Uh, No: “I’m an Empath & they’re the Narcissist!”

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Empathy means getting past the ego.

There are so many articles these days about the relationship between “empaths” and “narcissists” and other similar, trendy ideas.

When we see a lot of something in the media, it means that it’s resonating with people in some way. So, where does all this talk about the “empath” and the “narcissist” really come from, and why do people relate so deeply?

This is actually something that’s been talked about for a long time, since the beginning of religion and probably even before. There are those who go out of their way to connect with others and understand their experience, and then there are those who go out of their way to disconnect from others and live in their own self-satisfying bubble.

This is the empath and the narcissist.

They’re almost like archetypes, which are deeply rooted personal traits that manifest themselves across time.

The reason this seems to matter so much now has everything to do with our culture.

There has never been a time when it makes more sense to be a narcissist. Really. With the infinite amount of information circulating on the internet, the glam and glitter lifestyles backed by consumer capitalism, and the self-aggrandizing nature of social media, it makes complete sense why people would gravitate toward narcissism in the modern age.

When someone slights me to protect their self-image and reinforce a false sense of importance, I’m all like, “Listen, baby…I get it. Whatever you need to get by…it’s all going to be okay, little buddy.”

My problem with the empath/narcissist paradigm is that none of us are just one thing totally. We’re a mixed bag. There are very few people who are completely narcissist with not even a hint of empathy, and there are very few people who are purely empathetic with no sign of any narcissistic tendency. These people probably don’t exist. Breaking people down into dead set categories like this seem to kind of miss the point a little bit.

What’s the point?

Well, we’re all capable of being empathetic and narcissistic, and it’s super important that we choose to embody empathy and bypass the attractions of narcissism in this day and age.

We can’t just say, “I’m an empath, and they’re the narcissist!” That’s kind of narcissistic, if you haven’t noticed. When we point out the world as being the problem, assuming we are just guilt-free and play no part in the drama of life, we’re being hugely egotistical and are not empathizing with the other person.

Empathy means getting past our own ego.

If we can see that we’re also capable of being narcissistic and can be really selfish in our own way, that’s true empathy. Being empathetic doesn’t mean we are never selfish or mean to anyone. Of course we’re going to be selfish and mean sometimes—that’s called being human. Empathy is the being able to recognize one’s self in the other. We see that we’re capable of being all of the ways that other people are like.

None of us are perfect little angels. Every terrible thing that people have ever done to each other continues to exist within our own psyche. There is darkness inside of us, and that’s why it’s always important to stay humble and not point the finger at someone else.

To me, empathy doesn’t necessarily mean feeling exactly what the other person is feeling; it means acknowledging in a very deep way that this is just a person feeling things. This is just “you” living another life, in the words of Aubrey Marcus.

To be truly empathetic, we must be grounded in our own experience. If we are not grounded in our own experience, we can’t possibly know the experience of another.

Don’t get stuck in your head. Stay in the body, the vehicle of feeling. When we get in touch with pure experience, the immediate sensation of the present moment, we see that we are no different from this person. We are fundamentally the same, even if we have vastly different backgrounds and personalities. We don’t need to change people, we just need to see them, and then the seeing becomes the changing.

We can all be a narcissistic asshole, and we can all be beautiful creatures of empathy.

Let’s exercise our innate capacity to choose—the power of our own free will—to live in empathy and refuse to live in narcissism. Just don’t get a big head about how empathetic and spiritual you are. That’s just another trap of the ego.

We’re all stupid. We’re all trying hard. We all feel feelings.

Let’s practice seeing ourselves in the other person and see where that takes us.

~

author: Samuel Kronen

Image: Pixabay

Editor: Catherine Monkman

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Samuel Kronen

Samuel Kronen is a human being. I want to wake you up – kicking in the door to our collective consciousness. My belief is to lead by example. Connect with me through Facebook and Youtube. Thanks much ~ Samuel

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Kristen Hite Aug 19, 2018 11:23am

Please, if you are the victim of narcissistic abuse, know this: you can and should and have every right to reclaim your own self. Your voice deserves to be heard and your needs matter: the challenge is to own them in love after being brainwashed otherwise. This article is about something different--the dance between empathy and ego, and for that dimension it is thoughtful. You could reread it once you are out and recovered and in a different relationship dynamic where the dance dynamics are a healthy question. Until then, take extra special care and know that you deserve love.

Marie Herbert Aug 15, 2018 9:22am

I get that we have to move away from labelling people, I have found that I moved on a lot quicker from my experience and I will call it an experience as to being a victim. I had to take responsibility and accountablility for my part that I played in the experience. My unhealed wounds meant I would attract a person on that vibrational level into my life, I had free will and continued to choose the experience in not loving myself and not taking care of myself and allowing another to trash through my reality. I now choose not to have that experience on that energetic level with anyone, I am still empathic and compassionate but do not allow contrasting energy to to be apart of my reality and stop it in its tracks. Love thyself and know thyself and more importantly dissolve the ego, it will always trip you up if you are not aware of your thoughts.

