Narcissus - Enough About Me, Let's Talk About Me.
Heart and Mind SERIES
In Greek mythology, this guy was a hero who was renowned for his beauty. In the various stories he is exceptionally cruel, in that he disdains those who love him. As divine punishment he falls in love with a reflection in a pool, not realizing it was his own, and perishes there, not being able to leave the beauty of his own reflection.
Coming from the Greek root for "sleep, numbness," Narcissus has spawned a modern psychological concept which many use and understand. The root word does transmit a message. If you are "sleepy or numb" as a personality one could well see how that could be. Narcissus is not only bored, but boring. When you are the best and only subject, things get rather dry. And when you have already fallen in love with yourself, you have no competition. When you are in a race, and you are the only runner, it doesn't stir the competitive juices, or even the fans' juices. Who needs to cheer? Who needs to have a "rooting interest"?
1. Self Absorption - This is the first sign. You will meet lots of people like this. This is where the word "tendencies" comes in. While not full narcissists, many people today play "one upsmanship". They can never just nod and smile and listen and let others tell a story that has its own quaint virtue and is, (drum roll and horns) about somebody else. Immediately, they go through their rollodex reverently and come up with a similar story that is just a little bit better than the one they just heard. Needing constant validation psychologically, but not getting it through healthy means, they just tell their own stories and make themselves feel good. They don't know they are doing it really. If they heard themselves and understood that they are actually supposed to acknowledge when other people are talking, they would probably be appalled, but since they are who they are: sleepy and self-involved, they just rehearse their monologues while others are present.
2. Cruel and Sarcastic - Again, they don't think they are being cruel and sarcastic, but how they relate has an automatic "put down" quality. It is as if your opinion, your observation, your input is substandard. The point here is to get a kind of self-love thrill from referencing one's own masterful identity, against the meager puny self that the other person is burdened with carrying around in their weak little arms. Narcissists are not that smart. That doesn't mean they can't be extra intelligent, they can. If their specific love, passion or avocation is how they see themselves, they can be obsessively fixed on a discipline or area of study. But remember, they don't benefit much from another's point of view. They can lack sophistication and complexity as their basic world is pretty easily organized: There is me and then there is me. There is what I love to read, and don't bother me with something that does not fascinate me. A person who loves a Narcissist has to have patience and hold themselves back at times. If you say, "You just hurt me", the natural response would be: "Don't be so touchy."
3. Unable to Relate - Empathy is a word you hear a lot these days. Sympathy is feeling for a person from your point of reference. Empathy is being able to actually put yourself in another's position. Empathy takes desire, consciousness, sincerity and emotional maturity. They can not relate to your suffering, or your story, or where you are "coming from" because they do not engage in the mental process of putting themselves imaginatively in other people's shoes. This is a polarized world, so you will read articles by writers and listen to conversations at lunch or at work in which you can tell this person does not relate to anything but their point of view. And when you say something it passes, not through an empathic side, but it bounces off of them. Topics are not nuanced. They do not blend points of view, they just keep making their points over and over again. Thoughts don't evolve or get enriched or altered, they simply get repeated back with a different level of loudness. This is why religious and political conversations at parties are not smart. They say: "I came with my fiddle and I am a darned good fiddle player and I don't care about your trombone!" Again, this is a human tendency, but highly exaggerated and extreme when you are dealing with a Narcissist.
4. "What's The Big Problem"? - Falling in love with your own image is very natural. There is nothing wrong with that. I think I am captivating. This personality does not really think they have anything wrong with them. The world is out of step. They are missing the point. They think: "I really am wonderful". They are not self effacing, they are ruinously self-involved and do not see a blemish. A pimple is a beauty mark. If you have a loved one, or important business or employment connection, it's important not to get extra angry at your Narcissist. They are yours to deal with. If you are going to wrestle them two out of three falls, and bring the "truth of God" to their hard little heads, you will probably ruin the relationship by forcing their errors upon them. If you don't care about the relationship, then go ahead and do your worst. But, if you actually love them, or have to get along with them for various reasons, then don't make them admit to error or to having a serious problem.
