Grinning Bear It

Yes, I know, the title of this post is cringeworthy… unless you think it’s great, then in which case it’s great, isn’t it! and I won’t explain why I think it’s cringeworthy because then it might alter your great view of it.

That’s something worth remembering when interacting with others, especially with new people who are just getting to know you – that you can alter and influence their view of you.

I’m not giving a lesson on how to be a narcissist, how to manipulate people’s perception of you to maintain a certain image, facade, although it could be viewed and used that way.

This is a view from the mistake-making mess side.

If you, like me, are the sort of person who gets a bit uncomfortable when others have a positive view of you, when they compliment you, when they like something about you and point it out to you…

And you react to the discomfort you feel by correcting their view, adjusting their lens, removing their rose-coloured glasses or tinting them blue, by telling them lots of negatives about yourself…

And then you end up wondering why others have such a negative view of you…

And it makes you feel bad to be with them whereas once upon a time you felt good…

And you ask – Why did they change? When did they change?

Or you conclude that – There, you see, I was right about me and they were wrong, and now they know how wrong they were because they have the right view now!

But being right in that way feels somehow not right at all, doesn’t it? Sometimes it is better to be wrong.

This is a mistake I have made repeatedly throughout life, in relationships and other human interactions.

I’ve been aware of it for many years, I just could never figure out how to stop making the mistake until recently. I still make the mistake, just not as regularly as before. I mostly stop myself by asking myself – Do I really need to say that about myself?

For instance…

They say: “You’re so beautiful!” and this makes you painfully self-conscious, and anxious about the pressure to live up to their image of you, to be beautiful, you don’t feel that you’re beautiful, it’s uncomfortable to have to deal with the clash between their view and your view…

So to relieve the pain you say: “No, I’m not, my teeth are crooked.”

And they might say: “Oh, you’re right, I hadn’t noticed your teeth, oh, they are rather crooked… but you’re still beautiful to me!”

And you might say: “My left eye is slightly cross-eyed…”

So they take a closer look at you…

You adjusted their what they see and how they view it.

And over time your negative view replaces their positive view without them or you necessarily being aware of it, of what is happening between you, and they may end up reinforcing your negative view of yourself.

Or perhaps they are aware of it and gradually get fed up of their positive view of you being constantly rejected by you. You make them feel bad about themselves, stupid, foolish whenever they share a positive they see in you with you… and that changes their view of you. The beauty they saw in you fades out and something else fades into view, they begin to see you as… you see yourself.

Which view is the right view? Who is seeing the real you?

I was thinking about that this morning while wondering about those I feel drawn to and why am I drawn to them, and how my perception of them changes as I get to know them, especially through their own words about themselves.

Then I happened to read the following article:

Why Do We Like Narcissists (Initially)?: We like narcissists because we assume they have high self-esteem by Arash Emamzadeh

The article discusses a study which was conducted on test subjects called “perceivers” using photographs and different types of information about those chosen to be “targets” – perceived by the perceivers.

“Why do people think narcissists have very high self-esteem?

One possibility is that people believe narcissism equals very high self-esteem. So once they perceive narcissism in an individual (e.g., notice the person is acting selfishly), they assume the individual must have very high self-esteem.

A second possibility concerns cues (e.g., fashionable clothes, showing cleavage, certain hairstyles and facial details like distinct eyebrows) related to narcissism, which give the impression of higher self-esteem. Yet research shows that wearing expensive clothing or showing cleavage is more strongly associated with narcissism (the entitlement/exploitativeness component in particular) than with self-esteem.5 A third explanation is that narcissists desperately want to be liked, so they try to appear more self-confident than is really the case.