Hannah Moreno Aug 12, 2018 10:05pm

Samuel Kronen it is nowhere near as simple as that... NPD’s, particularly the covert type, are master manipulators who weave elaborate victim stories that fool whole communities, judges, psychologists, police, and other professionals who are supposed to be able to spot a chronic liar. How is the average empathetic person just as culpable for falling for their lies as the NPD is for spinning them? Not to mention the physiological reactions which occur in these relationships such as trauma bonding, which alters the brain chemicals and which survivors need to literally detox from, and mass amounts of cognitive dissonance as a survival strategy. That is NOT “pathological kindness” and to suggest empaths are just as guilty in his dance is not only absolutely appalling, it’s completely ignorant also.

Hannah Moreno Aug 12, 2018 9:59pm

Smart Trading Strategy sounds like you’ve had some personal experience here too :(

Hannah Moreno Aug 11, 2018 9:49pm

Smart Trading Strategy yeah I find it really frustrating... I’ve had seriously damaging experience with a true NPD, which I’m still dealing with the complex-PTSD symptoms from, and he is a million miles away from the other people in my life who I’ve noted are a bit up themselves or whatever people think narcissism is... NPD borders on sociopathic in many ways and their behaviour is pathological and systematically abusive. We don’t all “have a little bit of that in us” in the slightest......

Samuel Kronen Aug 11, 2018 5:25pm

If it's a destructive entanglement, as you say, then it would be equally as pathological as the aformentioned narcissist - substantiating my claim that they are two sides of the same coin and we are all capable of embodying unhealthy patterns of mind and body equally and should be mindful of our own projections. Being pathologically kind is not much different from being pathologically selfish, from a clinical or pragmatic point of view.

Samuel Kronen Aug 11, 2018 12:59am

This wasn't intended to necessarily be a characterological synopsis of self-defined empaths or narcisstic personality disorder, just an acknlowedment of the fact that we're all on on some kind of spectrum psychologically and categorizations such as "empath" and "narcissist" don't always lend themselves to the fact of our bodily experience. Perhaps some of those lines are a bit more gray and blurry than the media portrays them to be - that's my essential claim.

Hannah Moreno Aug 9, 2018 3:31am

This is actually really ignorant writing on this topic. Actual narcissists - those with enough characteristics to be classified as having a proper Narcissistic Personality Disorder - aren't just people who share a few too many photos via social media. They are genuine empty shells with almost no inner sense of self and who inflict utter destruction and chaos on everyone in their vicinity (in differing ways depending on if they're covert, overt, malignant and cerebral or somatic narcissists). It is an incurable and untreatable condition - according to the world's leading expert on personality disorders - and is far more complex than "someone with an inflated sense of ego" as this article seems to suggest. NPDs are completely unable to just "choose" to not be narcissistic. This article borders on being negligent for sufferers of narcissistic abuse who may still be in denial about the degree of harm being inflicted on them by their partners, and who may still hold out the completely false hope that their partners might also change at some point.

Marilyn Regan Aug 7, 2018 1:47pm

Thanks for your insights. I especially like the comment on the narcissist creating their own reality and living in a bubble. I'm going through this with a new ex-friend. It really goes back to the 4 agreements, don't take it personally. It has nothing to do with you. It's about them.

Heidi Evans McArdle Aug 7, 2018 12:46pm

Right on, sir! And I know the frightful situations that the articles about narcissist/empath are describing. Of course we have to protect ourselves from abusive behavior. But, once we get that, we can move into a more subtle understanding for the benefit of ourselves and others.

Elisabeth Dodson Aug 7, 2018 4:12am

Seriously, the author of this article seems extremely ignorant as to the difference between empathy and an actual Empath. And for the record...Narcissist have little to know empathy and lack compassion for anyone but themselves. They also struggle greatly with object constancy. These are NOT emotions that an Empath struggles with. Perhaps the author could do research before he writes on subject matters he obviously knows nothing about.

Alex Myles Aug 6, 2018 7:47am

Just to add, it’s usually the empath’s ability for immense compassion, understanding, acceptance and forgiveness that keeps them caught in this destructive entanglement for so long

Alex Myles Aug 6, 2018 7:45am

This article missed two main points, firstly being an empath and empathy are two entirely separate things, and secondly if you’ve ever connected with empaths you will quickly discover that they actually take on all the blame, shame and guilt for their own behaviour plus the other persons, which is one of the main reasons they can become debilitated. No empath I’ve ever come across thinks they’re a sweet angel type character, they are all aware that they have some narcissistic traits but there is a huge difference between having a few traits and having narcissistic personality disorder. If you’re an empath you’ll have full understanding of this and know the differences if you’ve ever experienced a close relationship of any kind with someone who has this disorder, it isn’t always as grey and blurred as this article outlines.