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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Positive narcissist vs. negative narcissist vs. balanced view

A while bac, I was having a conversation with a person whose kid sees himself negatively.  While I don't necessarily think what I am writing below applies directly to the kid,  the conversation did remind me of a theory or view I had developed on narcissism.

We all have ran across someone who behaves as if their stuff doesn't stink.   Similarly, we all have run across someone who is like  Eeyore who is gloomy, negative and often rates his or herself no good.  I call the first type a 'positive narcissist' (or simply a 'narcissist') and the second type a 'negative narcissist'.  I will elaborate on why I see both types as narcissists.

I don't know when, but it occurred to me that both types actually have a lot in common:
  • Each type of person is being emotionally, intellectually, mentally and/or spiritually lazy.
    • It is easy to label and/or rationalize to yourself that you are either just good or bad.   If you decide that you are either 'perfect' or 'rotten' by nature then you don't have to continually evaluate yourself.
    • It takes much more work to actually dig and effectively evaluate yourself.  It takes much more work to separate the flaws from the virtues. 
  • Each type is disconnected from his or herself.  
    • Once again, labeling yourself as just a great person or horrible one or the other frees you from having to process or evaluate yourself.
    • You can easily stay at the surface level and find an example or two to support your contention.
  • Each type disconnected from others.
    • A narcissist by his or her very nature has hard time has accepting anything that could be seen as criticism.  By itself, this shuts down much of the conversation that is possible with others.  Furthermore, the self-focus drowns out the ability to see ability to see past oneself and really see others.
    • A negative narcissist by his or her nature has a hard time accepting anything that could be seen as a compliment.  Once again, this shuts down much of the conversation that is possible.  Once again, the self-focus gets in the way of being able to really others.
  • Each type has issues with humility.  
    • A narcissist lacks humility.  He or she may feign humility, but it's usually pretty easy to see through the false humility.
    • A negative narcissist in a way lacks true humility too.  He or she may come across as not wanting to be egotistical, but what I see it as is really a defense mechanism.  To accept praise or to self-praise requires one to step outside his or her predefined role as a 'no-good' or 'worthless' person.  In a way, in the deflecting praise is not being modest, but rather a way of avoiding the shattering the 'negative self-portrayal'.
  • Each type gives a way of freeing the individual with the given personality of culpability or responsibility.
    • A narcissist will tend to think of his or herself as being incapable of making a bad decision or failing.   When they actually do make a bad decision or fail, he or she will either:
      • Push fault on another (scapegoat).
      • Push fault on the cosmos (it was beyond me control, even if it wasn't)
      • Spin the poor decision as a good decision (or intentional) and the failure as insignificant or really actually a success.
    • A negative narcissist will portray themselves as fatally flawed and incapable of doing anything but making bad decisions or failing.
      • In their mind and heart this frees them.  After all, if I am destined to fail, in a way what does it matter how I got there?  In other words, since I am going to fail anyway, I can choose the 'selfish' option as it will end up bad either way.
      • If I blame myself for everything, then in a way I am blaming myself for nothing.  In other words, I am not really evaluating my role, but rather just sticking a label on myself and the situation.  Just like sticking a label on a batch of cookies that look good without actually sampling them to make sure it is good.
  •  Each type has esteem issues.
    • Narcissim is often a way overcompensating for insecurity.  A narcissist, in buying into their inflated sense of self, often is trying insulates his or herself from the effects of their insecurity.  After all, if I buy my own hype, then I can suppress and otherwise ignore my deeply buried insecurity.  Thus anyone who poses a threat to bring them down to earth, threatens their cushion against insecurity.
    • A negative narcissist in a sense has bought into his or her own insecurity or low esteem.  When assessing his or herself, a negative narcissist has effectively conceeded that their insecurity or esteem problems are legitimate.  In other words, they've decided that they are implicitly bad and/or a failure and therefore will tend to focus on that which 'supports' their contention.

