What does want not get?
What does Want lack in the way of understanding?
Or am I misunderstanding what this – Want doesn’t get – means?
I heard this the other day while minding my own business, but it was said so loudly and emphatically that it made itself my business whether I wanted it to be or not. But did I get it?
A mother was wheeling her small child (who was seated in that prison known as the child seat of a shopping trolley) around a supermarket, driving the cart down an isle filled with ‘wants’, bursting with things designed and arranged to make adults and children want them… yeah… I felt for her, and I also felt for the child. It’s not an easy situation whichever side of the perspective you are on.
The child was not screaming, throwing a tantrum, or anything which made me notice it at all, I only paid attention when the mother spoke those words because she raised her voice, and since she was rather close to me at that time, I felt her every word and the emotion within echoing in my ear.
That was it. No drama ensued. The child didn’t remonstrate, kick up a fuss. The mother didn’t say anything else, not that I could hear anyway.
But, for the rest of my visit to the supermarket those words kept playing over and over in my mind, and my mind played with them, perceiving them from many different angles.
- I saw a mother who had been a child having those same things said to her by her mother. She was repeating a motherly wisdom. Was it repeated by rote or did she understand those words, but had she understood them when she was a child as she expected her child to understand them.
- I saw a person who felt disappointed with life. She wanted things, she didn’t get them. She was passing her disappointment on to her child, perhaps in an attempt to stop her child from being hopeful and therefore ultimately disappointed.
- I saw a child learning a life lesson which would disable its ability to go after what it wanted. I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing, it was just a thing which could go either way.
- I saw a child getting used to a situation which it had been in before. This was probably not the first time its mother had said that, and it wouldn’t be the last. When would it believe her?
- I saw how that mother and child, that big persona and small person in a relationship of human to human, power dynamics and such, related to me.
- I had once been pushed around, trapped in a trolley. I’d been pushed around as an adult too. Told I couldn’t have what I wanted because… that’s not how things work.
- I have been an adult who has been told, especially by law of attraction snake oil salesmen, that wanting something is exactly how you get it.
- And on and on… perspectives lining up to be noticed.
The irony (if it is irony) was that as those words played over and over in my mind, as I cruised the isles… I felt detached from want… disinterested in getting… I didn’t want anything, but I got things nonetheless.
Things I figured I might want later on in the day, the night, the week to come, things I’d wanted in the past, for practical reasons… maybe. I’ll get those, I might not want them now, but I might want them later so I’ll get them now to fulfill the wants of later… if I don’t do that now then I’ll have to deal with needs I can’t meet later… when it will be too late, and late, and… I don’t want to deal with that now or later so…
Overall though, as I browsed the isles, my eyes were more focused on browsing the perspectives my mind was listing as it cogitated – Want doesn’t get.
I felt fed up. Not in a particularly negative manner, just in a sated way.
That sense of being sated isn’t one of having everything I want, it’s more a case of accepting that you can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need (I’d embed the Rolling Stones version of that, but the intro gets on my nerves and I don’t want that).
or we overvalue the negatives of ourselves, and can’t see the positives because of it.
Over the years I’ve learned to cope with not getting anything I wanted… or getting everything that I didn’t want.
Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without – was something my mother repeated to me, as it had been told to her when she was a child.
My parents fought with each other about everything. Including having a child, and what to do with it once they had it – neither of them really wanted what they got. But one thing they almost agreed on, while still arguing, was that I would get what they didn’t want of themselves, and they would get what they wanted from me.
As time passed in my journey through life, I grew to fear wanting things, and getting things… especially something I wanted because it always came with strings attached which invariably made me regret wanting it and being happy I got what I wanted.
I also grew to fear wanting anything because the moment I wanted something was the moment I created some sort of paradox, a vortex, a schism, which meant that what I wanted was sucked as far away from me as possible, and what I got often seemed to be the exact opposite.
I wanted to love and be loved… and found myself caught up in hatred and being hated.
I wanted a place to call home, where I could finally plant my roots and be nourished by that… and instead I moved from place to place, roots always uprooted, nourishment bled out of me rather than absorbed into me.
I wanted to belong… I experienced belonging nowhere, not even within myself, in my body.
But… the moment I gave up wanting those things, those things materialised… in some form which was recognisable.
this is my entry for – From Every Angle – I know it’s just one shot but for me it reflects several different angles, including the one behind the camera. It’s not what the Photo Challenge wants, but…
So… Want doesn’t get, but not wanting does…!?!
So… if I don’t want anything… will I get everything…!?!