Let us consider one last interpretation of the relation between narcissism and high self-esteem, one involving perceivers themselves: Since narcissists are initially popular in social circles and have a greater number of (superficial) connections than others, perceivers may be motivated to view narcissists more positively than they should because they hope by associating with narcissists, they too can attain a similar social status.

excerpt from Why Do We Like Narcissists (Initially)?: We like narcissists because we assume they have high self-esteem by Arash Emamzadeh

I have a bugbear about people referring to other people as “targets” since to me that objectifies people, literally turning them into an object, a thing, so they’re not perceived as living beings anymore… it’s okay to throw darts and arrows at them, break and damage them because they’re just things which can be replaced by other things if need be.

But that is a science experiment and scientists are notoriously callous about their test subjects. I guess they wouldn’t be able to carry out their experiments if they saw their test subjects as people, as human beings like they are, if they empathised with them… all objectivity flies out of the window (unless there are no windows, but there must be a door or how did everyone get in… is the lab sealed like a tomb once everyone is inside? How do they get out?).

I have to admit that I am often drawn to narcissistic people and I’ve been trying to figure out why for years.

Funnily enough, after I’d had that thought and then read that article… I noticed that one of my old posts had had 60 views today.

The Love Bombing Issue

It’s not one of the usual old posts which gets regular views.

Frankly I’d forgotten about it, and was a bit confused. What’s that, did I write a post with that title? I must have done since it’s here, but I dislike that term – why would I use it as a title and write about it? Was I being all contrary again? Was it a rant? Oh, I hope what I wrote is okay…

I did a bit of investigation and, thanks to the “Referrers” segment of the stats, found it had been shared on a Facebook public group for NPD Survivors.

NPD Survivors – (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) public group | Facebook

It is a long post, and I only reread some of it from bottom to top because I find it easier to read long posts that way around, and if I’m rereading one of mine it stops me from going – “Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah…” and not rereading it because I have a fairly good idea of what I said, particularly if what I said is something I still think – if it isn’t then I may be surprised, pleasantly or unpleasantly.

It’s a rather good post.

The reason I’m surprised when my old posts are quite good is because I know what I was going through when I wrote them, and I’m not sure how I managed to be so clear when things were very confusing at the time. Writing those posts helped me to clear my confusion… and they were written as I figured personal complex puzzles out bit by bit.

In The Love Bombing Issue I explored why narcissists are attractive…

Warning: I’m about to do something rather narcissistic and share an excerpt from one of my own posts:

“Have you ever met someone with whom you wanted to spend all of your time. You just can’t get enough of them, you want to be with them as often as possible because being with them is so wonderful. You want to talk with them, call, message, text, email them as often as possible. The sound of their voice, the way they express themselves, the look in their eyes, the way they see you, their touch, their presence, the feel of them, how they feel about you make you feel good about yourself, about life, about them.

They reflect you back at yourself and what you see in that reflection of self is beautiful – you look and feel as though sunshine is pouring out from within. You’re glowing all over!

They inspire you with love for yourself and loving yourself makes you love them.
It’s rather addictive to love yourself, the world inside and outside seems happier, you get along better with everyone, and everything flows more harmoniously, the people and things which used to bother you don’t bother you as much as they used to, you can shrug it all off more easily because you feel healthier, stronger, wiser, resilient, you bounce… and since you connect all of this with them, you may become addicted to them, perhaps even a little bit obsessed with them, but in a good way. They’re good for you!

Sure you could probably love yourself, feel this way, without anyone else’s help, but that’s rather challenging to do… the instructions for doing it are complex… like trying to put a piece of furniture together, there are all these separate bits and pieces which are supposed to fit together, there are tools to do it, illustrations showing how, words explaining the process, it’s supposed to be easy, take only an hour, but somehow… try as you might again and again, you’re a failure at it (and you’re not supposed to say that, think it… so you’ve failed there too).”

excerpt from The Love Bombing Issue

And yes, I know I don’t warn you every time I’m about to do something narcissistic, that’s partly because I don’t realise it is until afterwards if I realise it is… and it would be tiresome, there would be warnings all over the place.

But is that narcissistic? Is it good narcissistic or bad narcissistic or grey area narcissistic?