I think most people have an element of each--positive and negative--narcissism in them.  It is healthy to think of oneself as inherently good.  But, it is also healthy to think of oneself as having the ability to make mistakes.  It is when a person doesn't attempt to balance out the ledger--see the good and the bad--that a person is not really mentally, emotionally, or spiritually healthy.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Just a gigolo - lacking a feeling of purpose or sense of being appreciated.

I think at times in most people's life they wonder: what am I here for or what is my purpose?  Alternatively they may wonder would I be missed if I wasn't here or would the people I know care about me if I couldn't do anything for them?  In other words, am I appreciated for who I am or just what I can do for others?

Sometimes it's a moment of insecurity.  Sometimes it's a stage of sadness or depression.  Sometimes, it's an idle curiosity.  I believe that some of wealthiest, most popular or famous people actually feel this more acutely.  They seemingly have more on the surface to offer.  So much so that people around them don't take the time to get to know them.  It is easier to enjoy the glow of their fame or the shower of their wealth than to actually invest in getting to know them.

Anyway, "Just a Gigolo" captures it perfectly: this sense of lacking purpose, reason and a curiosity if at the end of the day if one is appreciated.

In this video David Lee Roth is a singer, a VJ, a showman.   After recording a clip of "Dave TV", he has a small gaggle of people coming up to him looking for something from him: one needs David to autograph paperwork for her kids while the others seem to be yes men seeking to leech off his fame.

Anyway, he wonders what he would do if he could do his own video.

In the video he knows that he has something to offer--his companionship--and that will keep him busy and give him the false sense of being appreciated while he is young.  But, in his heart, he know that won't last.  In his heart he knows when he grows old, he won't be able to count on even that to keep him feeling appreciated.   In a sense, he wonders will anyone care about him when he apparently has nothing left to offer.   It is really quite sad.  He puts on a show with pizzazz with flair and apparent sense of fun, but in a way that just masks a sadness that he feels about his real value.


What it has meant to me at times in the past:

Am I appreciated for shallow reasons--to provide a service or meet a shallow need of another?  Or am I sincerely appreciated for who I am and/or do I have a larger purpose? 


What I see it can mean:

Does my employer appreciate me for the value I add or am I just a paid gun for hire to be disposed of when they've got what they needed out of me?

Just some idle thoughts.  Anyway, my daughter and marriage family helps me to realize that life just wouldn't go on without me.


The 'insane' little voice in our head and entertaining ourselves

My church--Harvester Church of the Nazarene is in a transition period.  Our beloved lead pastor of 17 years--I think it was that length--retired this spring and we are looking for a permanent replacement.  So, we've had guest speakers/ministers take on the role of leading while the board and the district find someone to fill that role.  Anyway, Rev. Michael (Mike) Palmer gave a good sermon about being real with our church family.  Anyway, details aside about that, sometimes when I am tired my mind drift, one time the minister said that Jesus said "Follow me" and my face immediately lit up with a smile as my mind drafted to the Uncle Kracker song of that name.  Anyway, I thought about that again this morning and smiled again and got to thinking about how the mind operates.  This all reminded me of my something I've long thought...

I've often asserted that each of us has voices in our head.
  • A voice of reason.
  • A voice of insanity
  • A voice of good and proper.
  • A voice of deviousness. 
 The voice of good and proper is often depicted as little angel version of us on one shoulder.  The voice of deviousness on the other hand is often depicted as a little devil version of us on the other shoulder.

 The voice of good and proper of course is depicted as the killjoy.  The voice of deviousness is considered the funny one.  But, I digress.   I will focus on the voice of deviousness.

I refer to the devious or 'bad' voice as the voice of insanity.  It doesn't care what trouble it gets you into.  It just wants to be inappropriate, funny, even a little mean.  I believe that voice comes out more when you are super tired, under a lot of stress, or have had a bit too much wine.  It is a battle sometimes, the voice of good (VOG) says don't say it or do it while the voice of deviousness (VOD) says, go ahead and say it or do it.  The VOD is like a little like a kid who keeps on asking his or her mom or dad for permission even after their parents have said no.  Eventually, the VOD hopes to wear us down and sometimes it succeeds.  We give in or cave hoping that it will leave us alone and it does for a while often.

