We all have narcissistic traits. We are all dependent on the world around us and the feedback that we get from others and from life. We all get triggered by those around us and have feeling and judgments that sometimes rapidly emerge. The difference between a child and an adult is that an adult takes responsibility for their triggers and uses triggering events as an opportunity for self-reflection rather than blaming. An adult takes responsibility for his/her responses and behavior. Since most of our behavior is determined by unconscious patterns, this is a huge and lifelong task....of growing up.
When I first read Man's Search for Meaning as a teenager, it began to catalyze a transformation in my life and my core belief systems. The author, Victor Frankl, a man horribly victimized in a Nazi concentration camp, described the process of taking responsibility for one’s life this way:
Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. The last of human freedoms -- the ability to chose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances.
When we are no longer able to change a situation — we are challenged to change ourselves.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
A common misperception of the myth of Narcissus is that when he looked into the pool of water, he fell in love with himself. This doesn't really get at the core tragedy of Narcissus.
In fact, Narcissus had a much bigger challenge. Narcissus had to look into the pool of water to know that he existed. He had no self esteem, no healthy ego, no sense of himself without a reflection from the external environment.
In a general sense.... if the reflection of a narcissist by the external world is unpleasant or doesn't support his or her grandiose
— primarily unconscious — beliefs of superiority... the ones that cover and hide his or her core sense of shame or worthlessness, (s)he goes into a rage about the reflection and does everything (s)he can to destroy the integrity of that reflection and the person who offers that reflection. No Narcissist ever wants to hear the real news.... what is really happening and when a narcissist is in a position of power everyone around him or her tend to sell out their own truth for the truth of the narcissist. See The Emperor's New Clothes. The people who serve a narcissist are sycophants..... if they don't accommodate and tell the emperor how beautiful his clothes look (despite his nakedness), they are fired.
Narcissists have very immature egos. They are essentially incapable of empathy and of learning. Their immature egos are continuously threatening and triggered by the world around them. They create families and organizations and countries and world situations that are frightening, untethered, corrupt.... where everyone lives in survival mode.... where fear rather than love is the predominant feeling... where blame is encouraged... where victim consciousness predominates.
When a bully, who functions at the emotional maturity of a two year old is driving the bus, everyone on that bus is fearful. Period.
After over 30 years of work and play as a clinical psychologist, I know that where there is drama there is trauma. Narcissists are victims, who victimize.
We all want peace. We all want to be seen for who we are. We all want power. We all want to be useful. We all want a a good reason to get up in the morning and leave our children a better world.
This can never be accomplished without the recognition that everything in the world is interconnected. We are all Souls on a journey. From my worldview, all distress, all depression, all anxiety, all addictions all exploitive behaviors, all blaming... are simply symptoms that the Soul and the Ego are disconnected.
What is the Soul? It's our authentic self. Our genius. Our daemon. Our unique manifestation of the divine. When our Egos are mature, we take care of ourselves and the world around us, recognizing that we are all connected. This is not an easy task. Aligning Soul and Ego leads to a lot of discomfort. We have to break away from the familiar (family) and cultural (tribal and community) patterns that we have adopted to survive. The only healthy response to profound suffering whether in our inner world or in the outer world (and they are related) is love. All else is some form of violence justified by an immature ego... in survival mode... living in fear.
Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
- Jalaluddin Rumi
(a Sufi Muslim by the way... circa 1200)
Next: The Tantric Perspective and Some Tantric Solutions
If you are interested in pursuing any of these ideas with Erik, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Our website is www.kailomentoringgroup.com