Why the World Needs Narcissists.

Via Janny Juddly
on Sep 20, 2015
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day 079. Holly lay, Flickr

So we all hate narcissists, right?

We all hate what they do to us. What they make us feel. How they make us behave.

We can’t stand their self-centredness, their selfishness, their ruthless focus on their own needs.

Their arrogance and grandiosity, their ability to take the limelight and just not care how that makes anyone else feel…

I mean, it stinks, doesn’t it, having a narcissist in our lives! The world would be a much better place if all narcissists were gone—-poof! kazzam!

Only, actually—it wouldn’t.

Let me tell you a secret: narcissists are our greatest teachers. And they offer us a gift like no other.

Yep, that’s right! Narcissists are our greatest teachers. Let me explain why.

As a psychotherapist and spiritual life coach, I don’t see many narcissists in my therapy room; but I do see lots of grown ups who were—and still are—the children of narcissists. I also see those who are the partners of narcissists or who have a narcissist as their boss or co-worker.

Take, for instance, “Zoe.”

Zoe’s mum is someone we would typically describe as a narcissist. She lacks empathy or real concern, and so doesn’t tune in to Zoe’s needs at all. It’s as if Zoe is invisible.

As a child, Zoe felt unseen, unloved, irrelevant and unloveable. It was all about her mum, and her mum’s needs, and the only attention Zoe really received was when she was either meeting her mum’s needs—for which she received praise—or when she was frustrating her mum’s needs—for which she received coldness and rejection.

Since Zoe’s mum was self-obsessed, she saw Zoe, not as a separate personality to be nourished and encouraged, but rather as an extension of herself. While Zoe fulfilled all her mum’s expectations of who her mum thought she should be, she received praise and approval. When she tried to be her own person, her mum would punish her by withdrawing approval and warmth and care. Everything was conditional upon Zoe getting it right. On her mum’s terms.

Zoe’s mum had a pretty grandiose idea of her own specialness, and her own entitlement to good things. She expected the world to revolve around her, not Zoe—she should never hog the limelight. Her mum expects to be admired and adored, and she does not wish to share any of the attention. 

If Zoe does well, looks good or is happy, her Mum is immediately envious of that, and pretty quickly spoils it for her—a look, a word or a withdrawal of attention is enough.

Zoe is extremely sensitive to this, and can be shamed or crushed in an instant.

It’s very subtle. No-one on the outside might even notice.

Others tend to see Zoe’s mum in a different light, and think that Zoe is very lucky to have her—they think she’s amazing. Her mum works extremely hard at building her public persona. She shines. She acts incredibly kind, interested and concerned. She’s turned it into an art form.

Only Zoe knows how hollow and empty it really is, but even Zoe doubts herself because no-one else seems to see what she sees. Zoe therefore carries a nagging sense that she’s bad for thinking such things, and tends to tell everyone what a wonderful mum she has, because that’s what they all seem to expect.

By now, we’re all feeling sorry for Zoe, aren’t we?

And probably pretty judgemental about Zoe’s mum. What an awful woman! Poor Zoe has drawn the short straw in being born to a mum like this!

But then, Zoe shows up in my therapy space, and we go on a journey together.

Zoe doesn’t know it yet, but this is going to be a spiritual journey, just as all her life up until this point has been a spiritual journey. Just as every life is a spiritual journey.

And that spiritual journey is one that always leads us, in the end, back to unconditional love.

Now, at this point, it’s natural to think that I’m going to suggest that Zoe’s journey will involve forgiving her mum for all the damage and hurt and envy and abandonment, and becoming a loving and selfless human being who will love her mum unconditionally despite all she is, and all she has done.

But that’s not it. That’s not what I’m going to say at all.

That’s not the way this game—and I believe it is a game—goes. Not at all. This game of life is based on contrasts.

Zoe’s mum is on a spiritual journey just as much as Zoe is. She’s on her path and Zoe’s on hers. Zoe’s mum’s path needn’t be any of Zoe’s business, because suppose Zoe’s mum incarnated here knowing what role she was going to play—and why—just as Zoe did. In fact, suppose they planned it together.

Just suppose nothing’s going wrong here.

What if Zoe’s mum is actually a selfless and unconditionally loving soul?

You’d have to be, to go through the pain of what it actually means to be a narcissist. Because the life of a narcissist is one of the most deeply unhappy roles any of us can play.

But she goes through it for the benefit of another—a catalyst that will catapult them into the challenge of developing unconditional self-love.

