Narcissism In The Work Place – Redux

I see a lot of search terms in my stats that include “narcissim in the work place”  and “how to spot narcissism in the work place.”

The first and best bit of advice I can provide is this:  It’s just as difficult to spot it, initially, as it is in personal interactions.  Narcissists abound, within and without the workplace.  So be aware; prepare not only for the technical aspects of your interview, but have a small list of characteristics beneath your note-taking page to remind you what to look for.

When you first interview for a job, you’re usually so excited that you got the interview, and you’re so focused on doing your best in that interview that you don’t notice body language, tones of voice, and/or certain other behaviors that could be dead giveaways that you are interviewing with a narcissist.

Before I discuss that, though, let me say this:  If you are interviewing and/or work in corporate America, you can bet your sweet little bippie that you are surrounded by narcissists.  Perhaps your department isn’t rife with them; perhaps the individual in the cube next to you isn’t one.  You can rest assured, however, that at some point, you WILL run into one.

I suggest you first read this post.  It will open in a new tab.  Read it before you go on an interview.  Read some of the other posts I have here on NPD and Narcissists.  That won’t guarantee you won’t wind up working with a narcissist, but forewarned is forearmed.

As a rule, you don’t recognize a narcissist until they’ve already damaged you.  The average non-NPD simply doesn’t think the same way a narcissist does, and many of us have experienced the devastating fallout that comes from working with a narcissist, to the point of losing our jobs.

Narcissists will win.  Even if you manage to block a move or two, they will manage to tap dance around you, and the abuse will escalate.

Even in these tough times, I advise getting out if you find yourself in a nest of narcissim, or if you are working with one powerful enough to destroy you.  You’ll know, because your stress level will be intolerable, you will find that you are questioning your sanity where you never did prior to working with this individual and you will find that you have become grist for the rumor mill.  You go in as grain and you never come out . You simply keep getting ground.

It is better to be poor and have your self-esteem intact; to be happy with who you are, than to be financially comfortable and in constant fear for your sanity, health (stress will kill you), and miserable.

We all have choices.  Some may seem very painful at first and we don’t like pain.  No one does. Sometimes the most painful choices are the ones that are best for us and our families.

Jus’ sayin!

 

It’s Neither Optimism Nor Pessimism; It’s Reality

Earlier today, I emailed a friend with some of my thoughts from this post.  It was that email and her reaction that inspired the post.  I’d mentioned the portions about what I’d read on Craigslist and how heartbreaking I found it to be.  Her reply was to tell me, sarcastically, how optimistic I was being and then she went on to say that she did agree that we were heading for a depression.

First let me state that my email was neither optimistic nor pessimistic.  It wasn’t negative or positive.  It was merely the reality of what is going on right now, all over this country.  Her response shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.  I’ve known her for more than a decade and found her to be firmly grounded in reality.

I think the reason there has been such a glut of “reality” tv shows about those in truly unfortunate situations (think Hoarders) is that it enables us to deflect attention from the reality of our individual situations.  We can look at a show like Hoarders and pat ourselves on the back that while we may be messy and somewhat of a pack-rat, at least we’re not that bad.

I think my friend’s reply to my email hides her very real and present fear that it could be her.  It may well be her, if things continue the way they’re going.  No one wants to confront that kind of fear, so they shove it into denial; they become sarcastic, and sometimes they get blatantly angry.

Sarcasm can be an extremely good smokescreen for anger.  Generally, when one replies in a sarcastic manner, what they really want to say (because they don’t like what you’re saying) is “will you shut up already???” It’s easier and more socially acceptable for us to display anger than it is to display fear, just as it’s easier for us to cast about attempting to find a scapegoat for our situations rather than own any portion of accountability that is ours.

I’m here to tell you, right smack in your face, that I’m very much afraid.  I don’t allow that fear to govern me, but I am not ashamed to admit it.  I do my best to see the positive in things – sometimes so much so that I’m a bit like Pollyanna.  I am an idealist at heart, but I’ve learned not to allow my heart to rule my actions.   When I say I’m heartbroken by some of what I’ve read lately, it’s true.  I’m also realistic about it.  I can’t get mired in that.  I can’t allow someone else’s situation to govern the way I think and feel about my own situation.

I made a statement to a family member recently to the effect that if I’d listened to the parental unit when I was a teen, if I had done things their way instead of thinking I knew better, I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in right now.  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  The reality of my situation is that what has happened to me may well have happened whether I’d listened to Mom and Dad or not, all those years ago.  The reality of my situation is this:

In the past two years I have been downsized, found a job, moved out of state for that job, downsized before I could start my new job, found myself unemployed for 3 months during which time I was uninsured and had to have emergency surgery, found a job, got transferred to where I live now because the office in the state where I had the job, announced, a week after hiring me, that it was closing, offered me a transfer,  so I moved 450 miles, and one year later I’m downsized again.   Is any of this my fault?  No.  Does it matter whose fault it is?  No.

What matters is that I am left holding the bag, and I’m actually grateful that I have a bag to hold.  That means I’m alive.  Being alive means I have options.  Sure, some of them aren’t all that palatable, but I’ve choked down worse meals.  So have you.  I’ve also learned that you can make a mighty tasty meal from what’s in your kitchen already if you learn how to cook.

I have been on unemployment since February of 2011.  I just got a 48 week extension, and if I still don’t have work at the end of that period, I may qualify for something…or I may not.  I’m afraid.  That fear has driven me to downsize my life.  I’m moving almost 100 miles to an area in-state, that has a lower cost of living so I can lower my living expenses.  Once I make this move, my budget will have to squeeze out $700 less than it is squeezing now.  That money will provide me breathing room, and if I’m scrupulously frugal, I will be able to save that money.  That’s $8,400 over 12 months.  That’s a lot of money.

During the next few months, I’m using my fear as a motivator.  I am going to position myself so that I can make a living doing what I do best and that is through creating and teaching.  I have already investigated the probability of becoming an after-school educator in the arts for a local co-op gallery in my new town that provides after-school programs and summer art camps.  I will become a part of the co-op so that I can have space to work and sell my creations.  I’m a silversmith and I make jewelry.  I teach jewelry-making, and I also teach just about any other kind of imaginative art process.  So, at 50, I’m reinventing myself.

I’m also not greedy, and I know that an item is only worth what the next person will pay for it.  That’s essential for everyone to keep in mind.  Don’t buy into the current media fad for antiques and junktiques; for turning shabby to shabby chic and thinking you will be able to then sell it for top dollar.  Those people aren’t making their money from their products – they’re making their money from their cable and network TV shows.  I know a lot of people all over this country, and I know of only ONE couple who makes their living buying storage lockers.

If you’re crafty, and can learn to market yourself well online, there may be a niche for you, especially if you have an unusual product that is priced to sell and it is something you can produce quickly.  Of course, if what The Web Bot Project says has any validity to it, we may not have access to electronic anything from December 2012 to May 2013.   Ahem.  It also predicted a huge earthquake for Vancouver in 2008 that never happened. If the Mayans have anything to do with it, we’re all going to die on December 21, 2012.  Or maybe they just didn’t feel the need to extend their calendar any farther.  If the Hopi Tribe is right, we’re going to be hit by a blue star…at some point.  That’s the only REALITY to any of the 2012 mumbo jumbo out there.  Yup, we will be hit by something at some point, but scientists predict that it will be thousands of years before that happens and I think I’ll have shuffled off this mortal coil by then.

This isn’t about Armageddon or the end of the world.  It is, however, about the end of the world as we have known it for the past few decades. 

