Posts Tagged ‘Narcissism’

Just Me First, Alone

June 14, 2016

I’ll never learn to be just me first, by myself. — Carly Simon

There was a young man. He had never seen a picture of himself. Obviously this story takes place long before selfies when we broadcast our pictures to the world ad nauseam. But really, he had never seen himself. Then, looking into a still pond, he saw a young man so beautiful that he had to meet him. He could not, of course. He fell in love with his own reflection. His love for himself killed him. His name was Narcissus.

I guess this selfie craze reveals much about us at this time. Of course, it’s partly because it’s new technology. But, do you know anyone who seems overboard with pictures of themselves, by themselves?

Have you ever been around someone who talks on and on about themselves and the people and events that affect them? You try to interject–even just words of understanding or acknowledgement–and then realize that they aren’t listening to you. They are wrapped up in themselves.

Have you ever been in a group when two or more talk about themselves and their lives–at the same time? And they don’t seem to notice that no one is listening?

None of us lives to ourselves alone. — Paul, Romans 14:7

The ancient Greeks were excellent observers of personality types. The myth of Narcissus lent the name to a current personality disorder–Narcissism. Popularly, the term broadens to those who perhaps don’t qualify for diagnosis but are still annoying.

Paul, no stranger to those Greek myths himself, knew that there is a danger lurking in the depths of our hearts when we focus too much on ourselves.

He was teaching us at that point in Romans after he had built up the argument to the introduction of grace and then answered the question, “So, what?” His teaching was that now that we are living in grace, we don’t live for ourselves. We live for God. We also live for others–look at his words of having empathy for others in the same chapter.

Paul never stopped with the self-centered thought–It’s all about me and my salvation. That was only the beginning. Life is what happens next. And that is about how you love and serve others.

Is It All About Me

January 12, 2016

You deserve everything. Go for everything you want. You deserve it. — Horoscope

Horoscopes these days seem a little like “Dear Abby” advice. Some days when I’m a little bored, I scan the horoscopes for a chuckle. The other day, the one above was mine.

Many books have been written analyzing the mental health disease of our age, the conclusion–narcissism. Narcissists view others from the point of view of how others impact them. “Did you see what she did to me?” Not just “did you see what she did?”

There’s a lot of “I deserve it” attitude. “I’m entitled.”

Jesus said (Luke 14), “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

What he’s asking us is who’s in charge. Am I all in for myself? Or, am I all  in for Jesus? Who is first?

Someone who truly has narcissism personality disorder won’t be changed by a blog post or by reading some words of Jesus.

The rest of us can read and learn. Jesus did change some people’s focus. They learned to start considering others first. They learned that it is not all about themselves.

Sometimes we need a reminder. Our first response might be for our own comfort or desires. Then we remember.

As we serve others once, then twice, then eventually it becomes habit. Habits build character. It becomes our nature–who we are. We are people who consider others first.


Listening: Leadership Trait and Narcissism Cure

August 28, 2015

Is there a narcissist in your life?

If you live in the West, especialy in America, the odds favor a yes answer. One hopes that the person is not your boss. I further hope the person is not you! (But if it is, you’re not aware of it.)

There are a few in my life. I asked a therapist (my daughter) about what the DSM says. She said there is no known cure. Either live with it or avoid them.

Jenny Dyer writing on Donald Miller’s Storyline Blog came up with some interesting thoughts. Not valid cures at this point, but interesting thoughts.

I have written several times about listening and how it’s a great leadership trait to develop. It may go deeper than that.

Dyer writes, “In the recent HBO hit series, “In Treatment,” Gabriel Byrnes discusses his role as a psychotherapist.”

He notes, “Listening, I think, is one of the most profound compliments that you can pay to another person. To truly listen and to feel that you’re heard is deeply fulfilling in a deep human way.” This awareness of listening is an act of empathy.

Hearing the story of another human, and deeply listening to that story, is an act of compassion, altruism, and love. It involves losing yourself and experiencing a “vicarious introspection” into the life of another human being.

To truly hear a story is an act of empathy. 

Neurological studies show that altruism is actually a biological response, hard-wired into the brain.

In fact, acts of generosity, empathy, or altruism light up a primitive part of the brain that is usually associated with pleasurable actions like eating good food or sex.

They might actually cure narcissism.

So if you’re starting to fear you’re a little too self-absorbed, stop to listen, think about others instead, and give generously with what you have.