I think I read that it was possibly not good narcissistic somewhere, but where?

Oh, yes, it was in that excellent article by Dr. Thomas Swan:

“The placement of the writer’s own quotes onto images to `immortalize’ them.”

excerpt from Online Narcissism: Writers with NPD by Dr. Thomas Swan

Hmmm… I think I may have done the above at some point in my blogging journey, back when a lot of bloggers were doing it. It may have been something suggested in one of those How-To-Blog posts written by a blogger who was doing it and getting lots of traffic to their blog because of it. I could check my media file, but… it doesn’t matter since if I did try it out I obviously decided not to keep doing it.

I’m kind of tempted to do it again or do it if I didn’t do it before just because… why? Contrariness? Probably that.

Anyway he doesn’t seem to mention excerpting your own posts in your posts as being narcissistic, so where did I hear that? In my own head perhaps?

Isn’t it weird how the same thing can be perceived differently and have different meanings for all those who look at it.

This is actually a two-part post. I’ve already written most of part two, in fact part two was the whole post until I reread what I had written and added what has now become part one. Don’t worry if that’s confusing, it doesn’t matter. Part two has bears in it… hence the title Grinning Bear It.

I guess astrologers writing about the Mars in Libra square Saturn in Capricorn transit this weekend were right about it… except I’m not experiencing or perceiving it quite like they interpreted and perceived it. Saturn in Capricorn basically took one look at the long post I was writing, reminded me that I said I would “shorten some of my posts” and told me to split this into two – like the two scales on the Libra symbol.

13 comments

  1. Negative self talk is the clinical term for that first point you made – why do ‘we’ sabotage others’ good opinions of ourselves? It’s a skill to learn NOT to do that, and I personally think those of us with the worst cases of it are victims (bad choice of word, but it’s apt I think) of NPD persons or persons with BPD (the milder sister/brother to NPD). I caught myself doing that – pointing out my flaws to anyone who gave me a compliment. Now I just say thank you and let it go. I’m still as uncomfortable because surely the compliment giver must be blind in one eye and perception challenged in the other one…
    “Why do people think narcissists have very high self-esteem? Isn’t there a component of the mythology/fable/lore in the public opinion of what a narcissist IS? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissus_(mythology) – The legend says that Narcissus was a hunter of such great beauty that he fell in love with himself and hurt others because they weren’t as perfect as he perceived himself to be.

    MAYBE narcissists have really shitty self esteem, but I wonder how anyone finds that out? The only one I know personally would NEVER admit a flaw or failing on her part, and would eat alive anybody who tried to point one out. One primary goal of the narcissist (as you pointed out) is to APPEAR perfect and to eliminate (in a way) any competition that they are the very very best of all, by brutalizing those close to them.

    I too will look forward to Part II and yeah, I’m grinning and will bear it… 😉

    Like

    • Thank you very much, Melanie 🙂

      Excellent points and food for deep thought! See, you do swim in the depths and are a very good swimmer. Pisces has the ability to do both – be comfortable in the shallows and in the uncomfortable depths, that’s why the symbol for the sign has two fishes swimming in opposite directions.

      That’s a superb question – MAYBE narcissists have really shitty self esteem, but I wonder how anyone finds that out?

      I was pondering the concept of self-esteem after reading that article, it’s similar to the concept of self-confidence… where do we get our definitions for those? Who tells us what they are and is their version of it right? That’s one of the things which used to cause a lot of confusion for me – other people’s descriptions of self-esteem and self-confidence. Their descriptions of what self-esteem or self-confidence should feel like, how it should be experienced by you, and what it should look like when you or someone else has it.

      Based on their descriptions of self-esteem… I don’t have it. But if I delete their version of it from my mind, create a blank space and ask myself to form my own description of it, then the confusion clears.

