Oh the irony, I finally found a topic I’m absolutely fascinated by and it’s my ‘self’.
It’s something I’ve rejected for the longest time because that’s bad right?
I mean all those self words in the dictionary are not aspirational: selfish, self-opinionated,self-centered and well, ‘selfless’ has always been held aloft as a religious ideal and the purest form of love.
Not really a fair fight?
Ok, so first the similarities: straight from Psych Central.com how to spot a narcissist article:
“In order to survive, this child had to construct a protective barrier that insulates him/her from the external world of people. He generalized that all people are harmful and cannot be trusted.
The protective insulation barrier he constructed is called a false persona. He created a false identity. This identity is not the true person inside. The many types of false personas or identities that an extreme narcissist creates can vary.
Some narcissists may have the ability to change into a variety of identities according to the situation. The wounded child inside may choose to present a front as a “bad ass” and tough individual. He may look, by appearance, intimidating and scary to the average person. He could also play the “nice guy/person” whom everyone likes. A corporate type version can be one that is diplomatic, proper, and appearing to care but in reality does not. Another very likeable extreme narcissist can be the one that chooses the comedian role. He is the life of the party and has everyone in stitches, making them laugh constantly. Everyone wants to include this person because they are a lot of fun.”
Now I’ve been false personifying with the best of them:
When I was moved primary schools three times to get a better education.
When I was told little girls should be seen and not heard.
When I passed the eleven plus for one of the top girls grammar schools in the country, from what the government classified as an area of deprivation. Every time I cleaned out a maths cupboard when they all went skiing or off on a field trip.
When I learnt to drive, taking my father to and from the working man’s clubs he frequented and also learnt to take ‘stick’ from the pissed up patrons.
When I lost myself in my first relationship with a man 7 years my senior who liked me despite my colour.
When I fished cucumber out of my first glass of Pimms at University.
When I answered illegal interview questions on what my father did for a living and whether or not I was planning on having a family.
When I was the only brunette on my table at the PR awards and wasn’t A) Related to someone in the industry B) Sleeping with one of the managerial staff or C) Visiting the bathroom to (put) powder (up) my nose.
When I was told that having an opinion was a little too aggressive.
When I earnt over six figures managing poor performers out of corporate business.
When I was told to slow up, tone it down, be smaller, quieter.
When I studied for my postgraduate course in pyschodynamic counseling whilst suffering with post natal depression.
When I started my first business and those I thought would be happy for me, weren’t.
When I tried to navigate the cliques of mums at the school gate when we moved house.
We lose ourselves. Lost in institutions like schools, in relationships, in careers, in labels and roles.
Adapting our behaviour to our surroundings is one thing, but ask yourself have you really created false personas?
Looking into the other symptoms:
Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
Requires excessive admiration
Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
How well do they fit? You can take a quiz here to find out.
The real nub of this for me is that the narcissist is the master of deception, adaptation and hiding.
They do it so well that they have hidden their real sense of self even from themselves. To connect to their true feelings, to uncover really who they are,honestly, within and under their own layers for me is the quest of selfology and therefore part of the cure not the condition.
One of the most common compliments I receive is
“That’s what I love about you Sarah you treat everyone the same no matter what class, colour, job title or background”
And I did, I tried to fit in with all of you.
Getting back to myself is one of the most life changing thing I’ve done.
Now I will. I will try to connect with everyone open to connection. I will recognise our commonalities not our differences and let go of the need to adapt and contort myself around them.
When and where have you lost yourself?
Image cropped and edited. Original Photo Credit