Ever want to tell a narcissist off? These egomaniacs need to know that they’re not special. They’re not that great either. They’re certainly not entitled to jack, and they need to get over themselves. No one cares.
Sounds about right. Or does it? Are we really surrounded by self absorbed people only interested in power, success, beauty, and being special? Or is there another explanation?
According to Brene’ Brown, Phd in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead states, “And while laypeople are using narcissism as a catchall diagnosis for everything from arrogance to rude behavior, researchers and helping professionals are testing the concept’s elasticity in every way imaginable. Recently a group of researchers conducted a computer analysis of three decades of hit songs. The researchers reported a statistically significant trend toward narcissism and hostility in popular music. In line with their hypothesis, they found a decrease in usages such as we and us and an increase in I and me. The researchers also reported a decline in words related to social connection and positive emotions, and an increase in words related to anger and antisocial behavior, such as hate or kill. Two of the researchers from that study, Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell, authors of the book The Narcissism Epidemic, argue that the incidence of narcissistic personality disorder has more than doubled in the United States in the last ten years.”
What’s the cause of this behavior? More importantly how can understanding this behavior make you a better person and better able to parent, live, love and lead?
At the heart of this behavior is shame. Shame-based fear of being ordinary. We live in a “never enough” society and from our early years we are faced with a barrage comparing you against what you don’t have versus what others think you should have. It’s prevalent in the media, virtual TV and social media.
Shame resides in many people where they think less of themselves and they make up a story in their mind that if people really saw who they really are that others would not accept them. Shame causes people to believe they are not worthy of that which they want most; love, belonging and acceptance. They don’t think “they” are enough. This belief causes a person to begin to pretend to be someone other than who they really are. It even causes people to want to label someone as a narcissist. Playing the blame game is not healthy and doesn’t lead to compassion and thus healing.
Brene Brown says regarding cutting down a narcissit, “If you’re like me, you’re probably wincing a bit and thinking, Yes. This is exactly the problem. Not with me, of course. But in general… this sounds about right! It feels good to have an explanation, especially one that conveniently makes us feel better about ourselves and places the blame on those people. In fact, whenever I hear people making the narcissism argument, it’s normally served with a side of contempt, anger, and judgment.”
Our society needs you to be courageous to face the real issue today; the feeling of inadequacy, i.e. a person isn’t enough. This is the genesis of the narcissistic behavior of acting in power, self absorption and greed. To act in a way that gives a person a false belief that they will be accepted. Our society needs leaders to inspire and teach others with compassion, especially children, to help them understand and believe they are enough. Being “out there”, acting authentically and exposing oneself for all to see. To have courage to let go of who you think others want you to be and truly embrace who you really are.
In Marianne Williamson’s book A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles she says,
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
The last line has an answer to leading others to be free of the label of narcissism. She states, “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” The fear she refers to is that others will not accept you for being who you really are. The fear that you will be criticized. The fear that you will not be loved. The need and desire for human connection is deep within every human being that walks the earth. Acting out of shame and believing you are not enough causes you to be defined by others. Yet with courage to be who you really are, to be authentic, to be “liberated from your own fear” creates the leader that inspires others and just “your presence” will “automatically liberate others” of their fear.
The next time you feel a need to cut down a narcissist, or anyone else for that matter, as a way to justify your own fears of inadequacy and make you feel better about yourself, reflect on courage and compassion. Every person is fighting a battle of some sort. Its much better to fight together than to act alone.