it and make us feel good about it.

Narcissists can do that for you… but it comes at a price, and that price is very complicated, far more knotty than any problems you had before they entered your life.

And perhaps that’s what they are here to teach us. They are great teachers, perhaps because we tend to learn things more deeply when we have to struggle, when we experience pain.

We may not be able to change them, but we can change how we view the world and all the people in it, including them, and ourselves. A small shift, adding a different angle to our view, widening our focus…

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eckhart Tolle