Not if not wanting anything is a manipulation to get everything.
You may be able to fool yourself, others, society, etc, but you can’t fool the universe and whatever universal laws play a part in your experience of life.
I’ve watched narcissists being ‘good’ to get what they want, then turning bad when being good hasn’t had the immediate results they were expecting.
They were told by reliable sources that behaving a certain way would get them what they wanted, so they did it and they didn’t get their want met. They’re so done with that kind of misinformation and forcing themselves to be good if good isn’t going to get them what they want.
They people-pleased – those people they pleased now owe them!
If they’re nice to you (and this is hard work for them), then you have to be nice in return = you have to give them what they want to get from you.
If they ‘Follow’ you on Social Media, you’d better ‘Follow’ them back, and if they ‘Unfollow’ you after you’ve ‘Followed’ them because they ‘Followed’ you, you still have to ‘Follow’ them or you”l be outed as an a-hole while they portray themselves as a goody-two-shoes victim of your villainy.
The same applies to the ‘Like’ button. They ‘Like’ your shit, you’d better ‘Like’ their brilliance (even if a lot of what they post as theirs is ‘borrowed’ from others, it’s theirs now, and they don’t like crediting the sources from which they ‘borrow’ heavily, but they will credit sources they’re sucking up to for online traffic).
For them being good, being kind, is a business agreement. If they give you what you want then you have to give them what they want because the only reason they’re giving you what you want is to get what they want.
The IOU you owe them will always be more important, bigger than what they owe you – they gave you stuff, now you owe them for life, and you should be grateful about that because they’re special, and you’re special now too by proxy. Owing them makes you very special, they need what you’ve got because they want it.
They have expectations – don’t disappoint them!
If they disappoint you – you should not have had expectations!
Narcissists aren’t the only ones who do that, they’re just more obvious about it as they lack the patience to play the long con.
If you feel that narcissists play the long con really well, your narcissist may be a sociopath with narcissistic tendencies (like big corporations), or you may be the one playing the long con on yourself – the way I did with my parents.
A large portion of my anger at them and what they did to me… is more anger at myself at what I did to me. Sure they encouraged me to con myself, but I kept that con going even after I’d become aware that this was a major part of our relationship.
I was the one doing the long con, their cons were short compared to mine… they were quick to let me know something was over, but I just kept hanging in there hoping that it wasn’t over even when it was.
I just wanted them to love me… I didn’t accept the fact that it was never going to happen, they couldn’t provide that service, I was never going to get it no matter how much I paid… and that wanting it, hoping to get it, was what kept me a prisoner of their narcissistic hell.
Narcissists are basically Snake Oil salesmen.
They create a product designed to induce desire – this product could be their love, their attention, their knowledge which they say they know – its ingredients include their own insatiable desires which may be ones that you, the public, may also have – to be loved, accepted, paid attention, noticed, be rich, famous, special, etc.
They then offer you a free sample, more if need be, until they get you hooked (getting people hooked on a product is entrepreneurship 101).
If they can get you hooked based on a fear being alleviated (protect yourself from hackers, buy this online safety device, pay extra for extra, keep your privacy secure from bad people with bad intentions), then you’ll grab on tightly and never let go, and they will be kings and queens of you (their privacy app or system requires access to your privacy and system), and you accept their rulership and superiority (you’re addicted now, so what choice do you have, your wants which want to get rule you).
As one article I read on this whole Ashley Madison debacle said – if we could just for one minute stop being all outraged, judgmental, holier than thou, frightened and distracted by all the flashing lights, and consider it from a point of view that is detached, seeing the bigger picture of the smaller details, we would see a pervasive pattern which we can all relate to… even if we don’t want to and because we don’t want to we don’t get it.
We’re never safe when we put our safety into the hands of others no matter what they promise us.
They might even be trustworthy, may want to live up to their promises and the expectations those promises create in us, and disappointing us, our expectations for them to live up to our ideal, may be the last thing they ever want to do.
But… who are they trusting?
If those we trust can’t trust who they trust… what’s the knock on effect of that?
Hacktivist manifestos and noble intentions proclaimed aside, what was the real reason the hackers who hacked that site did what they did? Why do people do that kind of shit to people? And yes, that site was riddled with people doing shit to people… why do people do that kind of shit to people?
Is it because we want something which we can’t get? And this is how we get it or how we stop others from getting it – If we can’t get what we want we’ll be damned if others are going to get what they want!