When I "go there", I explain it away by saying the "insane" voice in my head told me to say it and I had to listen or say, "there I said it, got it out of the way and will never have to say it again".  My other favorite line is that "I was just following the script and the script said this and you know you can't go against the script".   You know as if there is a script and we can't step out of character.

I will wrap this up by letting my insane voice talk a little.  My insane voice wanted to tell you that he was behind these situation (or at least how I handled them).

  •  My fiancee Kristi was at church with me when the minister said that Jesus instructed his disciples to "Follow Me" and I smiled looked over at her and let her in on my imagining Him dancing and singing and instructing them to "Follow Me" like Uncle Kracker did.
  • One episode of Extreme Home Makeover I was watching as the gang built this house for this poor lady who was in a wheelchair who had a disease which made her bones brittle and easily breakable.  Anyway, the did all kinds of things to make it safe for her.  At the end of the show they put their hands and arms in a circle and said, "Go team" or whatever and quickly lifted them up.  I imagined them accidentally knocking over the poor old lady and giggled.  My ex wondered what was so funny.  I prefaced it by saying I know this is not right, but... Of course, she didn't particularly think it was funny, but I noted that I didn't try to think it and warned her before I told her.
  •  I noticed my cat Simon when I was sort of walking in front of him, his eyes were following me and it occurred to me at a later point, I wonder if this applies to humans too.  So, at a later point, I started pacing back in forth in front of my ex to test this theory and found that humans can't help but to naturally follow us as we move back and forth too.   Of course, she said, "stop that" at which time I let her in on my testing a theory.  Olivia just stared back when I tried this on her: smart girl.
  • I liked the song, "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" and had just heard it.  My dog Sherman was around and so was Olivia's grandma and her mom.  I noted Sherman's nice colors and markings.  Anyway, my insane voice said, how about the song from Sherman's perspective.  "And the colored dogs go 'bark ba bark bark ba bark..." Make a bark on the wild side.  I believe they thought I was crazy, but even so, they had to laugh at that one.  She said, "where did you find him?", meaning me.
  • One my all time favorites is when someone asks a question or talks about something and I just stare at them and don't say anything.  I've noticed that most of the time we seem to thrive on or expect feedback whether it is just a nod or "uh huh" or whatever.  So, depriving them of feedback can sometimes discombobulate them.   
Messing with the mind of someone who has a sense of humor is fun, but sometimes it is even more fun messing with the mind of someone who doesn't.  Anyway, back to I of course, being me, discussed this concept of the good vs. devious voice with Olivia and she seemed to understand and appreciate that.  I expect to get payback one day from Olivia for unleashing my devious voice a bit on her.

I have told a few friends that it's okay to have the funny voices in your head provided that they don't start calling, "Gloria, Gloria".   I will let you all figure out what I mean by that reference.  Hint: look and listen below:  Haha

P.S.  The voice in my head has nagged me to write this blog for a while and I finally caved to it.  Haha

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Finding peace in the eye of the storm vs. shelter from it.

I recently had a dream about my late father.  In it, I was dealing with the insanity that characterized his last two plus years of his life.  He had gone from walking at the park, to having some trouble walking, to having a lot of trouble walking, to have a walking followed by falling at times.  At first, it was every blue moon, then it became a fairly regular occurrence.  He was living by himself and I helped him as much as my situation allowed, but it got to be ridiculous.  At some point, medical professionals started to note this progression and said that he needed to be in at least assisted living.  Eventually, they all said he needs constant care (or at least to have someone readily available 24/7) to help him.   Over time the level of necessary help became more acute all the time.  (originally posted 9/3/15)