The sacrifice of the narcissist is huge—being hated, and very likely abandoned as being impossible to live with. That’s the power of what a narcissist offers so another can react against it.

There is deep purpose in Zoe’s relationship with her mother. Just suppose.

Growth in this potential reality (it all depends on how we chose to view it) happens as a result of contrast. Always.

Children of narcissists show up in my therapy space with many great spiritual qualities already in place. Growing up with a narcissistic parent does that.

They are generally caring, empathic and tuned in. They are usually giving, generous and kind. They’re usually eager to see the other’s point of view, and to try to understand why another behaves the way they do before judging. They are normally fair-minded and tolerant, good listeners, perceptive and knowing. They know how to love others pretty well. The person they don’t know how to love is themself.

And that’s the narcissist’s gift.

All the bits that the Zoes of this world feel bad about initially—the resentment at not being seen, the anger at being overlooked, the hurt and outrage at being made to feel invisible and unimportant—those are the seeds via which the narcissist’s supreme gift will come to fruition.

They are the seeds that will grow self-love. And they’ll grow through deciding.

When Zoe first shows up, she wants to hide those bits. She believes they’re bad—unloveable. My job, as one more player in Zoe’s spiritual journey, is to validate them, allow them.

I help her to see the wholeness she’s reaching for, to affirm that to love fully includes loving ourselves, and that this is her divine right as a spiritual being.

Once Zoe gets that, really gets that, she’s unstoppable! Wow, just watch her blossom! She already had the tools; now she has the power behind them!

Narcissists: we don’t have to love them, or even like them.

But maybe, for their gift and the life they have chosen, we might look on from a safe distance in awe.


Relephant read:

An Open Letter to Those Who Call Themselves Empaths.


Author: Janny Juddly

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Holly Lay. Flickr



About Janny Juddly

Janny Juddly has been a psychotherapist and university lecturer fascinated to work with the mind-body-spirit connection for over 25 years, and a spiritual life coach and woman going through a major spiritual awakening process for the last three of those. The way the two inform and enrich and enable and challenge and feed each other has blown her mind, and she has found herself compelled to share this new adventure with others. She writes prolifically, and this has led to a growing worldwide following, daily discussions with spiritual seekers across the globe, and a recently published book, Dancers Amongst The Stars, available on Amazon and Book Depository (which offers free shipping worldwide). As someone who helps fellow travellers daily to make sense of their stories, Janny Juddly now brings a new and, she is told by many, unique perspective: that of an awakening woman who happens to have a psychotherapist in her pocket. That fresh perspective offers an invitation to all of us to see, through compassionate eyes, where we have truly come from, the amazing path we are embarked upon, and to view our experience of living this life - which for each one of us is uniquely ours alone - from the perspective of who we really are: a magnificent Being of light and love and power living a purposeful human experience. You can find her on her website and on her blog page or on Facebook. You can also watch her on YouTube, listen to her on Soundcloud, and follow her on Twitter and on Instagam. You can also listen to her show, Pocket Talk Radio. You can visit her Psychotherapy Website: Stressworks, and her Energy Healing Website: Universal Energy Works. Her direct e-mail is [email protected] You can also sign up to receive her regular newsletter, Pocket Chat.


14 Responses to “Why the World Needs Narcissists.”

  1. Selma says:

    Absolutely loved and appreciated this!
    Thank you!

  2. Janny Juddly says:

    Delighted it spoke to you, Selma! And thank you so much for dropping by to leave soome appreciative feedback! Love and sparkles! Janny xxx

  3. Tina says:

    Absolutely loved this article, they’re so many articles, groups, etc here on facebook, that speak such evil, of these individuals, I chose to believe otherwise, honestly, I appreciate this so much, remembering we are all in this together, called earth, where to love, you never have lost. Unconditional love , now that’s a challenge Im willing to take.

  4. Marissa says:

    Thank you for this article, very well understood and written. So many others, tend to look at these individuals as monsters, groups, Facebook posts, articles, speaking evil, but to understand from a different point of view, to refuse to be a victim of circumstances, and to learn a NEW way of thinking may possibly, help shed some light, and peace. The real challenge is loving without judgment. Unconditional love. Like they say, where you’ve truly loved, you’ve never lost.