Don’t get me wrong (or do if that’s what you want to get)… I’m not making excuses for narcissists, I’m not shifting the blame – they’re very guilty of what they do, even when they haven’t a clue about how it affects others, who they are, what they’re doing…
It’s just that having grown up with narcissists, having been conned by them, I have come to see how much of their conning me relied on my conning myself.
If I want to stop being conned… to get that I have to be honest with myself. Which hurts, and in my want to get pain avoidance, to get pleasure instead, I may keep leaving myself open to be fooled, by me, by others, because of me, and so on.
Narcissists have caused me a lot of pain…
And in my quest to eradicate my pain I have bought into miracle cures for it… sold by others who… may have been narcissists.
via Scientists get a little too Honest
I bought into cures to fix what I thought was wrong with me.
How did I know I needed fixing and that something was wrong with me? How do we know these sort of things?
The cures I bought into… I really bought them (but even then they never belonged to me) because they came at a price, offered by Snake Oil salesmen of the spiritual, emotionally, psychological kind…
They’d give me a taste of pleasure, get me hooked, then make me pay through every pore in my body for something which… had I been thinking more rationally would have made me run the other way from it.
Did they cure me miraculously of my pain?
No, but they did quick fix my ability to buy more of those kind of cures in 3 easy steps (or mistakes).
- Check their bio – Their bios often sound like made-for-TV based-on-a-true-story mind-numbing nonsense… which I wanted to believe so I told (sold) myself that it wasn’t nonsense. They’d really lived the hell I’d lived and was still living but they weren’t still living it due to their miraculous system. Unlike me they’d been cured by magic… the kind of magic they’d got for free but which they’d bottled and were now selling to me at a price because they have to pay the rent too (on their megamansion in a megarich neighbourhood).
- Check those they work with – all gurus of magic and the miraculous have minions to do those ordinary things which they can no longer do because they’re too special to do them. Once at a New Age fair I went to a workshop given by a very loved and popular life guru… in the break this guru treated their assistant to a very special tantrum. I happened to witness this because I’d strayed from the path I was supposed to take which all other participants has dutifully taken (told you I needed fixing and that there was somethign wrong with me), and the guru gave me the kind of look which wanted to hypnotise what I’d seen out of me or turn me into dust (definitely this option) which another minion could clean up and get rid of.
- Check their sources – Not those elusive, mysterious sources which they claim saved them, which are so fuzzy and hard to pin down, and which will now save you too through them but only through by buying into their cure and better-than-you attitude, and even then, that shit only works when you pay premium for the premium services. Check their actual sources… these gurus are people, people leave footprints even when they claim to float nowadays several inches above the ground.
via Scientists get a little too Honest
If you think there aren’t narcissists selling magical potions to cure you of the pain of being the victim of a narcissist… check again.
They’re always where it’s at… keeping up with trends, what is popular, what will make them popular (as fast as possible, they’re in a rush, get out of their way – you’re either helping them or a hindrance), how to make their mark, get what they want… which is us buying into the cult of them.
It never ceases to amaze me (maybe because I’m a fool) when I come across articles or posts or comments on NPD forums wherein someone seems surprised, and deeply hurt, by having been ‘conned’ by Sam Vaknin, Mr. Narcissist.
I get being fooled by a narcissist whom you don’t know is a narcissist, but one who tells you he is a narcissist and writes about how he thinks, behaves, is…
He is open and honest about being a narcissist, about his behaviour and traits… yet people, people who mostly only are aware of him because they’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist and have done a search online wanting to know more, still expect a self-confessed narcissist (which is rare but which happens occasionally) to not be a narcissist.
You will get from a narcissist what you get from every narcissist, and it will never be what you want… even if they seem to be a want fulfillment machine at first… first impressions… aren’t the lasting ones.
If someone say to you – I’m a narcissist – why expect them not to be one with you…?
Who is fooling who?
The answer to that can be very complex, complicated, and convoluted…
We’re all a bit of a mess even when we look tidy.
And sometimes we’re all intertwined in a Gordian knot waiting for Alexander the Great to cut us free…
Want doesn’t get…
Maybe no one is really ‘fooling’ anyone, at least not on purpose, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Perhaps those that seem like narcissists really aren’t and those who seem like they aren’t really are. You really never can tell.
It’s true that sometimes those who are narcissists aren’t always obvious as narcissists, and sometimes the people we peg as narcissists are just behaving narcissistically, as we can all do, but they’re not actually narcissists.
However, I think we can tell who is a narcissist and who isn’t, especially if we’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist, and researched NPD as many people are doing these days, there are some excellent articles and resources about NPD, and some very precise Red Flag lists, but we don’t always want to know whether they are or are not, particularly if they’re presenting themselves in an attractive manner which offers to fulfill a need, want, desire of ours.
