Narcissism

written 8/17/21

updated 1/21/2023

Hello, humans. I hope you are doing well at the time you are reading this. I hope life is peaceful and manageable. But if it’s difficult right now, you can be your own anchor in the storm. I’m so glad you’re here to learn, ground yourself and make it through those difficult moments – in your own way, in your own time, in your own space.

“If it’s difficult right now, you can be your own anchor in the storm.”

– Jamie, Surthrivor

Today’s growth tip is: it’s good to notice unpleasant truths about yourself. It stings a bit initially, but the long-term results of owning up to our shortcomings are well-worth the work. I’ll share one of my unpleasant truths and how this new level of self-awareness and radical self-acceptance came about from learning that I had narcissistic behaviors I needed to STOP, immediately.

Oxford Languages, defines narcissism as “excessive interest in or admiration of oneself; a lack of empathy, grandiosity, entitlement, and validation seeking.”

It’s me. Ouch.

This topic came steamrolling into my life in the form of an audiobook by Caroline Foster, “Narcissistic Mothers: How to Handle A Narcissistic Parent and Recover from CPTSD.” It was one of those out of nowhere “who me?” experiences; quickly followed by, “oops, let’s take care of that. ” This audiobook was a great eye-opener and I highly recommend it. It wasn’t an instant-gratification book, it could be best described as savored. So while not feeling pleasant, to say the least, realizing my narcissistic patterns opened the door for me to create new patterns.

Caroline Foster’s audiobook opened my eyes to patterns I needed to let go of, and then I did the work of finding new patterns that would be healthier for me and my family. Because when I grow, everyone interacting with me wins. So I went on a “teach me how to parent the way my children need me to” learning quest.

✅ A constant need for external validation, check.

✅ Self-importance in the form of being in charge, check.

✅ Entitlement, OUCH – defined as “the unreasonable expectation that one should receive special treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations” in this article on PsychologyToday.com. I.E. “I don’t need to wait in line because….”

✅ An inflated sense of self-importance, ouch! “Without me, this couldn’t happen.”

Narcissistic Personality Disorder vs Narcissistic Behaviors

People can have narcissistic tendencies and not have narcissistic personality disorder. PHEW! There is always hope, see?

I learned that narcissistic behaviors fall on a spectrum; from every-day-Jane who falls into the category, “everyone is self-centered sometimes” to as extreme as raging Karen who acts as though the world must bow to her.

It was a relief to know that I have the power to choose my own attitudes and behaviors, and that I could unlearn ANY old patterns of thinking and behavior…

Let me set the stage for a mindset comparison example: your coworker gets a promotion at work. A self-accepting thought pattern might sound like, “Olivia got a promotion, good for her.” Or on a really great positive self-talk day we may add, “I’m on track to meet my goals too. I’ve got my plan and action steps and I am seeing success in my life too!”

On the other hand, a narcissistic thought pattern may sounds like, “Olivia got a promotion? Why? I’ve been here longer. I’ve got higher degrees than Olivia. I’ve brought in more revenue this quarter than Olivia. I deserve to be promoted more than her. This is not fair.” All of those points are likely true. And it may absolutely feel unfair. And I never saw this thought pattern for what it was: victim mentality. I finally worked my way out and learned that intrusive thoughts allowed to run wild will turn into narcissistic thinking. A sneaky thing about narcissistic behaviors is that they piggy-back off of intrusive thoughts. It’s the same as two of your children teaming up against you; they sound more convincing as a duet. so how do we know when to believe a thought and when to call it an intrusive thought? Since catching those intrusive thoughts and redirecting our thoughts is how we nip those old behaviors in the butt, including narcissism.

I made the brave, kick-ass decision to own it – and to change, immediately. I HAD TO STOP doing that to my beautiful children. The desire to be a healthy, stable mother outweighed my previous need for denial and external self-importance. I had to be willing to face the fact that my inner wounded child was running the show pretending to be a grown up. I had to choose to learn how to cultivate my inner wise woman and let her run the show. I learned this concept from Karallyn Streit, founder of Deep Roots Mystery School.

She graciously joined me for a podcast episode that you can listen to here.

How Did I Begin To Change?

I made the conscious choice not to harm my children any further. I accepted the truth of children needing their parents’ connection and assurance and admiration/support. I began reading articles on responsive parenting like this one. The gentle parenting that I had once scoffed at now became a lifeline to a better way for me. The ideas of treating children as humans instead of as an extension of myself was a brand new concept to me. I did NOT want my children to know the pain of being around only for my own validation. I did NOT want my children to feel they were unwanted or unlovable if their mother was avoiding them, giving them the silent treatment, or straight up yelling her disappointment at them.

While I was listening to the audiobook “Narcissistic Mothers” by Caroline Foster, every time a mental finger pointed at my own mother’s behaviors, three more fingers pointed back at me.

Now that I was acknowledging and seeing the behaviors and mental patterns that I wanted to change, how did I do that? I delved deep into the land of information available on the internet. I reached out to people like Karallyn Streit, I journaled, I cried, I took advantage of having access to therapy. I began to acknowledge that my self-hate was spilling over into my interactions with my children, and that I HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO CHANGE – unless I chose to ignore the truth and continue psychologically harming my own children. This was no longer about me being the victim of a narcissistic mother; it was now about me behaving like a narcissistic mother.

It was time to grow up a little bit more, and a little bit more. I am liking the person that I am today. It takes willingness, but I know you’ve got what it takes. So give it a try, being a little more open-minded about how much time you really spend on you. There is a balance in taking care of yourself and in making room for others. There is plenty of room for you here.

Thanks for reading,

Jamie

Published by Surthrivor

Surthrivor: a survivor who takes control of their own recovery.

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