“Narcissism: Mental disorder characterized by extreme self-absorption, an exaggerated sense of self-importance, and a need for attention and admiration from others. First identified by Havelock Ellis in 1898, the disorder is named for the mythological Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection. In addition to an inflated self-image and addiction to fantasy, narcissism is characterized by an unusual coolness and composure, which is shaken only when the narcissistic confidence is threatened, and by the tendency to take others for granted or to exploit them. According to Sigmund Freud, narcissism is a normal stage in children's development, but it is considered a disorder when it occurs after puberty.” (www.answers.com)
So why am I defining narcissism? Well lately, I have been wondering if I have been living in a very narcissistic fashion, very orderly to the likes of me. Do I think I have Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Well, no(ish), hopefully not, please no. However, recently, I was watching this documentary, and I was SO struck on how much I resonated with the person highlighted in the story (I never intend to reveal the documentary by the way, no way Jose). Then, while watching, the expert psychologist on the show explained the person as having very narcissistic traits. My heart sank, and then I found myself crying, the kind where the tears roll down the face. I believe at that moment, I cried for many of the things in life I should have been more aware of but that I have been TOO self-absorbed to even notice. I should mention, I am not opposed to crying, I am all for emotional expression, but I am not one to do this so randomly. Yes, I will cry at the Hallmark commercials, or watching the Nicholas Sparks love story, or of course watching the powerful gut wrenching “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, but this crying incident was RANDOM. This was a wake up. A sad but much needed wake up. I have been really caught up in me. No, I don’t need a lot of worldly praise, but if I’m honest, I don’t mind it. I don’t exploit others (I HOPE I DON’T), but I am certain I have not been honoring and truly nurturing my relationships. I have not appreciated the authenticity of all the awesome relationships in my life and all around me. And yet, I have been eons about me me me. Me.
So, I started thinking of the COFFEE project. I thought, okay, I need to do something about this, do something wonderful, make use of these tears. REALLY make a difference in this world no matter how minute the difference or silly I feel right-at-this-moment. Really change who I am for the better because this silly stupid documentary just made me cry! Screw embarrassment. Although, I will also take this opportunity to apologize a bit for my posts (1, 2, 3) being all over the universe, but I figure, that’s okay, right? That’s the point right? To be figuring it all out as we go. Take off the make-up, wear your hair down with no hair product, be bare bones… this is me, Scary Spice even more scary. Yikes!
Now, back to personalities and selfishness, and taking off the layers. I am very aware what Narcissistic Personality Disorder is. I work with people all the time who have this or strong characteristics, and there is a difference between a little healthy narcissism versus unhealthy narcissism. The healthy kind is good, and we need it sometimes for our own security and mind’s good health, the kind when you love yourself for who YOU REALLY ARE and assert yourself when necessary. On the other ugly hand, the unhealthy kind sucks the life straight out of you, and makes it impossible to love, express feelings, and you end up hurting a lot of people in very sucky ways, basically everyone in your path, and everyone thinks you’re a big fat moron (i.e. Mel Gibson, bless his heart….). Healthy narcissism is something that you can turn on sometimes for your own security and happy sanity, the kind that has you dancing alone in front of hundreds of people at a concert and only caring about the music’s beat, certainly not caring if you’re blocking the cranky old lady’s view. The bad kind is when you only love the IMAGE of yourself that you want people to believe but that’s totally bogus. And, we all have both kinds. BOTH kinds. Lately, this is what has me worried, and I find myself speculating interactions with new vigor. Have I been having the wrong kind more often than not with me being heavy sided on me? The more focused on success and all the time I spend so independent and more often alone (or working), am I turning into something a little cold and detached? A little stinky and yucko? Somebody who will start to lose people and feel unfamiliar with authentic relationships and eventually forget how to nurture these relationships? Sadly, I think a little bit. I can be very much about me. I don’t like that. I don’t like that at all. Except, sometimes, I do because it’s easier. Yuck.