I knew there was something not quite right with that person – is one of the most common things you hear people say when a relationship goes wrong. Now they could just be saying that, but most of us have had experiences which make us say something along those lines. We knew someone was too good to be true, but we just wanted them to be true so we ignored our instincts, intuition, our logic and went with the dream.
It doesn’t always go badly if we do that, there are a lot of great people in the world who can seem too good to be true and they are the real deal, but when it does go wrong we remember the path we took, and all those times we spotted a red flag and ignored it. We learn from our experience with the aim of not repeating that mistake.
I think the best approach is to get to know people. Narcissists always give themselves away, sometimes by not wanting to give anything away about themselves.
I both agree and disagree with you, Ursula. As you have mentioned yourself, narcissists will find out what hurts you and use it to further hurt you, they will steal your ideas, thoughts, and essentially anything they sink their claws into, they’ll take your soul from you if they can. That said, a ‘victim’ for lack of a better term, would be extremely closed off and guarded. Eventually you’d have to let your guard down again in order to establish any kind of healthy relationship, but depending on the severity of their experiences, the chances of that are rather slim. I don’t think ‘hiding’ your true self is necessarily a sign of narcissism, people who have been abused in any way or been victims of violent crimes tend to close themselves off in true defensive mechanism form.
Yes, you’re right. There is a difference between someone who has retreated into themselves, closed themselves off and is guarded due to trauma. Their hiding of themselves is not the same as a narcissist’s. They usually don’t want to hide, be guarded, etc, they want to connect with others person to person, they’re just afraid, hurt, and cautious, and with good reason. Whereas narcissists hide themselves because they want to be the persona they’re presenting, and they’re not interested in connecting with others person to person, they want acolytes, servants, suppliers.
I was thinking about the way narcissists can talk a blue streak about themselves yet not say anything about themselves. They tell you about their persona, not the person behind the persona. That persona can change when they find someone knew they want to be, or when they don’t like a part of it, so their story changes. They have a script they’re following which they’ve built up by studying the type of person they want to be, a lot of what they say about themselves comes from things other people have said, from books, from personality type profiles. They’ve rehearsed their patter. If you hear them talking to someone else they may say almost the exact same things about themselves with little variation as they said to you, they do not interact with others the way most people do.
If you ask them a question about themselves for which they don’t have a prepared answer, they react defensively because they can’t be spontaneous (unless they are deliberately being spontaneous and have practiced doing that). They may get angry, lash out at you as though you’ve accused them of something, they may suddenly get offended, act as though you’ve somehow wounded them, they may change the subject, may accuse you of changing the subject, trying to get back to their script, or they may redirect the question to you to hear how you would answer it, then they will absorb your answer and make it theirs, afterwards they will research the issue so that the next time they are asked that question they have an answer for it and it will be part of their script.
They can’t do dialogue, they have to control the flow of conversation, they can’t handle a natural flow of discussion between them and someone else, where people jump around from subject to subject, sharing personal bits and pieces of themselves as they come to mind spontaneously. They can only do monologue with pauses for you to say what they’re expecting you to say so that they can continue with what they’re saying. You are given a script too, and you’re not supposed to deviate from it.
With narcissists there is a barrier between you and them, you don’t talk person to person, you talk person to persona. The persona is rigid, stage-managed, and you rarely get to interact with the person they are behind the persona. On those rare occasions when they’re being a person and you connect person to person with them, it freaks them out and there is usually a backlash as they try to do damage control for letting you see the behind the scenes.
If you think about the narcissist you’ve known, who may have told you loads and loads about themselves – you really don’t know anything about them, who they really are behind all the stories they tell and the statements they make about themselves.
Many of their stories are about others in relation to them, you in relation to them, their identity comes from the identity they give to others, to you, they often use comparison in their dialogue – I’m kind because everyone else is mean, I’m good because everyone else is bad, I’m perfect because everyone else is flawed and I point those flaws out – only a perfect person could do that, I’m right because everyone else is wrong. But who are they without others?
And how much of what they say about themselves comes across in what they do, can they be it without thinking about being it?
When you’re with someone who is guarded, hiding, etc, because they’ve been hurt, traumatised, are in pain, they’re genuinely being who they are, that comes across in what they do, they’re afraid and that fear is very different from a narcissist’s fear of you getting to know them, and getting close to them. The vibes are different, the self expression is different, the silence is different.