I would advise everyone to take time to take stock of what skills they have outside of their job, and to improve upon those skills as quickly as they can.  If you are a woodworker who can’t find the time to “indulge” your craft, find the time.  If you are an at-home carpenter, get your skill set up there so you can sell your skills if need be.  If you crochet, knit, sew, or do any handcraft, the time might be coming when you may need to fall back on those skills to put food on your table.

I’m not being alarmist.  It’s happening all over the place.  Don’t ever think your company can’t do without you because they can and will do without you if the executive committee sees their bonus pool shrinking.  You will be gone and your job will be farmed out to three other people who are already doing the work of two or three people.

Don’t function under the assumption that you will be downsized with some sort of package, either.  Unless you are downsized through attrition, or are at an executive level, the odds are very good you will get two to six weeks pay and an offer to keep your health insurance through COBRA.

Do you know how much COBRA will cost you?  If you have a family it could be more than your monthly mortgage.  I am not being alarmist or pessimistic.  I’m being real.  Corporate America demands loyalty from its employees but the return on that loyalty is…add it up…a big, fat, glaring ZERO.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.

I hear people talk all the time about how “good” their company has been to them, allowing them to take paid time because a family member was sick, or paying them for sick days after they used up all they had to tend to sick children, etc.  Do not ever believe that the company with which you are currently employed will sacrifice or has sacrificed anything for you.

Function under the realistic assumption that the corporate executives at your company will get what their avarice tells them is their due and you will pay the price.  They do not care about you.  That is the reality.

Find a way to earn money outside of what you currently do as a job.  Multi-level marketing is not the answer, so please don’t fall for any of those schemes.  Think about your passion.  What do you truly LOVE?  Find that passion and turn it into something that will put food on your table if you find yourself without a job.

Stop using credit for anything.  Buy your clothes at thrift stores.  Recycle, repurpose, reinvent.  Be real about what is going on.  Find your long-dormant survival skills and hone them. Use the coupons in the newspaper and match them to sales at grocery stores. Get rid of any elitism you may have about material goods because it will be your undoing.

If you own a gas-guzzler, sell it.  Trade it on something more economical.  Eat before you go to the grocery store and don’t go unless you have a list.  Don’t vary from that list.  Plan your menus and shop accordingly. Learn some DIY skills.  Learn to barter.

If you don’t start thinking about doing these things, and then DOING them, you may find yourself in a nosedive you can’t pull out of.

It’s all well and good to sing “Tomorrow” (there’s an earworm for you!) and talk yourself into believing that the sun really WILL come up tomorrow.  Usually the sun does come up, but sometimes tomorrow is a very long way off.  I believe America’s tomorrow will come, but it won’t be what we normally think of as tomorrow. Tomorrow, for us, is going to be quite a bit longer than 24 hours.

Nope, not being pessimistic.  Not being optimistic. Simply being real.

Narcissists ARE Evil.

Narcissists ARE evil.  Reasonable doubt doesn’t enter this picture.  While there are reasons that a narcissist acts the way he or she acts, those reasons do not excuse their CHOICE to act that way.

A narcissist will never do anything that does not benefit him or herself.

A narcissist makes conscious decisions; he or she makes the CHOICE to harm.

If a narcissist and his latest supply walk into a bar and the narcissist gets drunk, and then disorderly and is thrown out of the bar, whose fault is it?  If you answered “the victim’s fault” you answered correctly and this means you understand how a narcissist’s mind works.

I have posted here that I’m not certain whether a narcissist truly knows he or she treats others badly.  The reason I say that is because a narcissist, in choosing to treat another badly, makes the choice believing, in their twisted psyche, that their choice is right, good and moral.  That choice will always contain projection of their own accountability for a situation onto whomever (and sometimes whatever) they find to be their nearest victim.

While sane people KNOW a narcissist treats others badly, and does it on purpose, the narcissist has no knowledge at all.  All he has is a delusional belief system that tells him he is NOT treating others badly.

What a narcissist believes is of no relevance.  A narcissist’s mind is twisted, sick and dangerous.

What a narcissist believes is a delusion; it is a construct within which there can only be one “good” person.  You know who that person is.

A narcissist will always do only what is right for him or herself, and that action, regardless the harm done to any other individual(s), will be justified in the narcissistic mind as right.

A narcissist knows the difference between right and wrong only as it pertains to him or herself.  No one else matters.

None of the above is a justification for the pure EVIL that a narcissist perpetrates on his or her victims.

Narcissists do not and cannot love.

Narcissists do not care about you or anyone else.

Narcissists are very good at hiding all of these things – for short periods of time, usually the length of time it takes to suck in fresh supply.

Narcissists do not have relationships.  With anyone.  Period.

Narcissism is rampant in our society.  It is rampant because our culture not only encourages it, but supports it, through the venue of pop-psychology and the “gotta take care of Number One” mantra.

Narcissists do not want the best for you or anyone other than themselves.

Narcissists do not help anyone unless they can be certain it will be known by as many as possible that they have “helped.”   If you  need an example of this just look at corporate philanthropy.  That’s an entirely different post, though.

Narcissists are the embodiment of all we have been taught is morally wrong; EVIL; and they are excellent at cloaking their behavior in the guise of goodwill and self-sacrifice.

I just wanted to make that clear, in case anyone was wondering where I stand on this issue.

Narcissism in the Workplace: Moral Compass Malfunction?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be a paradox.  Maybe.  If we think about what it means to have a moral compass, or a moral agent, we can come up with at least two logical philosophies.  The first is Immanuel Kant‘s philosophy that states one must be rational to engage in morality.  The second is a philosophy put forth by the Utilitarian philosophers that states morality cannot be tied to a rational thought process; rather, that it is tied more to the avoidance of suffering.

I tend to align myself with the second philosophy for a number of reasons, the most prominent being that a Narcissist is programmed to avoid suffering at all costs.  A Narcissist’s actions will have a direct correlation to the amount of discomfort he might feel in any situation.

I’ve worked in corporate America most of my adult life.  No one warned me about narcissism in the workplace, because 30 years ago, no one knew to do such a thing.  Instead, people would tell me to stay away from so-and-so; never to get on the “wrong side” of someone else, and with one particular supervisor, to make certain that I place a copy of each of my completed projects on his boss’ desk at the same time I placed a copy on his desk.  The reasoning behind this was simple.  I was told if I wanted credit for my work, I could not just hand it over to my supervisor, because at the next staff meeting, all my work would be presented as his.

If someone in the work place tells you this about someone else, lend credence to it.  Assess the co-worker who is telling you this, watch how they interact with others and if your gut tells you they are on the level, listen to them.  I have experience with not heeding such advice and in one instance, during the early 80’s, was actually fired because I spoke up for myself in a meeting, stating the work being presented was mine and pulled out evidence to prove it.  I was fired that afternoon and no one said a word.

Narcissists in the work place are just as bad as they are outside the work place.  Have you ever had any of the following happen to you?

1.  Your work is presented, at a meeting to which you were not invited, and you found out later that your contribution to the effort was either not mentioned, or was stolen from you and presented as someone else’s work?

2.  You are provided direction for a task or process, you write down all instructions provided, and once completed, it’s determined by your supervisor’s boss that something is wrong.  You are called in to explain why you proceeded as you did, and you explain that you took direction from your supervisor, and oh-by-the-way, here are the detailed instructions, that you wrote down.  You are then told that you wrote the instructions wrong – your supervisor will read them, immediately see where he or she screwed up and rather than own accountability, will deflect blame to you, stating YOU misunderstood and your notes are wrong.

3.  It feels as though you are constantly being thrown under the bus by a co-worker, but you are never able to actually prove it.

4.  Several co-workers are also thrown under the bus and they have the same issue.  When you compare notes it all points to one person, but there is no real proof.