  5. Janny Juddly says:

    Hi Tina, I appreciate your words and the unconditional acceptance in them so much! And I totally agree! Thank you for stopping by to leave your wonderful feedback! Love and sparkles! Janny xxx

  6. Janny Juddly says:

    Thanks so much for your wonderful comments, Marissa, and the unconditional love and understanding they hold. There are more of us than we know! Here's to a world without judgement, able to see beyond to the Love we all are! Love and sparkles! Jannyxxx

  7. Mel says:

    I like this. I often think that my former step mom (the one I had from age 7-16) was a narcissist. When I would do well in something she would rarely offer praise and instead would say something that would knock me down a bit. When I did a play and was chosen to play the lead roles at age 8, she could only come up with something critical to say after my performance. I had a little stage fright since it was my first time and although she knew I really loved to act, she said, "oh, you had a hard time with that didn't you." This influenced me to think I was no good and didn't pursue it further in a class setting. Instead I would do shows privately at our home since that felt safer since again it was something I loved. At the end of my dance recital she had nothing nice to say really. When she had me sing for her Spanish language teaching program recording, she told me after we went to the recording studio that I sounded nasally and childlike (I was a child). She told me that she wasn't sure if it was good enough. My little spirit was crushed because it took a lot of courage to go into the recording studio for the first time and her words felt mincing. They made me want to shut my mouth and never sing again. I did even do this somewhat. I started to only sing privately or with trusted friends. Interestingly, everyone else thought I did an amazing job (including the recording studio staff) and they encouraged my step mom to use my voice. She did use my voice, but gave no praise for it. She was always so very concerned about her public image and had an enormous wardrobe. She loved to be in the spotlight (a professional singer with my dad), but seemed to want to keep me out of it. Maybe it was envy, that makes the most sense to me. I think also that she noticed that her daughter didn't have any natural inclination to participate in the performing arts and didn't show much natural talent in that area either. I also got the sense that she would have liked her daughter to be the one that excelled in that area, so diminishing me if I attempted to follow that path seemed to be a good way to prevent me from surpassing her daughter. My dad can be a bit narcissistic too, but he would praise me some when I was growing up. They both did get so involved in their own lives that they often would forget to do normal caretaker responsibilities (especially for me- my stepmom watched out for her daughter that was younger than me more and my brother was old enough to start doing some of that for himself- I was young enough that I still needed an attentive caretaker though). My mom is the opposite. She puts her kids first and praises them freely. She is not envious. My dad's next girlfriend was not narcissistic; she had a stable job as a lab tech, thought of me and my needs regularly, loved me unconditionally and would compliment me. She was awesome, but they didn't last long. His current girlfriend is narcissistic again, I think. She wanted me out of the picture from day one, and started immediately spending my dad's money recklessly on extravagant things. She too loves to be in the limelight and has never said anything nice about me. When someone said I was beautiful in front of her, she even made a look of disapproval. She seemed to see me as competition instead of as a new daughter. And it got worse than that with her, but that is another story. At least my early stepmom did love me in her own way. My new one- not so much.

  8. Mel says:

    Oops I meant critical words (not mincing). I got the meaning of that word wrong when I was younger and still misuse it sometimes.

  9. sarah says:

    I read your article twice yesterday. I see the intention as rather sweet and charming, however, I'm calling bullshit.

    It still gets me sometimes, the mother daughter bond that i don't have, for the very reason you wrote about. Had my childhood been different would i still be the bad ass i am today? Perhaps, perhaps not, But would I have been happier, or healthier? I would have been different. To say that we need them in our society is the same as needing serial killers. Look at what is happening in our world. Look at big business, that's a lot like a narcissist too in some ways.
    Does it do good things for our country? In some ways it provides jobs, but it's destructive, and pollutes their environments.

    The same is true here, narcissism gave you a client, but the damage that was inflicted by her mom was destructive. Statistically i wonder if folks that dealt with this as a kid are any more successful, happier then others? Saying the bit about "seeds of self love,' omg. No. Just no. It's more like taking a seed and planting it in the most inhospitable soil. You don't need nasty to find self love, maybe appreciate it more? But at what vile cost?

    When you loose a sense the others grow stronger, when dealing with pain or abuse other parts of you grow stronger. That does not however mean we need narcissists. (Unless we are charging 100 bucks an hour of course 🙂 ) They are forcing their way in as teachers, without them, we would learn from other mediums. Love is the key, and the answer. narcissism doesn't move from that place, just an ugly fork in the road.

    ps. This article reminds me of a time i got in a rather nasty car crash, and this young religious cashier looked up at me and said it was gods plan. Don't think she works there anymore.