Side note. There was a time in my life a few years ago, 2008-2009, where I was put-in-my-place. I shall never forget this time. During the time I was going through the biggest transition of my life, aka getting ready for “single-doom,” something strange and nightmarish started happening in my everyday existence called panic. I began to have moments in my daily routines and responsibilities that would actually debilitate me by full-blown panic. You know, the kind of things you hear about….. I would sweat profusely, black out, cry at inappropriate moments, experience heart rates so rapid that there was no doubt at that moment that a heart attack was happening. The moments where I found myself jetting out of a room, a grocery store, a mall, a restaurant, just about anywhere was fair game, and I would run for dear life to a bathroom, my car, the fresh air, whatever and wherever I could go to get away. Moments where I would get sick at work. Moments that ultimately I decided were unacceptable and stupid. So here’s what I did. Well, first, I should admit I decided that I had diabetes. Yes, I actually convinced myself that I had diabetes (however, there was that sneaking suspicion something was a little amiss with my self diagnosis). Anyway, I told just about nobody of my panic. I mean, HOW EMBARRASSING, right? I treat panic for the love of Pete’s therapist! So, I finally sought out help through a few sessions with the likes of my people. I never told that therapist about my panic symptoms, but just talking helped immensely. I don’t know why I didn’t tell her about the panic, but I did start facing my anxiety head on and never backed down. I did all the things that I advise people to do to work through it, AND IT WORKED! Nobody nobody nobody knew at my job. I continued to do presentations, run meetings, and see clients (and treat their panic). I never missed a day of work due to it. I continued to act like my transition was smooth sailing and that I had so much support that I couldn’t be bothered by stress of transition. Well, in fact, nobody at my job (except one person) even knew about my transition until a year and six months into it. So, I guess, maybe, all that was a little healthy narcissism, yes? And, perchance, my panic was quite apropos.
So, here’s the dealio. I have been reading all of these fantastic awe-inspiring posts that have been making me want to be OUT THERE. BE A YAY ME for above average reasons. I want to be a B++ student. Not worry about the image or constantly striving for the perfect A. Not worry about being perfect or scared of looking stupid or not knowing something or just whatever. There are A LOT of whatevers. But mostly, I will work on being less absorbed and all about me. I will work on perspective, and I will work on empathy. Empathy is everything. I will like people that I don’t want to or at least be more tolerable. I will be less rigid and more flexible (of course this may be more Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, but I will include it here for now). I will be more about other people because that is who I want to be. That is love defined for me, and if I am to be honest and love myself in healthy happy rock star B++ ways, I will strive to love unconditionally and show respect and genuine interest in a more global way. I will be hopeful.
So….. I am going to follow suit, march behind my COFFEE warriors and talented hot tamale sisters, and make another list. This list will be how I am not going to be the bad kind of narcissist sucko (I stole the word “sucko” from Russell Parks fyi… he will likely never read this but word to you Russell!!).
1. I am going to be okay with my feelings, and when I feel bad or inadequate or a sucko, I am going to express these feelings openly and then get over it.
2. I am going to smile more at people that annoy me, especially the people who instantly annoy me (and consider the possibility that I instantly annoy them too).
3. I am going to donate more money and trust in God that it will all work out (and I will shop less for me).
*** Since I wrote #3 (as a I wrote this post a few days before my “scheduled” posting date), I have had to follow up on my big words noted by the following instances:
A) I was at church, and the money I normally give in the offering isn’t necessarily the “biggest” bill in my wallet (you know, in case I need some cash for Sonic or whatever), but this past Mass, I decided to start practicing what I preached and gave it all (and resisted the urge to leap over the pew and grab it back from the usher once he’d passed).
B) I went to a benefit concert solely for the purpose of the listening to an amazing band but while there, actually learned what I was benefiting and now plan to do more, which I WILL figure out what because it’s been IDENTIFIED (and I still REALLY enjoyed listening to the music of The Elders and now I want to go to Ireland on tour with them in May!!).
4. I am going to speak up more when I think something sounds goofy. If I’m wrong, well then I will learn that I am wrong, and if someone thinks I’m a turd, then, well that keeps things interesting. “Interesting” is actually quite versatile.
5. I am going to put myself in more time-outs before I speak when I’m mad, terse, or believe that I was just insulted or slighted, and I will take this time to GENUINELY consider if that person has a point and if I am the above turd.
6. I’m going to say something nice to each person I encounter each day. Yes. And I’m going to try to be a mirror of hope. Cheesy, yes, but this is who I want to be. I would rather be called a stupid moldy cheese ball than a buzz kill narcissist-y person, which again, I fear can be my twin.
7. I’m going to text less, call more, and spend more time with people face to face in personal ways. And gossip less.
8. I’m going to ask people more questions about them and really listen without composing in my brain what I’m going to say next.
9. I’m going to be intentionally nicer to my mother.
10. I will pray more. And I will learn to pray better, starting with The Rosary.
11. I will finish reading The Kindness of Strangers (which is still not a fiction (another goal) but it’s not a work book… wooo yah!). Oh Tawni, Sister, I wish I had your "reading too many books" issue instead of "plopped down in front of the t.v. " issue. :)
And…………………dot dot dot………………more cool things. I will be like an open window to more really cool un-narcissistic things. Thanks for reading. Yizers.