5.  You find, when comparing notes with co-workers, that the extremely vicious statement made by someone with regard to someone else was also made about you, and then you all realize that the same person has been setting each of you against the other.

6.  You are working in a group, and you make certain that everyone in the group is included in all communications, but you continually get emails or correspondence from one person in that group; the communication from this person seems to target you in some devaluing fashion, and the rest of the group has not been party to it.

7.  You are working in a group, and when you ask a particular individual who is hyper-critical of your efforts to please send his or her thoughts via email, they refuse.  No paper trail, no proof.

8.  You know you are doing your job well and correctly.  You are never late, you don’t take sick days, you work late when you know it’s necessary, because for some reason, the work isn’t getting done, and it’s not your piece that’s not getting done,  you are a team player, yet your direct supervisor, who arrives at work later than you do, who you know is very tight with one particular co-worker, suddenly requests a meeting and writes you up for being late, chastises you for not working smart or fast enough and shoots down your statement that your extra time has been used to complete tasks that were part of the group goal and weren’t being finished.  Then you are written up for not meeting the group goal in a “timely fashion.”

9.  You notice that a co-worker is getting preferential treatment, and getting it consistently.

10.  You’ve been “reported” for breaking “rules” and even though you can prove you did not break “rules” your supervisor tosses the proof aside and states that he or she has “evidence” that you’re at fault.

11.  One co-worker, or supervisory figure is praised for his or her work, you look around the meeting table and you see your other co-workers grimacing, because they know what you know:  that this person stole your work, lied about you, curried favor, threw you under the bus numerous times, and everyone knows that no one can truly prove it.

Those are some of my experiences.  I’m sure you’ve got others.  Narcissists in the work place function exactly as they do outside of the work place.  They curry favor with those they feel can be of benefit to them, they have no moral compass when it comes to the good of the group versus their own good.  It’s not a case of a moral compass malfunctioning.  It’s a case of having no moral compass at all.  They work very hard – at making you look bad so they can look good.  They gaslight in the same manner they would gaslight anyone else.

Many times a work place narcissist will target one person; they will target the person they have deemed the weakest.  That would be the individual who displays accountability, who works hard, doesn’t break the rules, and has an exceptional work ethic.  A work place narcissist can’t abide anyone working with them who might appear to be better at anything than they are, so they set about devaluing this individual to other co-workers and to management.

They are insidious about this process.  They don’t run to management with an issue about the person, rather; they simply sow seeds of doubt, seemingly at random.  They’ll do it at a company gathering; they’ll do it over lunch, or while chatting in the hallway.  They will cause seeds of doubt regarding the individual’s character to germinate.

They will drop a casual remark-in one instance that I witnessed, it was regarding the fact that a co-worker always wore black to work.  I heard the comment:  “I wonder why she always wears black.  I’ve never seen her in anything but black, even her mascara is really black.  Did you notice that?”

I was at the lunch table when this was said, in the presence of 9 other people, but presumably it was said to only one individual.  Heh.  Hardly.

A month later, I found that the “woman in black” who I worked with closely, had suddenly turned into a departmental pariah, rumors were flying about her personal life, and the narcissist who had started it all had even searched for her online and found that she was a member of a motorcycle club.

No one would ever say that it was the narcissist of the group who found the online information but I knew it.  No one else cared until she started her insidious devaluation of this co-worker.

Naturally, this must mean “the woman in black” is a bad person.  It must mean she does terrible, immoral things.  It must mean she cheats on her husband and is an unfit mother to her children.  It must also mean that she’s a poor reflection (like that word?) for the company, and it must also mean that she’s got personal issues.  Stands to reason, right?  She wears black, she’s part of a motorcycle club so it naturally follows that she’s a sleaze bag mom who is unfit to raise her children and the by-product of that is that she’s unfit to work for the company, even though she is one of the best workers they’ve got.

What it really meant is that the narcissist found this woman’s presence intolerable, went searching for something that she perceived as a weakness; something that could be manipulated and spun, and proceeded to infect 7 co-workers and our supervisor with her poison in an effort to get the person fired.  It worked.  Only two people didn’t buy into it.  One of those people was yours truly.  The other was the “woman in black.”

All it took was two months and a woman who had worked for this company for 11 years was fired; she was fired based on lies, a deliberate devaluing of her character based on speculation and the seed of doubt that this woman was doing the great job that everyone else thought she was doing. This was done by an individual who was transferred into the department at the beginning of those two months.

In two months, a woman who had 11 years with the company, in the same department, was fired, and since the state in which we worked was an “at will” state, the only reason she was given was “you’re not a good fit.”

The narcissist wasn’t finished though.  She’d managed to get rid of one mirror that wouldn’t reflect well for her, so she began watching for others.  I was next in line.  By this time, I knew the importance of documenting everything with regard to this woman; from the time she came in to work, to what she said in every meeting, to what I overheard her saying to others.  I refused to interact with her in any way that didn’t have a paper trail.  So how did she get me?  Easy.

I’m one who doesn’t bring my personal life to work.  No one knew much about me, other than that I was a single mom with a teenage son.  They didn’t know who I dated or if I dated.  They didn’t know if I was involved with anyone.  What they did know was my name and my son’s name.  They knew where he went to school – the usual stuff that co-workers share.  I never shared anything I didn’t feel couldn’t be printed on a bulletin board.

All it took was one comment from me, empathizing with another co-worker at lunch, who was going through the terrible teens with her child.  Just ONE comment, stating that I truly understood, and offering information about a program that was available for troubled teens.  My son wasn’t troubled – not like this woman’s was.  My son was a relatively normal and rebellious teenage boy who did the normal stuff teenage boys do.

Within a week, rumors got back to me that my son was in this program.  Then more rumors that my son was in the program because he’d been caught dealing drugs at school.  When I heard about the rumors, from someone in a totally different department, with whom I was friendly, my reaction was a completely flabbergasted:  “HUH???”

Then I got popped for a random drug test.  I came up clean, as I knew I would, but bells were clanging in my brain.  Two weeks later, I got a call from my son at 1:00 in the afternoon.  He’d been in a bad car accident,  and was part of a four-car pile up in the westbound tunnel of the area where we lived.  He was fine, car was totaled.  I raced out of the office.

That was a Thursday.  When I came in on Friday everyone wanted to know what happened.  I was cautious with details – none of it was my son’s fault – but I just don’t give out a lot of details at work.

The following Monday, I heard a rumor that my son had been arrested for DUI as a result of that accident.  Not true.  You can’t quash a rumor like that.  It bred on itself.  Over the next two months, my son’s accident went from “thank GOD he’s okay” to “her son caused a four-car pile up in the tunnel because he was stoned and he almost killed 3 other people.”

During the next month, I found out that some work I’d done on a project, that was housed in a location where everyone could access it, because they HAD to access it, was all cabbaged up. I found this out because my boss emailed me that he was getting corrupt data when he used the database involved.   I sent an email to everyone in the department stating that they were not to use the database on a particular server until I’d fixed it; that something had gone wrong causing relationships and table links to disappear.

I always kept a clean copy on my laptop, which I backed up daily.  I overwrote the corrupted database with the clean copy, sent an email less than ten  minutes after being notified, that it was okay to start using the database again.  Situation solved, right?

The next day, I came into work to find my laptop on and that someone had logged in as “admin.”  I questioned everyone.  The narcissist in the group turned around and said:  “Oh, I had to get hubby up here to help run some reports and he used your laptop.  He was a peach to do it, since I knew you’d be too busy today to get to them.”  Her husband was in our IT department.