Anyway, on a number of occasions, he went to the hospital after having a fall.   I would meet him there stay with him and then returned him home with me having to leave eventually.  This went on for a while until I realized how absurd the pattern was and it was hammered into my by medical staff.  Yet, my dad kept insisting on going home after each ER visit.  I eventually walked away and let the system take over.  I told the social worker I can't be part of this insanity.  They are under pressure by the insurance company to not let a patient overstay their hospital need.   So, instead of someone being there to take him home, a social worker convinced him to go to a nursing home at that time.  He accepted that initially, but he kept wanting to go home.  That was not going to happen as I could not in good conscience let him be at his house alone for any long stretch of time.   I was in a rut where I stopped seeing him for a while and limited contact with him as he was pressing to "go back home".  I needed to walk away for my mental health rather than let him attempt to bully me into allowing him in an unsafe situation.  Eventually, I got the strength to reconnect, but it was a constant battle.  He'd be fine and then say, "I want to go home" out of nowhere.  As his son and POA, I could not in good conscience facilitate that.  I made it known to family and friends that I wasn't going allow him into an unsafe/unsupervised environment and that I did not want to do them to either.

Anyway, the upshot is this: I was in the storm (of a dad refusing to face reality and being mean or pushy about it at times) and I eventually found the eye of the storm--a safe place.  But, in order to get to that place I had to set aside my feelings of sadness that I would never have the chance to see eye to eye with him.  I had to set aside the fact that it wasn't the happiest point in our relationship.  I had to set aside the feelings of going against what he 'wanted' and had to make choices/push back with what he needed.

Eventually, he got too sick to 'fight'.  The storm ebbed as he got closer to the end and he passed away on May 1st, 2015.  This ended that storm.  The battle had ended for him, but the battle of fighting a delusional parent as he got less able to take care of himself had ended too.

I did what I needed to as a responsible son at the time, but it hurt.  I have finally had a chance to exhale and feel the sadness of losing my dad way before he physically passed.  I finally had  a chance to process the battle with a sick parent who wasn't facing reality.  I did what I needed to cope and now have a chance like after a storm "to assess the damage".  This is healthy I think.


I've come to some realizations about life's rough storms.

  • Sometimes we do what we need to to cope and do not have the vision to see how it affects others and we do not have the vision to see that a given storm is unnecessary.  
    • For example, you are with someone controlling, in your codependency, your finding the eye of the storm is doing whatever it takes to make or keep the other 'happy' or at least off your case.  Instead of seeing you could walk away from the storm, you search for an eye.  In the process you walk or push away from others who are a safe distance from the storm.
    • It is so much easier to see later that you weren't away from the storm, but instead were in the peace of the eye of the storm.   It's so easy when we are trying to escape the debris to see that we could have found a safer place.  It's so easy to second guess.  It's so easy to say what if or maybe I could have made better choices or handled it better.  But, sometimes we just have to accept that perhaps we aren't used to storms.
  • Sometimes we have no choice.  We aren't in a position where we can take shelter from the storm, so what we need to do is find the safest place within the actual storm (the eye).  In other words, there are no great choices, so we have to choose the best of all bad options.
  • After the storm has passed and you've had time to survey the damage you have a choice how to view it.
    • You could play the role of the victim and say poor me and wallow in the storm. (self-pity)
    • You could play the role of the martyr/hero and say no biggie and pretend the storm didn't happen.  (denial)
    • You could play the thoughtful one and say that the storm was dangerous and destructive.  I have to find a way to pick up the mess it left and mourn the damage that was done and get to the place where I need to be.  (realist/healthy).  
If you are old enough, life will throw storms your way.  If we open our minds and hearts to the lessons and God's wisdom, we can learn from storms and prepare better for the next ones.  We can find takeaways from the storm and not be stuck in the damage of the storm (self-pity).

We have our roles, see  Main in Motion.  Storms can actually clarify our roles.  We just have to not let ourselves be caught up in the storm itself and be destroyed.