Ironically, in combating narcissism through empathy, the individual who has long suffered from narcissism actually secures the greatest win—a pleasurable biological response—when focused on others.

Reflecting on that idea, it came to me that he may be on to something. I think I have witnessed that in a couple of lives. Maybe more. Something broke through their consciousness. They started to actually think about other people. Give money, time, gifts.

In none of the cases was it a total cure. But it was an improvement.

So if you are feeling a bit too self-absorbed. Or maybe someone you know is. Try breaking through the fog and just try listening to someone with no thought about what you might say. If a thought comes to mind about your experience to share with the other, say to yourself, “It’s really not that important. Let’s listen to the other person.”

You can learn a lot just by listening to someone else.

The Love Language of Receiving

April 7, 2015

Her love language is receiving. She just loves to receive things. If you wish to fill up her emotional love tank, then continually give her things.

I heard a message on that subject and expressed shock. People told me to read the book by Dr. Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages.

I did.

It’s all about attitude. The spirit with which you give…and receive. Much like the teachings of the spiritual disciplines which say that practicing the spiritual disciplines are not “works” that lead you to salvation but practices that will help you get closer to God.

Still, I wonder.

We live in an age of narcissism. An age of entitlement. For so many people, it’s “all about me” and what I can get. “I’m entitled to everything I have–and more. Just because I’m daddy’s little princesses or mommy’s little boy.”

For those who aren’t on the entitlement side of narcissism, there is the empty part. Those for whom it’s all about me but I’m empty. I need things to fill it. Each thing I purchase or receive fails to fill the void. I need more. But the more I have, the emptier I feel.

What stands out for me is that receiving is passive. Quality time is active. Physical intimacy is active. Service is active. Receiving is passive. Giving, on the other hand, is active. That’s where I thought he was going in the beginning of the book.

I’m sure this item has helped many. I think it’s dangerous in today’s societies. Be careful about the love language of receiving. Is it a void that can never be filled?

Are You Emotionally Intelligent

September 26, 2014

My recent reading has turned up some new thoughts on emotional intelligence. I thought I would focus on two traits this morning. Self-aware and Empathetic.

I think these go together.

To be self-aware means that we can see ourselves as others see us. I can still remember one of those experiences when I was perhaps 11 or 12. I was doing one of those “boy” things and had a vision seeing myself from the outside. And how stupid I was. There have been other occurrences since I provide plenty of stupidity times.

A good time to actually try to do this is while in a queue at an airline counter when all the flights are cancelled. You see yourself being less than kind to the poor gate agent–the only person who can help you.

This leads to empathy–a trait lacking in the narcissistic among us. Seeing the whole incident from outside ourselves, so to speak, allows us to see the other person as a fellow human being with feelings just like us.

A narcissistic person (one who is self-absorbed) will tend to look at the situation as one where someone else can help me or hinder me. An empathetic person begins to feel what the other person is going through. Our feelings mesh with theirs. It’s not just about us anymore. It’s about us.

Just today someone told me about a terrible hurt from an incident of many years ago. It still hurts. It hurt me to think about it.

Perhaps today we can try self-awareness and empathy. Life is so much better that way.

Pride Or Wisdom

August 14, 2014

I, Wisdom, live with prudence,
and I attain knowledge and discretion.
The fear of The Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
–Proverbs 8:12-13

So many things that we do in life that separate us from God have their root cause in pride and arrogance. Solomon knew this 3,000 years ago.

As we grow older, we often begin to attain knowledge and discretion. Some don’t. And young people (we’ve all been there) think they have already attained knowledge. But living with God, eventually you look at people in their 30s and 40s who are striving against others for wealth and power–if even only on a relative scale.

Then we look back at those years and those who are there now and understand.

Where does pride leave self-assurance and go too far? Some of us are brought up in households of insecurity and low self-esteem. Where is it that we gain confidence and then where when we go too far and become filled with pride.

It is where you stop living with-God. It is where you put yourself first. Thinking only of yourself. Your desires. Your comfort.

How do you know that you are not in that place of separation from God? It’s when your heart and actions are for the benefit of others. When you listen to what God wants you to do–and then you do it. Humbly–that means thinking of others with no thought of your own gain.

When we arrive at that place, it is like a great weight has disappeared from our shoulders. We live free.

Maybe for some of us, this is a life-long struggle. We have been living in an age of Narcissism. It is all around us. Messages from advertisers and news reports and peers all whisper that we exist only to satisfy our own desires. Breaking free of that is not easy. But it is necessary to achieve the with-God life. And be free.