My head instantly spun like Linda Blair’s.  I calmly thanked her, turned to my laptop to find an IM from a co-worker who sat behind me.  It said:  “check the database on the server – it’s all screwy again.”  I checked.  It was corrupt beyond corrupt.  I IM’d back:  “no problem – I’ll just overwrite it.”  I went to the folder where my clean copy was always kept and it was gone.  I checked my restore point – it had been changed.  I frantically checked the cds where I kept a daily copy (it was a small database, but crucial to operation of the department and company), and an entire 5 days worth of cds were missing.

I couldn’t restore the database with current information.  It was my JOB to be able to do that if it was deemed necessary.  I went to my boss to tell him.  He told me to shut the door and proceeded to tell me that he’d been advised that I was having difficulty concentrating on my work, and that there had been several mistakes found in the database, even when the copy was “clean.”  I asked him who told him this and he refused to tell me who.

I knew who had done it.  He then went on to say that he felt it was in the best interests of the company if my relationship with the company was severed, since it was apparent that my “personal” issues were causing too much pressure on me to be able to function with the accuracy necessary for my position.  He chastised me for it.  He stated that “others” had noticed my “work was slipping” and when I again asked who had noticed, he refused to tell me.

So I asked WHAT personal issues.  Our friendly departmental narcissist had done her job well.  My boss, who knew me to be reliable, productive, knowledgeable and who used me as his go-to person for anything requiring data, told me that my son’s “drug-related car accident” seems to be causing my focus to slip, and that this had been brought to his attention several times over the preceding three months.

He stated that since my service to the company “up to this point” had been exemplary, that he would give me 30 days so that I would have time to find a new job.  I replied to that with:  “If you are going to fire me, please fire me.  I won’t quit; not now, and not in 30 days.”  So he fired me.

Narcissist won.  She got me out of there.

She got one other person out, after she was finished with me.

Guess what?  Two months after she got her last “tarnished mirror” out, she was part of an enterprise-wide downsize.  SHE was given no notice, was told, mid-day, when a security guard came to her desk with her pink slip, stood over her while she packed her personal belongings and then escorted her to her car and watched as she drove off the lot.

It’s small comfort, because her actions with regard to me, happened in 2009, just after the economy began its downward spiral.  I found a job, moved out of state for it, and it evaporated before I could start.  I was living with family in that state, so at least I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to keep a roof over my head.  Three months later I found a job.  A week into it, I was told that office was closing and my options were an 8 week severance package or a transfer to the city where I now live.  I took the transfer.  A year later, I was downsized.

And here I am, 7 months later, unable to find work.  Would I have been caught in that initial enterprise-wide downsize that the departmental narcissist was caught in?  I don’t know.  The odds are pretty good, I’d have been transferred, or something would have been found for me, as that’s what was done for those who had an exemplary record and seniority within the department.  Had the narcissist not been transferred into my department, I might still be working there.

Might, maybe, what-if?  Who knows.

This is a cautionary tale.  I know of no way to protect oneself against a narcissist in the work place.  I’ve tried.  Documentation doesn’t seem to do any good.  If you are targeted by a workplace Narcissist know this:  They have NO moral compass.  They will steal from you, lie to and about you and if you appear in any way to outshine them, they will set about devaluing you in a most insidious fashion and you won’t realize the bus ran over you until you look down from your out-of-body perch on the ceiling to find the bus didn’t accidentally hit you.

I wish I had answers for you.  I don’t.  Corporate America breeds an environment that is conducive to narcissism.  It breeds an all-or-nothing environment that deliberately places co-workers in competition with one another.  Throw a true NPD into the mix and all bets are on the N coming out on top – at least for the time being.

The carnage will be horrific, and the N will be standing triumphantly over it, beaming beatifically at your former boss, while surreptitiously fingering their fake moral compass that always reads correctly, because that compass is missing the mechanisms that a normal compass would have.   That compass tells the Narcissist that true north points at him or her and since it has no magnet to move the hand, it will always point at him or her.  A Narcissist’s moral compass will always show him the way – and that way is toward his own glory.

The compass doesn’t malfunction.  It is an empty housing, just like the Narcissist.

 

 

Vote!!

I’ve been writing a comprehensive book on personality disorders with an emphasis on NPD.  I’m not a psychiatrist but I know someone who IS psychiatrist in real-life and who specializes in personality disorders.  He has agreed to review this book prior to publication for accuracy of information.  I’m also going to request that he write a forward for it.

This book  will define the term personality disorder, it will provide all the DSM-IV (cited) criteria for NPD, with real-world descriptions of each criteria.  Each criterion will probably be a chapter unto itself, since there is such a massive amount of accurate anecdotal material available.

I will also include chapters on Borderline Personality Disorder since that disorder has so many crossover traits with NPD.  Depending upon how long the NPD book is (I’d like to keep it at 300 pages!) I may have to write another on BPD.   These books are being written with the purpose of helping others recognize these disorders and understand what they can do to better their situations if involved in any way with someone who is one of these disorders.

Please remember that individuals who meet the criteria for NPD and BPD don’t “have” the disorder, they ARE the disorder.  Why?  It’s simple.  To have something implies that one can NOT have it.  For an NPD, the realization that they are a disorder will never come, so they don’t “have” the disorder, they ARE the disorder.  For a BPD, there’s a shred of hope, but in most cases, they, too, do not realize that anything is wrong with them, thus they don’t “have” the disorder, they ARE the disorder.

You will learn methods for recognizing those who are potentially NPD or BPD on the first date, but more importantly you will learn an accurate method for analyzing online dating profiles to determine whether the writer is NPD.  It’s a little more difficult to extrapolate BPD from a dating profile and not always accurate, so I won’t provide that.

The book will also contain a compassionate and common-sense guide to rebuilding emotional health during the aftermath of interacting with an NPD (remember, they don’t have relationships!) and it will provide cited research into the developmental phases of a child who grows up to be an NPD adult.  This will provide a glimpse into the why of an NPD and it will allow you to feel compassion for them, while understanding that pity is wasted and it will also allow you to learn your best method for detaching and distancing – for good.

Additionally, there will be anecdotal information based on my personal experiences, interviews with others who have had similar experiences and between each chapter there will be lined pages for you to make notes if you choose to print the book.  The book will be in PDF format and will be read-only, and you will not be able to do a “save-as” so you can make electronic notes.  Allowing that capability is dangerous for an author.

Please note, since this will be my material, garnered from many long  hours of research, and then the effort put forth to write a book that resonates with truth, REAL help and guidance, it will be copyrighted as my material.  If I provide this book and someone wants to use pieces of it in their own work, they will need permission to use it and any portions of it that are used must be cited (as I am doing with all my research.)  I want to help others, and in doing so, I also want to help myself.  If there is enough interest in this as an e-book, when I am finished writing it, I will post it here as a downloadable book at a price of $9.95  for 30 days prior to allowing my publisher to release it (at a much higher price!)

Vote now!

Another From Search Terms: Does a Narcissist Know They Treat People Badly?

Yes and no.  How’s that for a contradiction?

A narcissist believes they are good.  They have conditioned themselves to believe that they are ALL good and have no character flaws.  They believe anyone who questions their “goodness” is bad.  They believe, from conditioning, that those who are “bad” must be punished.

So, do they know they treat people badly?  I’d say, that deep down, in that place where they have their emotionally arrested selves hidden, they know.  This will never come to light. Not an inkling of it will be allowed out of the locked drawer where the Narcissist keeps everything he sees as a poor reflection of himself.

If a Narcissist apologizes to you for treating you badly, you’d better read the fine print, which isn’t immediately visible because it is contained between the lines.  Mine did it thus:  (bold and italics are mine)

“I apologize if I hurt your feelings, but you know this is how I am and if you take it personally, that’s your fault.  If I do it again, tell me and I’ll apologize, but know that it’s just how I am and that I will do it again.”  