Again, I both agree and disagree with you. Perhaps what you describe is the difference between varying degrees of narcissism. Of course, there are the typical narcissists as everyone knows them, the ones who clearly have an agenda where their bottom line is the only thing that matters and they will stomp anyone or anything who gets in their path. But, I think there are major similarities between the narcissist you just described and those who are victims, or survivors, of abuse and/or trauma. I think both can get defensive and even angry if their true self is exposed, and not necessarily for different reasons. The narcissist may not want it used against them for fear of diverting from their plans, but the ‘victim’ may fear reliving whatever it is they went through in the first place. Both reactions would be the same. Both types of people would seem scripted as well, the victim because they are used to following someone else’s script and any deviation has resulted in severe consequences, so they would then closely watch anyone new they interact with to try and ‘read’ them to see of they’re ok enough to let their guard down around or not. Unfortunately, I think this backfires because a true narcissist is almost sociopathic and it’s hard to know then which way to go with it. Really all it comes down to then is trust and that whole mushy, messy taking a risk on people thing. 😀
As far as emulating others, I think that goes both ways as well. The narcissist does it to appear empathic because of basic tactics of persuasion, the victim may have been around the same type of bs for so long they really don’t know what is out there or how to react to it, so they kind of take cues from others. I do all of these things all the time, sometimes it’s for almost narcissist reason, like it hasn’t been about me for so long I’m going to make it about me, I really try to watch that though, because I’m pretty good at being an a-hole when I get in that mode, but also I do it for other reasons, like scripting. There comes a point when you get tired of people reacting to you like you’re crazy, so you battle between being yourself and putting on the ‘professional’ mask that society accepts. The joys of life, everything has questions and a plethora of multi-faceted answers and no one really knows anything about anything or anyone.
What you said about the victim who can come across as a narcissist because of their trauma, reminded me of this article:
This is a very insightful article too, written by a former victim who became abusive due to her victimhood:
My experience of narcissists is mostly with the Covert kind, who often play the victim:
At first they tend to lure you in with pleas of ‘Help me’ as though they’re drowning and all they need is a helping hand, and so you offer a helping hand, and before you know it they’ve dragged you into their swirling waters and are drowning you. As you get to know them you realise that not only do they not really want to be helped, they’re very protective of their ‘wound’, it is their precious and they will kill you if you try to heal it, take it away from them.
It’s a bit like the ex-leper in Monty Python’s Life of Brian who is angry at Jesus for having healed him because now he has no livelihood.
Eric Berne calls them ‘Yes, buts’ – http://www.ericberne.com/games-people-play/why-dont-you-yes-but/ – the link is just an extract from the book, in his book Games People Play, he elaborates more on the purpose of the game and the reasons for playing it. He connects it with other games, such as – http://www.ericberne.com/games-people-play/stupid/
My own pain made me behave very narcissistically, and although I knew I was seriously messed up and my mess could mess others up, I couldn’t see a way out, everything I did to fix myself didn’t fix anything, in fact it sometimes made things worse. I had that battle which you mentioned, of putting on a social mask (of pretending I was fine) or just letting it all hang out as is. Eventually letting it all hang out as is won, but it was a long slog through my own bs and the bs of others to get there. I’m not any less of a mess, my wound isn’t ‘healed’, I just have a different approach to it and am not living inside of my wound, it’s just another part of me, like my broken tooth and my crooked chin. They’re not who I am, they’re just parts of me and my life story.
I used to get very frustrated when dealing with others’ attitudes towards me, the looks, the behind my back judging, the in my face holier than thou lectures, etc, then it slowly dawned on me that – Who cares – as in I’m fed up of caring about what they think, it’s not helpful, it’s a hindrance, but they’re free to keep caring if they want to about what they think is wrong with me.
If people think you’re crazy, which people often do with me, then let them think that, they obviously need to think that to make themselves feel sane or something like that. And if they think you’re crazy even when you’re wearing your ‘normal’ mask, then why bother wearing the mask, might as well just be yourself. People are going to think what they’re going to think, and trying to control what they think is a narcissist’s game and look how well it works for them, everyone loves them, there aren’t millions of people hating narcissists at all.
I do tone myself down when out in public, turn the volume down and try to be considerate to my environment, but I don’t bother putting on masks or pretending, or at least it happens very rarely (old habits and such). There’s no need really. People seem to like me more when I’m being myself, letting it all hang out, than when I was trying to be someone who people might like, mainly because when I’m being myself others can relax and be themselves. I really wish I’d figured that out sooner, but I wasn’t ready to do that then. And if people don’t like me, they’re free to do that, they’re welcome to share what’s wrong with me according to them, it might be worth hearing as it could be relevant, but if it’s not then I’m free not to make it my problem. I have plenty of other problems, ones which belong to me, to keep me warm at night.