5. "Of course, I am in love with myself, no one else is!" - The sad part of this personality is that they actually know in the deep interior that other people are not in love with them. It is a Circular Problem. Since no one is in love with me, I must love myself. Since I am in love with me, I don't need anyone else. Therapists will tell you that many of these types had to raise themselves, or were brought up in an environment where they were not directed, corrected or guided. Thus, they begin by thinking, (or not thinking) that they are the source of truth and validation. They don't get the " rough and tumble" of figuring out who they are, and how their own identity is forged by dealing with others.
6. LIke Being Lost in the Woods, Narcissus always returns to the Place He Started. - If you have ever been lost in the woods, it is actually amazing how you can return to the neighborhood you were in a few hours ago. They say that this is because we tend to curve as we are thinking we are walking straight. So, give it enough time, and we will make a big curving circle that puts us back where we were. Since this personality has a well-organized life that is essentially simple, they will actually just tend to curve back to their favorite topic. You can spend two hours telling a gripping tale of grief, sadness and torrid adventure, and end up victorious over a once in a life time challenge; you can think: "Man, this is the best story ever!" The Narcissist will patiently listen to you, and you can think you finally have them captivated. And then they have that vacant, sleepy, dull look on their face. It is deeply painful for the subject not to be THEM. Your incredible story is a comic book that they don't care to read. All the time, they are trying to return the topic to themselves. If they can succeed in doing that, then they have done their creative work for the day.
7. Who's The Fairest of them All? - Don't make the mistake of thinking they are the prettiest and most beautiful people around. It is a mistake to think that they grew up looking in the mirror because of their beauty. They can be beautiful or handsome, but they can look like every body else too. The message of the myth is to draw such a silly image that the "dumbness" of their preoccupation is laughable. They fall in love with their own image in the pool. Don't forget the next point: "Not realizing that the image is themselves, they perish at the pool". For normal healthy individuals who are replete with faults and foibles, but are basically sound psychologically, it is easy to be completely confused by this condition. So, pull in some empathy and think about this. They don't wake up every morning and look in the mirror and say: "You handsome Narcissist, how ya' doin?" They wake up every morning with much on their mind. And they are sincerely in love. Don't think of them as consciously self-involved, they are unconsciously self-involved.
"Hi, I'm Joe! I am incredibly self-involved."
If you love them, realize, they are not ever going to introduce themselves that way. In fact, they are not necessarily cocky. They can be brooding, quiet people. Don't draw a caricature of them in your minds. If you love them, have to love them, must be civilized with them and are never going to leave them, because they are in your family or your extended long term friends, just realize they need love like everybody else. In fact they really need your love. It's just that they are not necessarily going to thank you for it. If you go out of your way to bless them with kindness, it will probably not lead to them "seeing the light". They will take your love and kindness as validation of their first and greatest opinion, that they are wonderful and deserving of constant thought and appreciation.
If You Think You Might Be A Narcissist - No Man Is An Island
Those who live in a world of conscious awareness and have their interests in many friends and have connections of kindness and empathy, you might think you are narcissistic. Why? Because, to be concerned with the Self is quite natural. But that is not Narcissism. If you fear you are Narcissistic, then self awareness might be shining a new light on you. There are definite ways of dealing and improving the way you relate to others and frame yourself in your world. Go to your loved ones, professionals, friends and inquire. The world can be a very forgiving place. You are not here to fall apart, descend into muddy self concern and watch your life get more and more chaotic. Some people feel that chaos is the ultimate end of humanity. A downcast and neurotic personality can manifest when they see the world in these black and white terms. Try to see yourself as being a part of something. "No Man Is An Island". Think about it. With the rising of each new day, and a recognition of the boundless mercy in which we are awash, a new grip on your life can be attained.
Christofer French is the Founder of Astrologygetalong.com. Some sun signs can be more naturally inclined to this malady. Working your way out of it, can be a Joy.