See what he’s done?  First he declines to admit that he actually DID hurt my feelings.  He states “if.”  This is typical of an NPD.  They’re not going to admit to hurting anyone’s feelings, so they use a qualifier that absolves them of blame and places all blame on you.  What this man said to me in that first sentence is this:  “I’m not apologizing for anything.  The entire issue is immaterial.”

Next, he absolves himself of accountability for his actions by stating “you know this is how I am.”  Because I “knew” this was how he was, I was then simply supposed to accept it, smile, and shrug it off by telling myself:  “oh, that’s just how he is. He didn’t mean anything by it.”  I’m not supposed to feel anything but loving acceptance of his little quirks and because (since he’s already told me this in his apology) he’s accepted “how” he is, then something’s wrong with me that I don’t accept it.  I’m supposed to actually support and encourage his unacceptable behavior, because after all, HE accepts it and encourages it within himself because he sees nothing wrong with it.

After that he tells me it’s MY FAULT my feelings got hurt and it’s my fault because I found “how he is” unacceptable.”  THIS little bit of information will be stored away for future use against me.  A Narcissist won’t tolerate anyone finding anything about them unacceptable.

Let me tell you, this piece of it came out about a month later in a long-winded nasty diatribe where he tells me how horrible I am, how undesirable I am as a partner, and that he doesn’t have “romantic feelings” toward me because I’ve “evinced dissatisfaction” with him.  Poor boy.  Oh dear.  See – this is classic NPD.

What I didn’t know at the time is this:

1.  He’s NPD

2.  NPDs don’t HAVE romantic feelings.

3.  I wasn’t in a relationship.

4.  All the stuff I saw in him that I thought was so wonderful was simply him reflecting MYSELF back to me.  He stole my compassion, empathy and any trait he thought was good and could be used to make himself look good and he reflected it back to me.

5.  At the point where his hyper-sensitive, as-seen-on-TV, get-it-now-for-the-low-low-price-of-$19.99-but-wait-if-you-order-in-the-next-10-minutes-you’ll-get a-second-one-free Little Orphan Annie Imaginary Criticism Decoder Ring  scrambled my communications he pulled out every bit of information his LOAICDR had given him, and using the companion LOAICDR Translation Tool for Narcissists, the free gift that came with the rings if you ordered within the next ten minutes he decoded a message that said “My feelings are hurt” to mean “You are a bad person, you’re stupid, worthless, and will never amount to anything.”  You see,  the LOAICDR is extremely sensitive and the companion Translation Tool for Narcissists has only one translation for anything that’s perceived as criticism. That translation is compatible with all the emotional abuse heaped on the Narcissist prior to age 6.

6.  The Translation Tool for Narcissists does provide instructions for keeping this from happening again, which is to immediately spin the situation, deny accountability and project blame for any and all hurt on the victim.  It then tells the Narcissist to react with vicious devaluation of the victim before the victim has time to sort through all the Narcissist-speak.  It instructs the Narcissist to stomp the victim into submission and do it HARD and if that doesn’t work, to simply throw the victim in the trash and go get a new one.   But I digress.  Let’s get back to the deconstruction of my N’s “apology.”

Then he says:  “If I do it again” meaning that there’s doubt he did it in the first place.  He says to tell him “if” he does it again and he’ll apologize, and then qualifies that with the justification (completely rational to him) that it’s just “how” he is, and then he goes on to tell me he WILL do it again.

It’s classic Narcissist gaslighting.  It’s classic Narcissist-speak for: “You’re crazy, I’m not.  You’re bad, I’m good.  You’re worthless, I’m omnipotent.”

Anyone besides me see an issue with this “apology?”   I hope so.

A Narcissist will defend his or her right to treat you badly, and they will do it using a rationale that is only logical to them.  When a non NPD hears the narcissist explaining WHY he or she did what they did, it will ALWAYS come out as an action they could not control because you MADE them do it.  You won’t have time to process it because it will be followed up with more vitriol.  Remember this:  Every horrible thing a Narcissist does or says to you is a projection of what he KNOWS to be true about himself.  It has nothing to do with you, it is not true about you, and the Narcissist has to convince you that it IS true about you, particularly if you are their only source of supply at the time.  They are desperate to stomp you into a submissive little mirror. 

A Narcissist does not own his or her actions.  If they did, there would be no narcissists.

If you are being treated badly by a Narcissist, the odds are very good that you’re to blame.  Didn’t you know that?  (read sarcasm, please).

If you are being treated badly by a Narcissist (not IF – WHEN) it is because you did not reflect appropriately to them.

When you are being devalued by a Narcissist it is NOT your fault.  It is simply because the Narcissist does not view you as anything other than an object with an expiration date.

If you stay with a Narcissist, beyond the point where you realize what’s going on, you will continue to be treated badly, and then it really WILL be your fault, because you made a choice to stay. 

If you stay with a Narcissist thinking you can fix them, you are DELUDED. Get help NOW.

If you stay with a Narcissist because after you had a deep, heart-felt conversation with them, and things got better, you’d better be prepared for an emotional nuclear warhead to plow through you.

Narcissists don’t HAVE “deep, heart-felt conversations.”  They let YOU talk, and they make assenting noises if they’re at the point where they realize they’re about to lose their current supply and they don’t have any other supply lined up.

So – clear as mud?  A Narcissist is a walking contradiction.

 

 

Bold Starbucks Barista Sings a Song…and Gets Fired.

Yep, it was ill-advised on his part, but it seems to me that this is another case of corporate greed at work.  How many of you have stood in line at Starbucks behind someone – anyone – who can’t seem to make up their mind what they want, then decide, then get what they’ve asked for, and come back, butted in front of you, interrupted YOUR order to tell the Barista that it’s wrong and they want something else?

I live in a rather upscale neighborhood that is surrounded by expensive prep schools.  Our neighborhood dreads the start of the school year.  The Stepford moms (and they ARE Stepford moms) drive their precious little ones to school each morning in a gas-guzzling SUV, or a beamer, mercedes, or sometimes, the moms drive the younger kids and allow their teen to drive separately.  They all pull up in front of Starbucks, double park, spill out of their respective vehicles and practically trample other customers to get in the store.

On one occasion, one of these moms came up to me as I was about to order and asked if she could cut in front of me (with the SIX school-aged children she had in tow) because if she didn’t, the kids would be late to school.  I asked her if all the kids were going to order, too and she replied in the affirmative.  I replied:  “No.  If you do that, I will be late to work.”  Her response?  “It’s more important that these kids get to school on time.  They’ll get detention if they’re late.”  My response:  “Then take them to school.  Now.”

I’ve waited in line behind all the people this (former) Starbucks Barista sings about and he’s dead on.  I’m certain he was fired for the following reasons:

1.  Starbucks was afraid of the backlash because ignorant people would hear his song and immediately attach all kinds of social denigration to it.  There is social denigration, but it’s TRUTH.  He’s not being racist.  He’s not being sexist.  He’s not engaging in reverse snobbism.  He’s telling it LIKE IT IS.

2.  He didn’t toe the company line that says a Barista MUST simply serve, and do it with a superglued smile and accept whatever abuse these people wish to perpetrate upon them.

3.  He dared to vent his frustration with a policy that does NOT cater to customer service, rather; it caters to corporate greed.

