Narcissism and You (Part 2)

(and why everyone is so unhappy)

In part 1 I covered the basics of what narcissism is. If you read the Wikipedia page on narcissism you’ll see a bunch of different types of narcissism, but they are all based on the different effects of narcissism. The varied ways that it manifests.

Wait, so what’s wrong with thinking I’m great? Nothing, if you are actually great. But, if you aren’t “great” and you spend all of your time trying to project yourself as being great – if all your resources are spent trying to convince everyone of how “great” you are – then you’ve got a serious problem.

This blog entry needs examples!

I’m sure you could figure this out, but I’m going to cover the basic examples first… douche bags.

I have a feeling you may be a douche.

Let’s start with the “Jersey Shore” douche. Not specifically the people on the show Jersey Shore, but the type of person they represent. Why not the kids on the show? It’s on TV, it isn’t real, not even when they call it reality. I’d dye myself orange and wear Ed Hardy too if someone paid me 30k an episode (but I’m a whore).

Anyway, why the orange tan, big muscles, Ed Hardy clothes, crazy hair, etc.? Is it because they think it looks good? I’m going to guess they never really thought about it that way. Is it because girls like it? Some do, but that’s not the point. Here is the deal, they want to date hot girls, but don’t think that hot girls would go for the real them. Some where, some how, they became convinced that the “type” of hot girls they wanted to date only went for that “type” of guy. The type part is important. They cast themselves in a movie where the cool dude gets the hot girl. It’s their internal struggle with not feeling good enough to get the girl as themselves that causes them to behave this way. So, either consciously or unconsciously, they decide to try and trick the girls into thinking they are “that guy.”

Why do they keep doing this? It works – kind of. Some girls do fall for it, but I’m going to guess it is because the girls are too busy thinking about themselves to notice the act. These girls are probably busy playing the same game. High heels to make them look taller and thinner, makeup to hide their features, breast implants – because they think guys find giant fake boobs sexy.

Can you guess why divorce rates are so high?

Okay, that one was sort of a softball. Let’s talk about the business douche!

Everyone knows the guy, bought a house he could barely afford, wears only the finest Italian suits, drives a car with a monthly payment that could feed a small village… but he is only middle management. Meanwhile he is spiraling into debt, barely holding his family life together and taking a handful of antidepressants every day. It’s difficult keeping up with the Joneses. So why bother? This guy has it in his head that being a man means being successful. He was never sure what success meant though, so he ended up just emulating other successful people. There is a reason they are called Status Symbols and not just Status. Anyone can buy things.

Why is his family life falling apart? Because all his energy is spent keeping up the appearance of his success, so he is ignoring them. He probably also married his counterpart – the girl who wants to be with the most powerful man. Hopefully you can imagine her reasons by now. Either way, she was probably too worried about how her husband appeared to ever get to know him. That would mean connecting – but she spends all her time trying to convince her girl friends how awesome her life is. If he lost his job? Divorce. His whole identity of the successful business-man would be ruined and he’d nosedive into depression (or worse) – and she can’t be seen with a loser. Maybe she cheats first, maybe he shoots her then himself – after all, once he loses his hot wife, his whole identity is gone.

That last part is called Narcissistic Rage and it is the result of a Narcissistic Injury. Remember it! That is usually why seemingly normal people end up doing very horrible things. The news will never say it, because they have their own shit to sell, but that is almost always the reason. Trust me, I’m a blogger.

“If narcissism is the exertion of will towards the maintenance of ego– trying to get everyone to see you the way you want to be seen, and to get them to act the way you need them to act– then a narcissistic injury would be the discovery of the limitations of your own power.”

The Last Psychiatrist

There are times to be angry, but they need to be proportional to the cause of the anger. If you have ever witnessed someone exhibit intense rage for what appeared to you to be no reason, this is it. Something happened that opposed their preferred reality. Something happened that showed their constructed identity for what it was, fake.

“When you find yourself hating someone (who did not directly hurt you) with blinding rage, know for certain that it is not the person you hate at all, but rather something about them that threatens your identity.  Find that thing.  This single piece of advice can turn your life around, I guarantee it.”

– The Last Psychiatrist

Think about that. Think about yourself.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

Carl Jung

And then there is the age old advice:

“Know Thyself”

– Someone, probably in Ancient Greece.

It’s okay, God knows I’m a good person… Really, which God did you pick, the one that thinks like you? Don’t you think an all-knowing being could tell if you are faking it?

Why do you think the military tries so hard to break a recruit down during basic training, only to build them back up? The military doesn’t need a bunch of teenagers playing soldier – they need actual soldiers. They have their work cut out for them.

When it comes to self-knowledge, it really is all about you. No one can tell you who you are – and you can’t tell anyone else who you are. No one cares what you say. You are defined solely by your actions. It does not matter what anyone else thinks of you. Learn to enjoy who you are. Throw away all the extra baggage that our society has heaped upon you – it does not make you. “Be yourself” is the best and hardest advice you’ll ever follow.

If you want to read more about narcissism (and I think you should) – you can check out the Wikipedia page, but I’d really suggest you start reading The Last Psychiatrist, specifically the posts tagged with Narcissism. There is a good chance I have no clue what I’m talking about, but he does.

Note: I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist, nor have I played one on TV.

Narcissism and You

(and why everyone is so unhappy)

I think when most people think of narcissism, they think – egotist – someone who thinks they are greater than they really are. While on the surface the two seem the same, they are in fact quite different. It’s all about perception. You got the egotist right, they really do think they are great, but you’ve got the narcissist all wrong.

Narcissism is in all of us, to varying degrees. A little of it is a good thing; too much of it can kill, literally. It’s the “too much” variety that you need to be aware of.

The best description I’ve ever read was: to a narcissist, reality is a movie where they are the main character and everyone else is just playing a side role. (paraphrased)

What does that mean?

They think they are the main character in a story that is all about them. The character part is important. They aren’t playing their real selves in the movie, they are playing a manufactured identity. The character is who they expect everyone to see them as and they will go to great lengths to protect this identity.

Narcissists also have an inability to appreciate that others exist outside of themselves. Everyone else is playing a supporting role. They have reduced others to a “type” as it relates to their character. They fail to recognize that other people have their own stories.

The other characteristic of a narcissist is that they don’t feel guilt, only shame. Feeling guilty is an internal process where you feel bad about something you’ve done. Shame is an external process where you feel bad about what other people think of you. Guilt causes people to do what they feel is right. Shame causes people to do what they think is right for the identity they want others to believe they have. Shame causes people to protect their identity at all costs.

All this might sound a little crazy (because it is), but it is also fairly common. Like I said, everyone has a little narcissism in them.

So what does this have to do with being unhappy? Glad you asked! Narcissism wrecks your whole world view. Nothing is based on reality anymore. How are you supposed to be happy when all your time is spent trying to get others to think you are someone you are not. How are you going to be happy if you don’t even realize you are doing it. How little sense will the world make if everything isn’t going along with your movie?

Maybe I’m not explaining this well enough…

Go read Part 2