I See Myself, Therefore I am

Narcissus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my first entry I discussed the fear that can permeate life and how it is often viewed in a negative light. Like most things in life, however, it is both good and bad. Fear and a lack of trust in my own judgement lead me to an entanglement with a narcissist, but before I got there, the groundwork had to be laid. People don’t become the targets of narcissists overnight. There is a long apprenticeship program that precedes it; there is a softening up which allows the object of a narcissist to rationalize, to make excuses, to minimalize the behaviours that define the narcissist. I have come to realize that there were at least three people in my life and one in particular who exposed me to the normalizing of narcissistic behaviours.

Before I get to a discussion of them, however, I need to start going over the definition of what a narcissist is. I’ll caution you that this is my definition, borne out of experience, reading, thinking and discussion, and involves multiple parts. It is very personal, but because narcissists are such a “type”, you will be able to decide if this describes someone who is either already in your life, or whom you have reservations about admitting to your life.

That statement leads me to a digression, but an important one – if you suspect that a narcissist is trying to become a part of your life, slow down now. Even if you have only the tiniest suspicion, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of taking your time to determine if this person is someone whom you can ultimately trust. If the person is opposed to slowing down, beware, because that’s enough of a reason to question the speed with which this person is trying to enter your life, and frankly, if you’re reading this because you’re worried about a possible involvement with a narcissist, then there’s a good chance that you probably are.

The original Greek story from which we derive the term narcissist concerns a young man named Narcissus who falls in love with his own reflection. Because he cannot stop looking at himself, he eventually dies and turns into a narcissus flower, the name of those same beautiful blooms that we see around every spring. It’s important to note, however, that he falls in love with his reflection, not with himself.  Narcissists do not feel that they have an inner core; they essentially see themselves as completely empty inside. This is why they focus so intently on exteriors. To them, if it looks good, then it is good.

They devote huge amounts of time to “assessing” the perceptions of others; their conclusions are that others see them in the most positive of lights: they are handsome/beautiful, they are smart, they dress well, they are cool, they drive the most interesting cars, their homes are showplaces, they are smart, their partners are good-looking and also dress well; did I mention that they are smart?

For the narcissist, there are two types of people: himself, and everyone else who wishes they were him. When narcissists return from outings, they report numerous examples of people gazing admiringly at them and their partners, of people approaching them for dates or complimenting them about their looks or clothes, of people hanging on their every golden word and opinion. It’s unlikely that any of this is true; the problem is that they often convince themselves and attempt to convince others that it’s true.

When kissing a partner in public they put on a show worthy of Hollywood. The act of sending flowers must be concluded in some forum such as the workplace so that colleagues and associates can see how expensive the flowers are and can comment about what a great guy he is for sending them.

They are so self-absorbed that in short, unless someone is looking at them, paying attention to them, complimenting them, they don’t exist. Thinking is useless.

The serious Darth Vaderesque dark side to all this is that for them, constant attention validates their existence, and the worst part is that they project this belief; for them, everyone else operates the same way that they do.

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