Hey Starbucks!  I’ve stopped buying coffee at your stores.  I won’t go in any longer specifically because of your policy that says I have to wait a VERY long time in line behind stupid selfish people who have no manners, who are impolite, who could give a crap about holding up the works so they can get their Venti frappuccino in mocha with a dash of cinnamon, three squirts of vanilla, half a squirt of peppermint mocha and then heated to precisely 150 degrees so it has the warmth of a cappucino.  And don’t forget to use skim milk, and whatever the hell you do, do NOT add the extra chocolate shavings on top because my GOD, think of the extra calories!

And then, once that’s ordered, Mom turns to her brood and instead of ordering FOR them, she simply says “what do you want?” to each child in succession, so all the customers behind this Stepford family have to wait while each spawn reads the menu, asks questions, runs their grubby fingers across the pastry display glass, picks up stuff to look at it, orders, then changes the order, gets the order, tastes it, spits it out and says they want something different.  So then they order something different.  30 minutes later, if you’re still in the store, it’s your turn – with a Barista who is teetering on the abyss and that superglued smile belies the killing power behind his or her eyes.

If you’re like me, you haven’t waited 30 min unless you’re with a friend who doesn’t mind waiting.  I waited 30 min once, with a friend, who  started to order something complex and I simply punched him in the arm and said:  “We’ll have two large coffees, whatever is your darkest blend, room for cream.  Thank you.”  And then I dragged him away, as he was protesting that he wanted a mocha latte with a half-teaspoon of cinnamon stirred in first.

WTF is Starbucks doing, forcing their baristas to put up with this crap?   If people want this kind of specialized stuff, then there should be a separate “Elite Special Orders Because You Don’t Give A Shit About The Customers Behind You” bar where these people can make their own bloody fancy, not-on-the-menu drink.

Starbucks provides horrible customer service – not through their Baristas, but through their corporate policies.

Hey Starbucks?   Guess What?  I go to Royal Farms for my coffee now and it’s just as good and if there is someone in front of me who can’t make up their freaking mind or is counting out pennies, or wants their order in a special way, Royal Farms will ask that person to WAIT until the customers who are READY TO ORDER, READY TO PAY AND NEED TO GET OUT FAST have been served.  And they don’t give a flying red one if the unready customer feels entitled to make everyone else wait and leaves.  So what?  They’ll get MORE business because of it.  Maybe that one disgruntled customer will tell 20 people who won’t come in.  But the 6 happy customers who got in and out quickly will tell 20 people who WILL come in.  Let’s do the math on that.  It’s pretty simple.  It totals 100 brand new customers for Royal Farms.

Starbucks is getting the opposite. They think their BRAND will see them through?  Hardly.  Their coffee beans are oily.  Coffee beans aren’t supposed to be oily.  Fresh coffeebeans are dry.  They only get that oily sheen when they’ve been sitting around for 6 months.

Starbucks used to be a great place.  That was about 15 years ago.  Now?  They suck dirty canal water.

This dude got fired.  Yep – it was ill-advised of him to post this song on the web, but you know what – I applaud him for doing it because he knew his job would be on the line.  I hope this song goes viral and he makes money from it somehow.  Starbucks?  You need to get with REAL customer service.  Stop abusing your baristas and you won’t wind up with songs like this about you all over the internet.

and here’s his post-firing song:

I know, because a family member of mine has worked at Starbucks in the past, that the crew you work with can be very tight.  I also know that the crew hates most of the customers.  I’ve heard many horror stories.  The pay is not worth the abuse you take as a Barista.  They start you at either minimum wage or $8 an hour.   How many of you, even if you were desperate, would accept so little pay to be subjected to the abuse doled out by entitled customers who would complain to  Starbucks corporate to get you fired for giving them the “wrong” drink and not smiling as they tell you how stupid you are?

I know people to whom this has happened.

Next time you walk into Starbucks to get your fancy drink, think about this.  Think about what it is that your purchase is supporting.

If you liked this post, then click the “like” button so it appears on your FB page.  If you REALLY like it, grab the video and post it to your own blog.  Make this thing go viral because the only way a corporate entity like Starbucks will be forced to toe the CUSTOMER line is by getting bad press from customers.  Starbucks doesn’t care about you.  They only care about the money.  Don’t EVER forget that.  Starbucks, like most huge corporate entities could give a crap about their employees, OR their customers.  If you work there and you don’t smile and obey each stupid, entitled customer request TO THE LETTER, the odds are good you will be fired.

If you complain publicly, like this guy did, (and in a rather creative fashion!) you don’t need to wait to be fired – just fire yourself.

Search Term: Narcissists Aren’t Bad

I saw the search term: “narcissists aren’t bad” in my search engine stats just now.  For anyone who wants to know whether a Narcissist is bad, I’ve written enough here about it to let you know.  🙂

That said:  Narcissists aren’t bad people, they are people who do bad things.  There is a difference.   The school of thought to which I subscribe, because I believe it most accurately presents NPD as we encounter it most, is the one that says a narcissist is an individual whose emotional growth ended between age 6 and 7.

This age has commonly been known as the “age of reason.” It is the age, in most cultures, where a human child is believed to be emotionally developed to the point where he or she is capable of understanding the difference between right and wrong, and is capable of acting upon those differences, regardless their choice of action.

By the time an NPD individual reaches this age, he or she has assimilated emotional (and sometimes physical) abuse into themselves.  They have integrated it into their own personality and for purposes of personal survival, have created clear lines of demarcation for good and bad within themselves.  Generally, they will have been born to, and raised by, at least one NPD parent, if not two.  If they have one NPD parent, the odds are very good the other parent is steeped in the emotional trauma wrought by a narcissist and is not capable of protecting the child because the non-NPD parent is too busy attempting to protect themselves.

The child witnesses this emotional war and defines for him or herself, based upon what they observe and are told, the best method to protect themselves from further hurt.  This protection comes in the form of creating an alter-ego that, within the confines of their own minds, becomes themselves.  This alter-ego is all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing, and many times simply omnipotent.  The child creates an alter-ego that allows them to be God, thus giving them the illusion of control, at least within themselves.

This alter-ego is not to be confused with multiple personalities or schizophrenia.  It is simply a coping mechanism whereby the child, who, at this point has been filled with the terror and humiliation of unrelenting emotional abuse, manages to construct, in his or her childish mind, what they believe they should be based upon what they’ve been told they really are.

Emotional abuse is contradictory.  The child of an NPD may be told one day that they are the sun, stars and moon and that their N parent believes them to be special in a sense that no other child is special.  The child internalizes this.  It goes in the “good” drawer.  The next day, the N parent contradicts what was said the day before and tells the child he or she is stupid, clumsy, and compares the child to the the sibling of favor for that day.  You know the routine:  “Why can’t you be like so-and s0?  So-and-so isn’t stupid.  So-and-so got an A in arithmetic.  So why didn’t you get an A?”

The child internalizes this.  This goes in the “bad” drawer.  The child keeps the “bad” drawer locked as often as possible and only opens it far enough to allow devaluation to slide in and then the drawer is slammed shut and locked.

As the child grows physically, he or she remains at around age 6, emotionally.  An NPD has never learned to integrate the “good” and “bad” into a whole.  This is a crossover trait to Borderline Personality Disorder.  NPD and BPD have many crossover traits, and I’ve found that when the behavior issues are seen in a male, they are termed NPD and when they are seen in a female, they are termed BPD.  This is not always the case, though.  It’s simply what I’ve seen.

Now, think about a six-year-old child.  What is their primary focus?  Their primary focus is themselves.  A normal six-year-old child, raised by emotionally healthy parents will experience emotional growth that corresponds to their age.  A six-year-old child who has a narcissistic parent, and another parent who is too busy attempting to survive the abuse perpetrated upon them by the narcissist, will retain, and further, hold dear, their primary focus, which is on themselves.