Our wise ancestors have said it over and over again in a million different ways and languages – Just be yourself.
How do humans manage to make something so simple so frigging complicated.
And you’re right, no one knows anything or anyone, which is actually even more reason just to let it all be as it is, whatever it is. 🙂
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Fair enough, thanks for the links, hopefully I’ll get around to checking them out soon.
Sorry about that, I did kind of inundate you with links (and a bunch of my rambling blah).
Actually this morning I read an interesting psych article which you might find worth a gander – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anxiety-zen/201508/shy-sensitive-introverted-and-narcissistic – that’s it, no more links!
When I’m not sure what someone is searching for, but I sense a personal quest in their words (that sense could be wrong), I tend to do what I do with myself when I’m questing which is flood them with information. I find that helpful, I’m an INTP, so that works for me. I like to flood my mind with info then shake the inner sieve until what’s relevant to me is what is left. I know it doesn’t suit everyone because we each have our individual styles.
When in doubt, just ignore me 😉
No need for a ‘sorry’ at all, I greatly appreciate all the links, I enjoy reading these things, especially if I wouldn’t have come across them myself, I’m truly appreciative. I did read the psychology today one who just posted and it was quite interesting, but I am to the point where I feel like just about anything anyone does is being classified as narcissistic these days as long as it’s not truly altruistic. The fact is, everything is circstantial, and until anyone knows why anyone does anything else, there’s no point in classifying them as anything other than someone who personally feel like attempting to get to know or deal with. As you said, there will always be people who judge so really what’s the difference? I’m certain at this point I could definitely be labeled a narcissist myself, but I don’t think I am, a few other mental health terms maybe, but not that one, but I also know my own story and my own perspective, and what I do say and don’t say and it really doesn’t matter to me how that appears to others, well to a degree anyway, and that in itself can be narcissistic. Everything with a grain of salt, I suppose. I’m still going to keep reading your blog because I like your writing and I’m still going to look into all this stuff but I’m not really taking too much stock in it. Thanks again, I really do appreciate it, feel free to shoot me links anytime!
Thank you 🙂
I agree, I also have the impression these days that anything which moves is being labeled a narcissist, and that even breathing is narcissistic. I think it’s a phase which NPD awareness is going through, similar to the phase that airport security is going through where everything is viewed as a weapon. When something becomes a hot topic and gets into the collective consciousness which causes fear and panic, everyone wants to be safe and in the effort to get safe people become hypervigilant and paranoid. People are seeing narcissists/terrorists everywhere.
The thing about narcissism is that it is natural to all humans. Every single one of us has narcissistic traits and behaviours. These are both positive and negative. But right now they’ve all been classified as negative. Perhaps that’s a backlash to the previous decades when being narcissistic was a goal which we were encouraged to positively acquire. Greed is good! Fake it to make it! Just do it! and a bunch of other slogans, positive affirmations, and other propaganda trying to get us all to be the best that we could be, have it all, and do whatever we had to do to get it. Not so long ago we celebrated narcissists and narcissistic behaviour. We loved the grandiose. Then the giant bubble burst, and we all got injured in the debris, leaving many people very disillusioned, confused, in pain, looking for someone else to blame. Enter the narcissist as the villain of our times, the Big Bad Wolf who blew all of our houses down, who took and took and took until he destroyed the planet and left us with nothing.
You’re not a narcissist, you know that. But you’re right, you could easily get labeled as one because it is the popular accusation of the moment, used most often by narcissists and other people who get pissed off because you’re not being who they want and need you to be for them, and not doing what they’ve decided you should be doing.
