A friend recently asked me if we’re not all narcissists –aren’t we all rather selfish and egocentric?
Having had far too many encounters with narcissists (another term for a Power-Overer), it is very important to me to share with however-many-will-listen how insidiously dangerous these creatures are –and how, no, we are definitely not all narcissists.
I do believe that we all act in our own self-interest –even when we are at our most philanthropic, we still receive the benefit of the happy feelings that we’re a Good Person.
That said, I don’t think it’s evil to be self-interested; rather, when each is taking responsibility for himself, we can all much more simply, ethically, and successfully interact with others (who are also taking responsibility for themselves).
So, the problem isn’t being self-interested. What of selfishness? Sure, we are all selfish at times –I think of that as meaning not only acting in self-interest, but acting in a self-interest that is at someone’s expense.
Thus, I believe that selfishness is wrong. Instead of each person operating within the sphere of their own self-interest and forming mutual, voluntary agreements with others functioning within their own parameters of self; the selfish violate the boundaries of others in order to service their own desires.
Are all narcissists selfish? Absolutely. Are all of us narcissists because we can be selfish sometimes? Definitely not, and here’s why:
Non-narcissists can acknowledge and accept it when they’ve acted immorally –making a choice that hurts someone else (and likely ourselves, to boot) doesn’t make you a horrid devil, it just makes you human.
A non-narcissist can hear a friend, a family member, a colleague, anybody say “that action hurt me”; a non-narcissist can take ownership for his action, sincerely apologize, make right, and proceed to alter his hurtful behavior [this naturally often being incrementally so and not without the occasional, temporary set-back].
Non-narcissists can receive influence from others.
In contrast, as in my introductory description of Brick Walls and Bulldozers in my “Power-Overer ‘Relationship’” post, a narcissist lacks empathy –he is unmoved by your emotions, thoughts, and perceptions.
He –not you– knows what is reality… and somehow you always end up as the “crazy” one who is also wrong. A narcissist doesn’t genuinely apologize and make right –if ever he does, it is for show only.
A narcissist must always have the upperhand, so if he gives any semblance of an apology, it is only because it serves him in the moment and puts him ultimately back into control. Very importantly, a narcissist doesn’t lastingly change his behavior and truly discontinue the actions that are causing you pain.
If it would then seem that the narcissist is causing you repeated pain on purpose, well, then you get the idea!
It’s not that a narcissist is a thoroughly evil person –on the contrary, they are desperately hurting on the inside, though they’d never admit it. Also, a narcissist is a narcissist for some compelling reasons, and narcissism exists on a spectrum [topics for later discussion!].
But the point remains that a narcissist truly, honest-to-goodness doesn’t care about you. That’s what lacking empathy is all about.
So, no, thank the heavens, we are not all narcissists. We can be selfish; we can make mistakes; we can inadvertently hurt others. But we own it when we’re wrong. We make right, and we change. We receive influence from others. We care. We validate their emotions, thoughts, and perceptions. We have empathy.
We are not all narcissists.
But when you find someone who is, RUN AWAY.
Have you ever had a ‘relationship’ with a narcissist?
Would you share your story with us?