This post is a part of an ongoing series entitled MIP (Man In Progress).After my 25th Birthday I decided to improve three aspects of my life, my physical well-being, my romantic relationships, and my writing career. My philosophy is that a writer’s work and his life are irrevocably intertwined and in order to improve one, we inevitably have to improve the other.
These days, people are lauded for being self-obsessed. Vanity is rampant. Superficiality is rewarded and praised. Our deep interconnectedness is often pushed aside in place of feeling more “special” than others.
Any victory is an independent one, not community-shared.
We are successful because we worked hard. We are wealthy because we earned it. We are deserving of this or that–because, well, its us. What other reason would we need to be deserving?
We are entitled. We are smug. We are spoiled.
The age of “me” has arrived.
We are, officially, the “selfie-generation.”
Narcissism Run Rampant
Lately, I have encountered the worst of the selfie-generation. I have encountered so many narcissistic people lately who value popularity over talent. Good looks over a good personality. Them over you.
The way these narcissists see it, you are always in their way. And if you are not “in their way,” you are supposed to help them “on their way,” and if you’re not doing either of those, then why the frak do you even exist?
At least that’s the feeling they seem to give off.
One byproduct of being immersed in the selfie-generation culture is the constant, nagging feeling of being used, abused, ignored, undermined, mistreated, under-appreciated, and often invisible.
You are never truly cared about for your true, unseen, value. You are used up and then tossed aside. It is almost vampiric in nature. (Caroline Myss says that our sudden and strange obsession with vampires in modern popular culture is symbolic: it represents the fact that we, as a species, are imbalanced and instead of restoring our own creative energy through silent introspection, we deplete it constantly and replenish it by feeding off of the energy of others.)
Narcissists are often “blood suckers.” They often take from you what they need for their ego-centric self to survive and are often charming and enigmatic (better to lure you in so that they can steal your inner peace and claim it as their own). Narcissistic people seem to know the exact way to push your buttons in order to make you feel “less than” and unimportant compared to them, so they can immediately turn the spotlight back on them and on how you can help them achieve their goals.
I often feel fully spent and exhausted after I’ve spent considerable time with a narcissist.
I am classically drawn to narcissists because I have the habit of being the savior. I love to help people and give of myself to people. I hate to see people suffer and often am eager to put myself second in order to help another. This need to help others can be good, but it can also have its shadow side: it can leave me feeling used, abused, bitter and angry–causing me to lash out on the innocent people in my life who had nothing to do with the blood-sucking vampires who I gave away my power to.
Over the years, I have learned the hard way to not to be lured in by the narcissist’s false cry for help. I know I will only leave that situation feeling depleted and leaving the narcissist just as sick and in need of help as when I first encountered them. As a rule, the narcissistic only gives you crumbs of love, so as to lure you in, convincing you there is more than just those crumbs he can give. But you’d be wise to realize that the narcissist is nearly depleted, and so he only gives you crumbs, because that’s literally all he ever has to give. You would be wise to spend more time with people who know how to replenish themselves–without having to suck others of their life force–and, therefore, can offer you never-ending buckets of love.
If you are like me, a natural giving and loving person, then it is likely that a narcissist has tried to take advantage of you. They are like sharks who can smell blood in a water, I swear. Please know that the reason these narcissists like to attack you is not because you deserve it or you are being punished, but because these narcissistic people are both incredibly threatened by you and incredibly drawn to your life force. You see, you are overflowing with that which they lack: self-love.
Their intention is to rob that from you so that they can have it. That is why you might noticed that you move away from self-love and move into self-hatred after spending a lot of time with a narcissist.
Become aware of that and use the energy of narcissism to free you instead of shackle you.
Ironically, you can only defeat a narcissistic if you embrace the positive side of narcissism: which manifests itself in the consistent, healthy habit of self-care and a daily practice of deep self-instrospection.
Sometimes, Being Narcissistic Is Necessary: Here’s Why.
