Saturday, June 18, 2011
"The person who we think we are is the person that we would like to be."
Confession: I am a recovering narcissist. I developed the above quote around age 18 when I stepped outside the pool of narcissism I had been wading in my entire life. This is not to say that I didn't immediately return to the comforting waters nor does it suggest that I have entirely transitioned from it. Allow me explain the quote. Before I do however, you should know that as a recovering narcissist whatever I think/feel, you should think/feel.
It is my belief that there is a divide between the person who we think we are and the person who we are portraying to the outside world. I will generalize and say that in most cases I believe that our inner person will give a more favorable interpretation of the events when compared to reality. An example is this: A mother yells at her child for disobeying. The mother believes that she is instructing and nurturing the child while all the child hears is yelling. The mother may feel love in her heart for the child but the only thing translated in that moment is anger. It is my belief that this example extends further to our everyday interactions. Because we are stuck in our own bodies and because we continually allow ourselves the favorable end of each exchange we begin to formulate an idea in our minds of who we are. In our own mind then we begin to build a perception that we are a better version of ourselves than we actually are.
Where am I going with this and where does it get funny you ask? I suppose that starts right here. One specific moment stands out in my mind is a conversation I had with my father. Somewhere between the age of 14-18 I was talking with my dad. Back then a conversation involved me carrying on endlessly about whatever topic I could get my grubby hands on. In any conversation I was involved in I refused to let up until my opponent was beaten into submission and they agreed with me. Why wouldn't they agree with me? after all I was right and they were stupid. One one particular occasion I had trapped my father in the car and I was informing him on how the world works. He let me go on for a while before interjecting with one simple phrase. The singular phrase was this: "You know, I don't always think that you are right, I just agree with you sometimes so that you'll shut up." A little stunned I had finally been given a peek behind the curtain. In that moment I realized that perhaps people around the world were not waiting for my divine instruction rather in many cases I was just being placated so that I didn't create too big a disturbance.
Surely I, a superior being had in the past placated others. Certainly I had produced faux enthusiasm and interest in someone else's ideas, but my ideas, they were the work of a genius! My entire egocentric arc was dependent on maintaining the facade that I was greater than. If I wasn't then all of the characteristics of narcissistic personality order would be true. I did have a grandiose sense of self importance, I did have fantasies of unlimited success and power, I did have a strong sense of self entitlement. If at anytime what I might have been saying was untrue then I had in the past exploited others to achieve my own ends. Arrogant, haughty behaviors? Do three words exists that would have explained me better?
At this point, anyone who knows me in real life is laughing at my assertion that all of these ideas about myself are "in the past." Let me be clear, I am a recovering narcissist. What this means is that I have been trying to stay sober from these types of behaviors. Occasionally I fall back into my old ways, the difference is that now I am aware of my behavior as I am doing it or directly afterward. What this does is it helps me to change my perspective on any given situation and it allows me to see more clearly the stance/wants and desires of other people. The only problem left to conquer is that once I am able to see another persons perspective I need to able to concede to their point of view and unselfishly award them credit where credit is due.