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!

 

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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.

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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!

I Drove 330 Miles…and I’m So Glad I Did!

Like many of us, I see a psychiatrist.  I’ve seen the same doctor for 16 years, and when I first started with him, I really DID need him.  I was a mess!  With lots of support, encouragement, and good advice, I found myself healing from some serious childhood stuff.  I think my Doc is my medication now.  I was without him for almost two years after being transferred out of the area by corporate America.

I tried to find another doctor.  Folks, you can’t replace someone who has been there for you; who has been your ROCK for 16 years.  You just can’t.  It’s almost like a marriage, only with the professional boundaries in place.  So I decided, after trying yet ANOTHER shrink, that I was going to chuck it all where I am and go back to what I knew and trusted.

I drove 165 miles one way to get there today.  While sitting in his office, Doc _____ looks at my file and then looks at me and says:  “has it really been that long????  I could have sworn I’d seen you just a couple of months ago!”  I wasn’t sure what to make of that, so I asked him.  I said:  “hmmm – is that a good thing?”  Apparently, it was, because his reply was:  “Yes!  It means our rapport is so excellent that we can pick up where we left off, almost two years ago.”

My session with him was excellent and so worth the time, drive, traffic, and money.  I told him about the N, and described the situation to him.  I asked what he thought about it.  His reply:  “What do YOU think is wrong with this man?”   I replied that through research, I’d come to the conclusion the man was NPD.  Doc concurred.  He’d come to that conclusion simply from hearing me recite email conversations – and I surprised myself that I’d memorized them.  I was concerned about that because I thought maybe I was obsessing.  Doc told me no, I wasn’t obsessing, rather; I was doing what I do best:  analyzing and processing.

We discussed my primary relationship history.  Doc is a funny man.  He said:  “Okay, so far, with regard to primary relationships in your life, you’ve lived with a psycho domestic abuser, you married a dry drunk, you divorced the dry drunk and involved yourself in a long-distance relationship with a man who was very safe because neither of you had to invest anything in the relationship, then you married a man with Bipolar Disorder, you divorced him and it nearly killed you, then you moved in with a passive-aggressive Momma’s boy, and when that didn’t work you stayed away from men for awhile and started healing.  Now you tell me you found an NPD.  Are you done with men now?”

Yes, I’m done with men.  My judgment is obviously not at a level where I can trust it.  Unless the universe plants just the right man in my path, and gives me a sign that he IS the right man (and it would have to be something planetary, like Jupiter, aligning with Mars or something along those lines) I am done with men.

I don’t need a man.  I’d like one, but I’m fine without one.  I’m not emotionally needy now, although at one point in my life, as a young adult, I was extremely needy.

When I first started seeing the Doc he diagnosed me with borderline traits.  He told me this today.  I didn’t realize that.  He said he didn’t feel I warranted a formal diagnosis of BPD, because I was a high-functioning individual with a shitty childhood history to overcome.  He told me the that my official diagnosis was PTSD. I’d never thought to ask.

Without this man, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  He told me why his formal diagnosis was PTSD with borderline traits and looking back over my life (I’ll be 50 in a few days), I can see how right he was.   I still experience issues with PTSD, the most common issue being what Doc refers to as “ghosting.”

If I have a choice, I never sit with my back to a door.  There were things that would happen to me as a kid and with my first live-in if my back was turned.  To this day, I will sometimes feel as though someone is behind me and I’ll whip around, in fight or flight mode and no one will be there.  People have seen this “startle” response in me – I whip around and go into a slight crouch, my muscles tensed and I’m told I have a panic-stricken look on my face.  That’s “ghosting.”  I don’t think it’s really a medical term, but it clearly describes what I’m feeling.  I’m feeling the ghosts of my past; I’m feeling them so strongly that adrenaline kicks in and my brain sends me immediately into both an offensive and defensive mode.  My posture becomes defensive and my mind pulls forward into the offensive, bringing all the rage I had and still have toward the people who hurt me.  The rage is there, but I’ve learned to control it, as opposed to allowing it to control me.  Life wasn’t always like that.

Doc helped me work through all the garbage that caused that response; he helped me work through to my SELF, to bring the good and bad together and merge them into the person I really am.  He was there through two divorces, three downsizes, an immeasurable amount of heartbreaks; he got me through the teenage years with my son, and all the way through it, he was there to let me know I was okay and that I would be okay.

So, given all that, why on earth wouldn’t I drive 330 miles round trip to spend time with such a supportive and encouraging individual?  Why did I think I could ever replace him?  I’ll probably still be seeing him when I’m 85 and he’s 90, provided, as he said:  “I’m still alive, all the grey cells are working and I don’t need my Depends changed too often.”

I always marveled at how stable his marriage was (and is).  He got married at 21, has four grown children that he adores, and judging from the photos in his office, a wife he adores and loves as much as the day he married her.  Well, I know that, because he’s told me.  He would be lost without his wife.

That’s what I always thought I would have.  I told him that today.  I’ve been very conflicted about this turning 50 thing and mentioned that it’s really bothering me because I’m not where I thought would be at this point in my life.  He replied:  “Maybe you’re not seeing the forest.  Do you think it’s possible you’re exactly where you need to be?”

Yup.  Right again.  I thought about that on the drive home.  I AM exactly where I should be and where I need to be – for me.  I can’t compare my life to anyone else’s life.  I can’t judge myself based on someone else’s accomplishments or what society has decreed to us is defined as “success.”  I AM successful.  I’m here, writing this, still alive, and an emotionally healthy individual who has, at this point, minimal emotional baggage.

I’ve accomplished one hell of a lot in my life, but most would see me as largely unsuccessful because I don’t have the material acquisitions that our society values so greatly.  I don’t own a home, I’ve been laid off 3 times in three years, I have no retirement or savings because I ran though it all through various terms of unemployment, and right now I’m past due on my car payment because my (former) boss turned out to be a total asshole and at this writing, I have $25 to my name.

Know what, though?  It’s okay. I got an email today that is going to change that financial picture.  My entire life I’ve always had what I needed, when I needed it.  I may not have always had what I wanted, but I ALWAYS had what I needed.  That should really be enough for anyone.

I find, as I age, that the things I want are intangible.  They are things only I can provide myself.  Peace, happiness and contentment.  Value of myself FOR myself.  Self esteem without entitlement.  The knowledge that when I look back, 40 years from now (because I WILL live to be 90) I will know that for most of my adult life, I’ve worked to do the right thing, even when it didn’t feel good to do it.  I’ll know that I succeeded in becoming what I truly want to be:  A human being who works to help and heal others, because through that, I help and heal myself.   It’s an ongoing process…