The child has constructed an alter-ego who they have come to believe is their “real” self, because at age 6, they subconsciously know that they can’t be as bad as mommy or daddy has said they are.  It is at this point that all the good that might be in that child is sublimated to the alter-ego.  The child grows up believing they ARE their alter-ego.  They also know, but refuse to accept, that the alter-ego is nothing but a construct pulled from what they have perceived to be “good” along the way.  They add to that drawer full of “good” – they add the ability to mimic empathy and compassion, but because they have sublimated their TRUE ability for empathy and compassion, and because the parents have not nurtured this ability, all they have is what amounts to a photograph of it.

So they keep taking photographs.  Enter the mirror.  By the time the child has grown to adulthood, he or she has become very adept at watching others and adding photographs of what they perceive as acceptable behavior to their “good” drawer.  The problem with this is that they stopped developing, emotionally, between ages 6 and 7, so their criteria for good is that which they originally created as a child, and is unreasonable, unhealthy and a total illusion.

These children, who were unloved and abused and who learned to cope through construct, have grown into predatory adults who seek mirrors in the form of other human beings.  They seek love, because it is a driving need for them.  They will never admit it is a need as deep as hunger, but it is what they seek.  Having no foundation for love; no good role model for it, they believe love is defined by all those photographs they have taken of behavior that fits the construct created when they were 6 or 7 years old.

These adults can’t love because whatever love they gave prior to age 6, was repudiated.  Think about a child between the ages of birth to 6.  I can use my own son as an example.  I have never felt more loved or needed in my life, than during those years when my son was between birth and age 6.  At age 6 he began to truly think for himself, to spread his fledgling wings and for those who watched, including me, his behavior was a giddy balance between self-serving action and true remorse when he realized his actions had hurt someone who loved him.

At age 6, my son was learning to assert himself as an individual; he drew from his prior experience with me and his father, and grew in compassion, empathy, and love.  He learned that while he might want always to be the center of attention and so special as singularly “better” than anyone else, that he WAS NOT singularly special, beyond the fact that I thought of him as special only because he was my son,  nor was he always going to be the center of attention.  He learned this was a good thing.

Children of NPD parents do not learn this.  Their journey into adolescence and adulthood is dramatic, traumatic and filled with contradictory information.  By the time they reach adulthood, they have lost the key to their “bad” drawer and their “good” drawer has spawned several more “good” drawers, each filled with a jumbled detritus of what they have deemed, with their six-year-old emotional capacity to be acceptable behavior and character traits.

This is why an NPD is, at first, extremely charming, seemingly compassionate, empathetic and sensitive to your every need.  They are pulling from their “good” drawer those characteristics they have deemed useful to their effort to gain attention.  As they grew, they became more selective.  If they were in a group gathering, they would watch to see which members of their chosen sexual orientation seemed to be having the best time, and then they would watch to see what was causing these people to have such a great time.  They would photograph these behaviors and file them away.

Remember, a photograph is a shutter click in time.  It is not extended reality.  It is merely something that is for a short time.  At this point, an NPD has nothing within themselves to draw upon for normal interaction, because they built their bomb shelter long ago.  Nothing was allowed in that didn’t pass their stringent criteria, because anything that came in had to be something they could recognize as a reflection of what they viewed as “good” in themselves.

Over time, this collection of “good” gets confused.  It is never filed in any order, and it’s never given another thought by the NPD other than as a tool with which they can bring people into their lives.  It’s not a tool that is well-maintained.  It is a tool that is disposable. When it wears out and doesn’t work anymore, the NPD goes in search of more supply.  The “good” drawer is never quite empty because the NPD, like an addict, will see his fix getting low and will become frantic to replenish.

Straight male NPDs will go in search of straight females who exemplify all the qualities they have in their “good” drawer.  Remember, the NPD doesn’t actually have these qualities in himself, he simply has pictures of those qualities, and they are qualities he actually believes are his, not something stolen from various mirrors/prey along his journey to find the perfect mirror.

The qualities the NPD stalks are those qualities that he can only mimic, because in order to sustain the qualities, they have to be an integrated part of the personality.  The NPD stopped integrating anything into his personality at around age 6.

The most dangerous part of all of this is that the prey of an NPD doesn’t know they are prey until they have fallen victim to the NPDs abuse when they stop mirroring what the N wants, and believes he is entitled, to see.

The N believes that all the qualities he sees in his prey are HIS OWN qualities.  Because he sees them as his own qualities, he cannot sustain any form of relationship, as relationships are all about give and take.  They are about compromise and reciprocation.  An NPD does not compromise and he does not reciprocate.  He pretends to those things, for a very short time, because those are qualities he knows nothing about other than having seen them, briefly, in someone he held in esteem for a short period (because that person mirrored his beliefs about himself so well).  As soon as anyone evinces dissatisfaction with the Ns behavior, they are instantly and ruthlessly devalued and discarded.

That’s not the end, though.  The N has programmed himself to destroy anyone or anything that might reflect poorly upon him.  After the first session of D&D, the victim will probably believe she truly DID do something to hurt this wonderful person and will set about attempting to right something that she never did wrong in the first place.  The N will complacently sit back and watch, ever-vigilant for a slip-up.  He will direct the victim’s actions, controlling everything and at the first inkling that the victim might step out of line, the N stomps.  HARD.  The devaluation gets worse, it becomes vicious.  Sometimes it becomes deadly.

Herein lies the truth:  The NPD is not stomping on the victim.  He is stomping on a MIRROR that is reflecting what he  knows and understands to be his true character, and he is destroying it so that he does not have to look at it.  To look at it; to confront it, would mean deconstructing his safe-house; it would mean tearing down all the carefully constructed walls that took decades to build and an NPD does not have it within themselves to do that.  It is not possible.  Some say it is.  My observations show otherwise, but I’m not a psychiatrist.

Narcissists didn’t start out bad.  I don’t believe they are, at a soul level, bad.  I do believe that the young age at which they built their defenses dooms them to behaving badly for their lifetime.

The Pop-Psychology Perversion

How many times have you heard someone say:  “You just need to accept it” or “You just need to accept yourself.”

Yes, we do need to accept certain things, and we do need to accept ourselves, as we are, at any given moment.  This does not, however, imply that through acceptance we then give ourselves permission to remain in stasis, smile and shrug when we perpetuate bad behavior while hiding behind pop-psychology’s perversion of the concept of acceptance.

While it is key to accept ourselves as we are, this doesn’t mean that we aren’t bound by a power greater than ourselves, to change those things within ourselves that are less than desirable; things that, when they appear, have the ability to hurt others.

Too many times I’ve heard other people say “well, that’s just the way I am.  If you want to be with me, you just need to accept it.”  There are two things in that statement that send me heading for the hills.  First, the speaker is blithely stating that he or she has accepted their character flaws and intends to do nothing about them.  Second, the speaker is telling me that I, too, need to accept those flaws, and ignore them, regardless their detriment to me, if I want to be a part of his or her life.

Does anyone besides me see anything wrong with this?

It’s a perversion of the Serenity Prayer.  This prayer, when we speak it, is a request for help  to accept that which we cannot change, to change that which we can, and the blessing of wisdom to know the difference between the two.

I’m a veteran of 12 step programs.  I started long ago when it was rather harshly stated to me that I had all the character traits of an Adult Child of Alcoholics.  I had no clue what this meant.  I was given a clue and thank GOD I had enough glimmer of sense left in me to feel horror that I was perceived this way.

I went to AA to learn who my parents and various members of my family were.  I went to Al-Anon to learn to cope.  I went to ACoA to learn who I was.  I went to all three to grow and change.  I was horrified that someone I respected and loved saw in me all 15 of the characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics.  I’m not horrified now.