      Narcissists take the general consensus descriptions of self-esteem and self-confidence, focus on how it is supposed to appear on the outside so that others think you have it, and then they wear that appearance. They also mimic people who are considered to be models of self-confidence and self-esteem. So if a person with self-esteem appears to be flawless, then that’s how the narcissist behaves. If self-confidence appears to be about never admitting you’re wrong and always being right (even if you’re wrong) then that’s what the narcissist does.

      At first we take them at face value – they appear to have self-esteem and self-confidence – but the longer we spend time with them, observe them, we begin to notice cracks in the face they’re wearing. Something feels off, things don’t add up – if they’re so confident and are full of self-esteem why are they so touchy, so defensive, so quick to attack others, so abusive… that doesn’t seem like something someone with genuine self-esteem and self-confidence would need to be.

      I think we realise the difference between the facade of self-esteem/self-confidence and the genuine versions of those because of how those who have them make us feel in the long term when we interact with them. Those who are faking it tend to make us feel bad about ourselves, their lower and crush our self-esteem and confidence, whereas those who genuinely have it make us feel good about ourselves, the elevate our own self-confidence and self-esteem just by being with them.

      It’s best summed up by the Maya Angelou quote – “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

      Like

  2. Grinning bear or grinning bare? Hmmmm…

    What’s that? Yeah, wait for the rest. Thinking about where the road may lead is fun but can lead to fatigue, then I’d be too tired to enjoy the rest of the journey. Right.

    Yes, I hear you Arnold…😉

    Like

  3. I would rather grin and beer it. 😉

    I’ve been thinking about your comment that you are drawn to narcissists and have been trying to figure that out for a long time. I have two ideas about that; the first one is a bit obvious and I am reasonably sure you have already considered it, but maybe you haven’t and so here it is: could it be that you are sort of “negatively comfortable” with narcissists because you know them so well? You know what they are and what they will do; you can predict their behaviours and you know how to handle them.

    And secondly (and somewhat related to the first idea), I was reminded of a saying that M uses: if the only tool you have is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. You have hard-won expertise in this area (your hammer) and you can easily spot the nails sticking out. Are you actually drawn to them or is it that you easily recognise them? (Btw, it’s not my intention to suggest that your only talent is recognising and dealing with narcissism. 🙂 )

    Great post. 🙂

    Like

    • Thank you, Lynette 🙂

      That – “your only talent is recognising and dealing with narcissism” – is a rather useful talent, non?

      Don’t worry, I get what you’re saying, and I didn’t twist it up in my head to get all touchy-sensitive angry-hurt about it 😉

      Like you, I’m an INTP, and I like to explore personal puzzles and the associated questions from as many angles and perspectives as possible to get a more whole picture. The way I’m asking the question about being drawn to narcissists now is not the way I asked it before. I have collected many answers along the way, and shared them in posts like the Love Bombing one. I’ve written about being comfortable with narcissists, and seeing narcissists everywhere. Those are insightful optional answers and have helped me along the way to shift in my drawn to narcissists puzzle from what drew me to them before to where I am now with the question.

      Where I am now with the question of being drawn to narcissists is more detached and intrigued, rather than bemoaning my fate 😉 It’s in some ways more about finding the positive reasons for the gravitational pull than the negative reasons which was what I explored before. Using the narc-draw as a reflective surface for something good rather than bad.

      One of the threads of answer I’m exploring now is to do with – risk – narcissists take certain self-expression risks which non-narcissists are more hesitant to take. Non-narcissists play it safe, and this can dull their inner shine. Whereas narcissists are desperate to shine and shine as brightly as possible, and so they don’t play it safe. So they sparkle more. However their sparkle isn’t always theirs, they’re magpies, and is one of those – Don’t go towards the light! – type of lights. I’m looking for the mean (sweet spot) between two sides of the equation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was fairly certain you had thought of these ideas or something close to them. ;:) I like the description you give in the last paragraph of your comment – “don’t go towards the light” type of light. Very appropriate for Halloween and the idea that narcissists are always wearing costumes. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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