  10. Janny Juddly says:

    Hey Mel, thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts in this way. I'm sorry you had some of those pretty shitty experiences. At the same time, I want you to know that the person you are now, as a result, absolutely shines through!! You go, girl!! I know you know you deserve it!! Love and sparkles! Janny xxx

  11. Janny Juddly says:

    Hey Mel, thanks for your response and for sharing those thoughts. You sound exactly like I used to sound maybe forty years ago or so. I've been where you are, because scratch any psychotherapit and you find just another human being who's known pain and wounding. I honour your anger and outrage. Good for you! You also describe yourself as a badass. I guess that's the challenge and the way out if you want to take it: the choice between staying in the anger and outrage, or finding some freedom in seeing it all through different eyes. You don't know me, but I assure you I'm not 'sweet' as you intimate. I'm tough as they come and I've known lots. But I have chosen a different strength, the only one that ultimately brings any kind of relief or happiness. And that's to see that we're all one, all mirrors of each other, all growing each other as the unconditional love we all really are. Everything else is just us playing a role. We wake up when we get that they're just roles and we find freedom beyond it. Be angry! Good! Call what I say bullshit! Good! Way to go! Truly! Good for you! Then choose. How do you want it to be? Love and sparkles! Janny xxx

  12. Jennifer says:

    Sorry, but reading this article as an adult raised by an abusive narcissist father, I have to say, this article is complete nonsense. Narcissistic abuse is the worst kind of abuse a person can suffer, and fragile children who are faced with surviving this feat usually spend the rest of their lives attempting to recover; most never do. Not fully, anyway. Yes, it's a "spiritual journey" – which is filled with pain, self-sabotage, heartbreak, depression and anxiety, interpersonal relationship struggles, etc. that nobody really wants to spend their precious life dealing with. Why? Because it sucks! It may be nice for therapists, who gain lots of business from us (we are estimated to make up 80% of therapy clients) – but for us, it's an ongoing tragic nightmare that gets in our way at every step. Life is a struggle for us thanks to these abusers who have zero empathy and lead us to believe we are worthless, broken and unwanted. To sugarcoat this and pretend it's a "gift" makes me sick and leaves me wondering if the author herself is high on the narcissistic scale. What would have been a "gift" would have been growing up with parents who had the ability to love us and show us that we had worth. To suggest otherwise is just another slap in the face and is borderline "blame the victim" mentality: if we are unable or unwilling to "think positively" about being abused as children, and the need to spend years in therapy trying to fix what they broke inside of us, it's us who have the problem. Sounds like more gas-lighting BS to me…only this time, at the hands of the "therapist". No thanks, Janny, I've got enough on my plate already.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Janny, sorry an adult abuser who victimizes a small, helpless, dependent child as they develop, leaving them to pick up the pieces for the rest of their lives isn't about us all "being one", and two people just "playing a role". To suggest it IS, is classic minimization and gas-lighting behavior.

    Are you, yourself a narcissist? It sounds like you probably are.

    How dare you characterize another persons very real, painful experiences of abuse they survived as a helpless child and are now trying to mitigate as an adult as a "choice between staying in the anger and outrage, or finding some freedom in seeing it through different eyes" (yours). This is disgusting to me.

    People with NPD ARE monsters and they should be avoided at all costs if your smart and value your own mind and life. Not everyone wants to use a spiritual bypass to get beyond the trauma these people inflicted upon them; some of us are brave enough to call a spade a spade, to learn from the experience that there really are horrible people out there who enjoy making others suffer, and move on in REALITY – not subscribe to even more gas-lighting, i.e. the fantasy BS you promote in this article (wow, it wasn't abuse; it was actually a really good experience that made me more spiritual, I am "one" with my abuser, etc.). No thanks.

    If your not a narc, and were raised by one, then you understand, clearly, that the best way to overcome the abuse of a narc parent is to go no contact, cut them out of your life at every chance you get, and realize you survived a near death experience and will be spending the rest of your life trying to gain a sense of self worth after the fact.

    There is no silver lining and nothing cute or spiritual about this experience! It's a tragedy that people OVERCOME, at great expense to themselves (again, NOT FUN).

    Yes, we do become "bad ass" out of necessity; not because we wanted to, but because we weren't allowed to be anything else. We have to survive, and so we do. The party line that we are "all one" with the narcissist only leads people back to more pain and suffering from these monsters as we all pretend to be magical unicorns flitting from cloud to cloud. Fantasize about this horrendous reality all you want, but deep down, if you were raised by a narc, you will know this is a pile of lies. How will you know? Easy! Every time you visit your narc parent, they will crush you yet again, and you'll be right back in therapy, getting another chance to be more "spiritual". Lucky you.

  14. Jane says:

    Very well said!!