It stands to reason, given that I was raised by an alcoholic and a co-alcoholic, and that alcoholism was the syndrome du jour for my step-mother’s family.  My mother died when I was 2, and my father remarried shortly after, needing a mother for his 4 children.  I was the youngest.  I grew up surrounded by alcoholics and their enablers.  Then, when I was in my early thirties, my aunt, who had 9 years sober in AA, and who I respected and loved, brought me up short.  I was 32 when I went to my first 12 step meeting.  I’m 50 and haven’t stopped.

I learned through these programs that it was essential to acknowledge and accept, but that it was also essential to come to know myself well enough, to face the pain instead of running from it, and through that knowledge, to change those things about myself that I KNEW were awful, and that I thought I hid oh-so-well. 

It’s a long and painful process, and it’s a process that never ends, because through it we experience growth and through growth, we are always faced with choices.  It’s very easy to make the wrong choice simply because it’s the easiest choice to make.  I did that many times, until I learned that choice is not all about ME.  It’s about anyone who might be affected by my choice and in making choices I must consider all those who will be impacted and what that impact will be.  Many times, a choice I wanted to make would hurt others, and in learning to consider others ahead of myself, I learned to make the hard choices; the choices that might make life more difficult for me in the short-term, but which would protect others from certain damage.

Pop-psychology, in the form of many therapists and best-selling, self-proclaimed “gurus” tell us that we must always “look out for number One.”  Yes, we must.  I agree.  I disagree with their definition of “Number One.”  “Number One” is not ME.

Do you know what “Number One” is?  It is Love.  Pure and simple.  Pure and complex.  Pure and painful.  Pure and uplifting.  Pure and rewarding.  Pure, patient, and giving.

If you believe what pop-psychology tells you, then you are likely believing that “Number One” is you.  That’s the biggest lie of the last 2,000 years.  Some say Christianity and religion is the biggest lie.  It’s not – it is only a lie when it is perverted by humankind.

With the exception of one, Satanism, all other faiths I have encountered have, at their foundation, the premise that humankind must love one another.  We must give selflessly and without expectation of gifts in return.  We must also use the wisdom of our souls to understand the difference between giving selflessly from an abundance of love and blind faith to the control of something man-made.

We are told we need to have faith in ourselves above all else, that we must take care of ourselves before we can possibly take care of another.  Lies use a seed of truth for their foundation.  Lies take that seed and carefully craft it into something believable, yet false.  That is the purpose of a lie.  Lies are told with the intention of gaining control, of deliberately deceiving one or many in an attempt to make the liar more than he or she truly is.  Lies are told, perpetrated, fed and then, when they are big and solid enough, used as a foundation to trick humanity into believing what another power-hungry and greedy human being wants us to believe.

We all know the truth.  We were BORN with the truth.  It is in our souls.  Western civilization has been brainwashed to believe that we are not capable of seeing truth for ourselves; we are taught that we must look to other human beings who have somehow been imbued with “authority” and “wisdom” to guide us toward the truth.  We allow ourselves to be guided like sheep, even when the terrain feels unfamiliar and rocky; when it feels dangerous and just plain WRONG, we follow, because we have been taught to follow.

We are taught to sublimate our intuition; our higher knowledge; that still, small voice that will speak to us when we drop the defenses we’ve been taught to raise against it.  What is that still small voice?  Some call it God, others call it The Holy Spirit.  Many call it their Higher Power.  Some call it Allah.  Some call it Buddha.  Some have many names for it.  The name doesn’t matter.  A rose, by any other name, is still a rose.

I respect all religions whose foundation is one of uplifting humankind, of uplifting the spirit, of teaching and spreading love.  I do not respect, and in fact I abjure and abominate those religions that speak to uplifting the EGO, to personal preservation regardless the damage done to others.

I view pop-psychology as one of those religions.

I believe we are here, as human beings, to do as much good for our fellow humans as we possibly can do.  I believe it is the REASON we are here.  I believe our souls have been commanded to do this and  I also believe that we have been given the frailty of human form to test our ability to perceive and tread the high road.

My faith lies in eastern philosophy, because it is there that I find the foundations for Western Christian faith.  I do  not disrespect or denigrate Christians  who truly walk their talk, because the teachings of Jesus Christ, for those who have read them and have not perverted them to their own ends, are souls who have accepted their human frailty, who have set about changing that which they can change, without a need for manipulation and control, and who give of themselves  to others selflessly and with a never-ending abundance of love.

Read, if you will, 1 Corinthians 13, from the Christian New Testament:

<< 1 Corinthians 13 >>
American Standard Version

1If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
2And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor , and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

4Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil;

6rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth;

7beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away.

9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;

10but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things.

12For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.

13But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Love never fails.  Never.  Humans fail.  When we do what we do and it is done with LOVE, we will not fail.  The burden is upon us to recognize and understand ALL our actions and to use the wisdom present in ALL our souls to determine whether our choices, before we put them to action, are choices made from within pure love, as defined above.  Love of self is not love.  It is ego.  We love ourselves when we love others.  We help ourselves when we help others.  Pop-psychology would have us believe it is the opposite:  that we cannot love others until we love ourselves and that we cannot help others until we help ourselves.  Pop-psychology fails miserably as a guide for life in that it makes no mention of the fact that we can NOT love ourselves until or unless we love OTHERS first.

Be very careful when you use the word Love.  It is a powerful word and it is not one to be bandied about lightly.  It is a word, in all languages, that is fraught with bogs, mires and quicksand.  Love is a concept, and while a concept can be defined, the definition is generally defined by humans with a self-serving end in mind.

The next time you reach for a self-help book, or you go in search of help online, stop, walk out of the bookstore, walk away from your keyboard, and sit in a calm, quiet place for an hour.

It is best if you can be some place where the sounds of human invention do not intrude.  No music, no cars, no fans or electric or electronic devices.  Find a creek or a stream in the woods and sit on the bank.  Listen to nothing but the ambient sounds around you.  Let no thought enter your head.  Breathe deeply, drop false defenses in the sure knowledge that you are safer without them,  and let the still small voice grow to a roar.

When it does, you will hear what it is you need to hear, and it will be truth.

That truth will have nothing to do with the pop-psychology dogma that commands us to to selfishly guard our love, keeping it to ourselves; hoarding it so that we can become “better” people.  It has nothing to do with the concept of “ME” or “I.”  It has everything to do with “We.”

Learning the Truth

Allison, whose blog is Pieces of the Heart, wrote the following as a comment to my post : Narcissists Fold Spindle and Mutilate.  I thought it was worthy of its own post because it is full of the wisdom of experience.

Leaving an abusive and/or narcissistic relationship is difficult and once gone, an individual can many times be presented with an issue that is almost just as difficult to deal with:  that of “outcast mentality.”  Leaving the abusive relationship doesn’t mean the abuse magically vanishes.  It simply diminishes.  It is up to us to make it stop.

I don’t want to write too much here, other than to let you read Allison’s reply to my post.  This is a woman who has chosen her battles and has won or is winning the war.

“Not being accepted after leaving these types of relationships causes greater “outcast” mentality. When I finally pulled up my bootstraps and decided for a better life, it took me a while to really understand that I was not all the things that had been said to me in those non-relationships and by those who judged my decisions. The ONE thing that kept me centered through obstacles and continued abuse, even after I separated myself from it, was seeking a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, my higher power. I learned that I was truly loved, NOT from what someone told me, but from what I understood from a thirst to know. I researched and studied the Bible on my own, so I would know the truth personally.”

This comment could only have been written by someone who has sought the truth of her situations and came to personally know that truth.  Learn the truth so you will know it, personally.