I read a post on an NPD blog awhile ago which centered around a commenter who the blogger had decided to ‘out’ as a narcissist. They included the comments this person had made which the blogger thought proved that they were a narcissist. I could not see what I was being told to see, what I actually thought at the time was that if anyone was being a narcissist, it was the blogger. The commenter had gone to the blog for help, they had shared their painful story (which is not easy to do and many people find commenting on a blog a difficult thing to do). The blogger is one who considers themselves empathic and empathy very valuable, yet there was no empathy shown for this commenter from the blogger or anyone else. The mistake the commenter made which eventually led to them being branded a narcissist in public was to question the blogger on a certain point which the blogger was pushing as being crucial to recovery. They had been logical and reasonable in their questioning, their comments seemed fair, they were being emotional but considering their story and the subject that makes sense. The blogger took umbrage, and rather than let the point be a moot one, the blogger kept arguing from a basis of I’m right/you’re wrong and I’m going to make you accept it. There were a bunch of comments on that post which had an element of witch hunt. A narcissist had been found and the pack closed ranks, going in for the kill. It was rather disturbing because up until then I’d thought this blogger was levelheaded. However, when you blog about NPD, and if you get attention for it, it’s frighteningly easy to go on a power trip, and the victim of a narcissist who started a blog because of their own experience may tip over into being a narcissist themselves (living out Nietzsche’s warning about monster hunters). Hopefully the trip to the narcissist side only lasts long enough to learn something from the experience, an insight into NPD, but not so long that they never emerge.
I don’t think anyone in that scenario was a narcissist, they just got caught up in a situation which got out of hand, which triggered their respective pain, raw and angry, and the pain did the talking.
Pain is narcissistic, and when we’re engulfed by it we may behave narcissistically. But that does not a narcissist make. It does however give us insight into what it is like to have NPD, and why they do a lot of what they do. Through our own narcissistic behaviour we can understand those with NPD, but our narcissistic behaviour does not mean we’re narcissists. And it doesn’t mean that others who are behaving narcissistically are narcissists.
Someone with NPD may look the same as someone being narcissistic, but they are not the same. Not everyone who looks like Bin Laden is Bin Laden or is like him.
And not all narcissistic traits and behaviours are a bad thing. Many are actually good and useful.
Most things have to go to extremes before a balance is found, and I think that’s what is happening now, we’re visiting an extreme. Balance will come. We’ve been to the Me Me Me end of things, now we’re in the You You You end of things, at some point we’ll get to the Me and You part.
In the meantime, if someone calls you a narcissist, thank them for the information (about them and their view of you), and stay true to yourself. And if you’re the one calling yourself a narcissist, thank yourself for asking the question as you’ve just shown yourself that you’re not.
And thank you for reading my blog and liking my writing, means a lot to me, always surprises me ❤
I love what you wrote about needing to go to the other extreme end of Me, Me, Me on the road to recovery from narcissism and vulnerability to narcissists. If we didn’t have the wound in the first place we wouldn’t be vulnerable to being hooked. In the case of my ex I clocked the wound and my first impulse was to run a mile but I got hooked by his rejection of my vulnerability, I had to prove I wasn’t vulnerable which was a lie and he could never accept his own vulnerability so how could he ever accept mine, it was doomed to fail and hurt a lot in the failing but I allowed myself to be hooked by a repeat of an old pattern which I had not yet fully addressed or gained deep awareness into. If we have been alienated from Me or Self and told it should not be what it is we kinda believe it but on some level we don’t and that hurts and there is a fight like the one with the wall you posted on one image on this blog, you may as well hit your head against it, its the same thing as trying to get a narcissist to love and affirm you. In healing we need to come to really know and love me, me, me for that is the basis of a true love for others that is not narcissistic so we can understand other you’s who may be the same or different to us. But the healing seems to start with self acceptance and self love which is something the narcissist is not capable of as they live behind the persona and wall the hurt up behind it, exactly as you said. I do think they are aware on some level of what they hide but they fear it being seen…to think its all innocent can be huge mistake, we end up cutting them slack and getting hurt ourselves, but it takes a long time to see this, in my experience.
The comment of that mother showed this dynamic. May as well not express want for what you want as wanting is doomed to end in frustration, due to being active thwarted told you don’t want/need it. My mother tells this story of how as a toddler she took me shopping and I grabbed onto a ball which I wanted and would not let go and then threw a tantrum outside the shoo at not being able to have it and how embarrassed she was (she had me on a lead at the time in a brace with a lead attached). When I heard that story I thought, why wouldn’t you just let the child have the ball? These days if I want something an argument goes on inside my head, do I really need it? is it necessary, would I be too disadvantaged if I did not buy it…etc etc etc. I’m making some ground up with this but like you I find it hard to see kids being actively thwarted. Reminds me of that scene described by Alice Miler in the Drama of Being A Child where the parent taunts the child and shows contempt and frustrates the child when he expresses the desire to have a bite of the icecream his father is eating. These are things we don’t remember always consciously but our deeper psyche remembers and leave powerful imprints for a child.
