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January 26, 2021

If they’re a Narcissist, you’re a Narcissist.

 

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If they’re narcissistic, you’re narcissistic. Do you even know what that means? Please stop.

I am not a clinical psychologist; I want to be clear.

However, after decades of therapy—an inherent distrust of people resulting from a lifetime of trauma—I am a research nerd and lifelong student.

Add insomnia into the mix, and I ended up with a “light reading list” of anything from Anatomy and Physiology books (true story) to Neil Gaiman, Ekhart Tolle, or even the current fifth volume of the DSM (a book used to diagnose mental health disorders).

Here are a few examples of the sort of articles that are constantly rolling across my feed:

>> “12 Signs they’re a Narcissist and Why You need to leave now.” 

>> “How to tell if you’re being Gaslighted.” 

>> “Why Narcissists can’t Change.” 

It’s like this daily. And, yes, there’s a very real chance I’m “triggered,” but I’m not angry, and I’m not overly emotional; I am just so damn sad.

At one point in my path, I was pursuing a Doctorate in Theology, with a focus on Ancient Polytheism and minoring in Philosophy. I love to learn, and I love to teach, and I am absolutely enamored with the inner workings of the human condition.

Be it my Aquarius-Pisces cusp or Buddhist practices I subscribe to, I have always wanted to be of service to my fellow humans. It was my deep study, specifically on the ego and projection (and probably my posthumous crush on Carl Jung), that deviated me from this path.

I realized I didn’t need that certification to make my mark, nor to teach. And that it wouldn’t truly make me more valuable as a human being, merely more valuable to certain human beings, because of their projections and perceptions.

And it leads to what I’m writing about at this very moment—our societally inherited fragile ego.

I’m American. I need to start with that as I draw our attention no further than how we are taught our American history as children. Its lasting effects are sure to spark and inspire at such a young age.

Be it the Trail of Tears, Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat, or Operation Desert Storm, we seem to be big perpetuates of a one-sided narrative. Only within the last few years have history books been revised to offer commentary condemning acts of segregation and brutality toward others.

But, even then, it just isn’t possible to fully explain; it’s the victors who teach history, and, thus, it is subject to their biases. More importantly, there are always so many different facets to one particular story.

It is all too easy to say that one thing is right while the others are wrong. But, by doing this, we are failing to address the ways fault could equally be on both sides. It’s more dependant on which side we’re on. 

If I say to someone, “I prefer cats to dogs,” that does not mean I hate dogs. Yet, if someone were to post that as a Facebook status, there’s a high probability that another person would comment in a vein of that circular logic.

This leads me to my final points: we are lacking in accountability as individuals and projecting our wounds onto others. We are not only handicapping our own growth; we are normalizing intolerance and abuse. We are enslaving ourselves in a victim mentality when we continue to externalize our wounds as the trauma and fault of others.

We need to rethink what we’ve been told about narcissism. And, for goddess sake, we need to stop throwing that label around so flippantly without even understanding what narcissism is.

We all possess narcissistic traits. In fact, healthy narcissism is responsible for everything from our ability to recover from setbacks to creating self-esteem. And less than 3-7 percent of the global population is diagnosed with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), which means that on the sliding scale of narcissism, they’re unable to function.

This goes into deeper levels of psychosis, including the types lacking in empathy that result in malignancy and destruction. Just because our roommate posts a million selfies and doesn’t seem open to understanding our point of view, doesn’t make her a narcissist, even if we’ve been unendingly kind and compassionate.

In fact, it might speak to our own codependency issues, lack of self-love and respect, and inability to communicate if we’re feeling taken advantage of and used.

To believe our own viewpoint of someone as the most accurate deduction is inherently descriptive and egoic. Ironically, this thinking can cultivate our own unhealthy traits as we forget that so many factors go into just one version of reality.

The intention, for example, is found to be incredibly important. If it’s the “thought the counts,” why are we oftentimes so bereft when the shot “misses the mark?” 

It’s like shouting in someone’s face: “Obviously, you’re suffering from the Dunning-Kruger Effect!” (This is a belief that we are far more competent and educated in something than we’re able to demonstrate.) How do we have the authority to pronounce that if we’re not doctors? 

That’s the question I pose to us all. It’s not to dismiss anyone’s experiences what so ever. I’ve been there; those feelings are valid. 

I merely hope to help us look internally.

We can only identify things as we understand them, but if we perceive someone as narcissistic and toxic, aren’t we just as guilty for assuming as much?

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