Every positive feature of our culture has its shadow, this is true, but every negative feature of our culture also has its light.
This is true of narcissism.
To explain: the only way a narcissist really survives is if people play his game: if we all act like moons orbiting his planet then he can only assume that he really is the center of the universe. If, however, we drop away from his sick orbit and become our own healthy and self-loving “planet,” we will find ourselves regaining our inner-peace, our inner-power and our inner-grace.
In general, most people could care less what you do with your life because they believe the world revolves around them. Ever the more reason to not be afraid to inhabit your own damn planet and care less what they think about you.
This is not to say that you should now acquire your own spinning moons to laud you with false praises, it simply means that you will step back and recognize that we are all each planets in this universe, and we are all equally deserving of attention.
Now, we can embrace the negative aspects of our current trends and become as superficial and egotistical as the rest of them. Or we can do something far wiser and far more efficient (and far more healthy): we can take the energy of narcissism and use it to our benefit. We can use it to refocus on our inner life and see if we are truly feeling fulfilled and happy inside.
We can take a soul-fie.
World In Progess
Yesterday, I turned 29.
When I turned 25, I created this “Man In Progress” series on my blog to map my internal progress as a human being living in the modern world.
Up until now, my progress has been self-obssessed, true, but in a good way. I needed time to look within and understand who I was, what I was doing here, heal all the broken parts of me, and uncover what it was that made me feel joy.
But now that this inner journey is complete, and I feel myself overflowing with fulfillment and self-love, it is time to release the energy of narcissism and look outside of me for once.
From now on, my progress will be centered on our inter-connection, and not on my self-connection.
My progress will no longer be about “me,” it will be about “we.”
As I turn 29 years old, I have matured enough to realize that your needs are just as important as my needs; and my needs are just as important as your needs.
I know that seems like a simple statement. But I dare you to repeat it a few times out loud and look around to see if you are truly behaving in a matter that honors that truth in your life. I will bet you a million bucks that as soon as you walk out of your front door you will see an instance in which this sentence is not being honored by you and the majority of our society.
As part of the collective, I can now recognize myself as an important character in the ongoing story of my seemingly self-obssessed generation. I truly believe that my generational counterparts are going through the beginnings of a grand spiritual awakening. However subtle it may appear, their self-portraits–blasted across the digital space wherever you look–are more than superficial, innocent gestures.
Something truly powerful begins to occur when you begin to turn the camera away from the masses, and point it directly at yourself. You see, when you turn the “camera”–or your focus–on yourself, you emerge as a unique, important individual that deserves equal attention in a world of 7 billion.
(This “narcissistic” refocus on oneself and ones own needs is the place from which I created this blog nearly five years ago, and look how far the journey took me!)
The selfie is really just a symbol hinting at an overarching theme. It is a physical representation of the deep longing we all have to truly know ourselves, to look within and draw on the secret power that resides within each of us.
The selfie-generation is secretly on track to becoming the we-generation. They just don’t know it yet.
And as a member of this new generation, I suppose I’m a few steps ahead: because I now find myself a bit tired of telling the story of me.
I’m now far more eager to begin telling the story of you and me.
Today’s Courage Exercise
If you are dealing with a narcissistic person, remember that the only way to deal with a narcissistic person is by using the energy of narcissism to remind you to practice self-care and self-introspection. (Don’t let The Narcissist pull you into his orbit. Instead, become your own planet so that his pull of gravity is matched.)
If you have been using the energy of narcissism to focus on your own progress and now feel fulfilled and joyful, take the courageous next step: let go of the energy of narcissism and look to the world and the people around you. After so many years obsessed with your personal well-being, it’s time to become obsessed with our collective well-being.
MIP PROGRESS REPORT CARD
(September 2013 – September 2014)
Course: Career 101
Course: Romantic Relationships 101
Course: Physical Well-Being 101
Course: Manhood (Interdisciplinary)
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