Thank you 🙂
I’m not a parent so there are a lot of things which I don’t understand about the parent/child dynamic. I’m not responsible 24/7 for a tiny being who relies on me completely for everything, and I don’t have to rearrange my entire life around all the things a parent has to do for a child for the next 18 years and the rest of their life. I have missed out on the experience of being stressed out and tired all the time, and terrified of doing it all wrong and being a bad parent who one day finds out their child hates them.
I think being a parent is one of the most difficult experiences in the human range of experiences, and parents may end up making a mess while trying to get things right.
They sometimes read parenting advice books or get advice from others which may undermine their own instincts, and not buying you the ball is the sort of thing which our parents’ generation would have been advised to do so as not to spoil you. Spoiling and pampering children was frowned upon when we were kids. My mother was given an instruction pamphlet by the hospital when she gave birth which advised her to ignore her baby when it cried during the night so that it would not get used to having its every cry answered. And of course our parents had parents, and our grandparents’ generation were much harder, stricter on children. I liked the way that Alice Miller describes the generational effect of parental roles and behaviours.
Did your mother ever explain her reason for not buying the ball?
You’re right, those sort of incidents imprint themselves in our psyche. A child experiences things in a way that we forget when we grow up. For an adult, the ball would have just been a ball, and wanting it would have been seen as a whim by the adult as they use adult reasoning, but for a child that ball was everything in that moment and not having it was the end of the world. We rarely forget our end of the world experiences. They are part of what shapes us.
Glad to hear you’re letting yourself have the ball!
Awesome post. It really describes my narcissistic ex-wife and me too! I do tend to continue to con myself. I am working on it though. Posts like this help me to remember.
Thank you very much 🙂
It’s easy to con ourselves, I catch myself doing it all the time. When I do it with a product, then I learn my lesson quickly and usually there is little harm done. However, when I do it with a person, then it sometimes takes ages to admit to myself that I’ve done it, and I may keep up the con for a while, using reasoning, explanations, excuses.
I did that recently with my mother, I kept hoping she’d be less of a narcissist even though I knew that she’d actually gotten worse with age, but I had been NC for years and a lot of her behaviour had drifted to the back of my mind and gathered dust. Since the situation which caused her return was fairly straightforward, I used faulty logic to back up my con. I kept saying to myself – Well, any sane person in this situation would do this, and she might be sane for once in her life, she has mustered some sanity in the past and done things without creating a complicated drama, and surely she’d want to resolve things as fast as possible.
Luckily I didn’t really believe myself, so it allowed me to observe my own behaviour and examine it. I blogged a lot during that time which helped me to get more perspective on my inner workings, and related a few stories about our relationship which reminded me what she was truly like and how unlikely it was that she would ever behave rationally. The situation is still not sorted out thanks to her commitment to doing things the narcissist’s way.
It’s important to remember, but sometimes it really hurts to do that even though it is also where our healing resides.
Take care of yourself.
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I was really affected by this post. It communicates extremely well the pain you experienced as you grew up at the hand of narcissism. You’re a wonderful person, Ursula, and I know that you have worked hard to be your own kind of wonderful for yourself. 🙂
Thank you very much 🙂 I need to learn how to do the blushing emoticon, you’re always saying such lovely things to me!
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I must ask my Mum why she did not choose to buy me the ball. But I do think your comment about their generation is so spot on. I really feel for Mum at times as she received very little from her own mother in terms of being told she was loved and valued, so considering that she did all she could and knew how to do. There is so much work to do on changing the inner self talk we have inside our heads following this kind of self denying childhood. Sorry it took a few days to get back. My internet connection went down for a week (and Mercury wasn’t even retrograde, yet 🙂 )
Mercury is coming up retro any day now… I’ve given up keeping track of it!
I think it helps when healing from our own wounds to be aware that those who wounded us were often doing so because of their own wounds which may have come from the generation before that and/or from societal wounds, etc… it doesn’t excuse what they did to us, it just may help us to understand which helps us to recover.
Whenever I think of what my parents did to me, I like to remind myself of This be the Verse by Philip Larkin.
” They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.”
It’s a bit extreme, but it kind of captures the concept 🙂
I do understand as I also chose not to have children for this very reason. I feel a little sad about it at times but at least I didn’t pass anything on to the next generation.
There is a lot to come out of this that can be positive though. Its so hard to get at times that it wasn’t intentional on their part and yet it still fucking hurts and the repercussions are so hard to come to terms with understand and do something about. Is it enough just to know? I still haven’t had a healthy relationship with a partner but I hope it could happen. I think after years and years of anger and tears some kind of strange alchemy happens and you finally get it that it is what it is. But I know you know all this maybe even better than I. 🙂
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