Monday, June 3, 2013

Simply Irresistible!

I’m a craze you'd endorse, I’m a powerful force
You're obliged to conform when there's no other course
I used to look good to me, but now I find me
Simply Irresistible!
(With apologies to Robert Palmer)

Buckle up!

Do you have problems with sustaining long-term satisfying relationships? Are the people in your world constantly “projecting” back to you a “self” you do not recognize? “No, no, that’s not me. You don’t understand!”  Looking back on those people who were close but are now marginalized or who have disappeared altogether: is one of the common denominators here the fact that these people didn’t continuously applaud your every move or organize their lives around you, your beliefs, or your demands? Does it aggravate you to no end when people refuse to accept that your way of seeing things is the only permissible viewpoint? How many close friends do you have that feel free to give you less than flattering feedback? Do you find remorse to be an alien concept? When was the last time you truly and humbly asked someone to forgive you?  Is a consistent sense of gratitude not in your emotional repertoire? Do you find it difficult if not impossible to truly empathize with others, which is not the same thing as projecting your own thoughts and feelings onto them? When you are with your friends, do you find that you are usually the one directing and even controlling the conversations?

If you were thinking, “Wow, a lot of this sounds like me”? Bad News: You are a Narcissist.  

As Ovid tells the story, Narcissus was walking in the woods one day when he sensed someone following him. Aggravated, he cries out, “Who’s there?” Echo, a wood nymph who had fallen in love with him, replies, “Who’s there?” (Get it? “Echo”?) Revealing herself, she runs up to Narcissus and tries to lay one on him, but he wont have anything to do with the poor girl and tells her to get lost. Heartbroken, she pines away in the woods until nothing is left of her but an echo.

The Goddess Nemesis, being over the Department of Revenge, was not amused by all of this so took out after Narcissus with payback blazing in her eyes. Knowing he would fall in love with his image, she lured him to a lake where he saw his reflection in the water… and swooned. Not being able to tear himself away, he sat there day after day, adoringly peering at himself, until he died. 

And it is here, dear reader, where we get the word, Narcissist.

While we typically think of such people as proud and haughty, narcissism can take on other forms as well, such as the Preening Victim or the Humblest (or The Most Loving) of All People. But it is still all about me, me, and, O yeah, Starring Me!  

But what about those of us who, from time to time, succumb to narcissism-lite, or narcissism with a small “n”?

When the healthy pursuit of self-actualization or self-realization morphs into self-absorption, we have started drinking narcissism-lite: a very addictive brew, indeed.

When I begin interpreting and evaluating people’s attitudes and behaviors solely in terms of myself—my needs, agenda, beliefs, and feelings—I am wading in the dangerous waters of narcissism.

When I go a long period of time only thinking of my own interests and needs and have utterly forgotten or ignored the interests and needs of others, I have been auditioning for the part of a narcissist!

When I am harder on myself than God, when I demand more than God requires, I am informing God that I am what: Holier than Him? Know more than Him? Can you spell n-a-r-c-i-s-s-i-s-t?

The antidotes to narcissism are love and humility. Loving God with all of my heart, mind, and strength, I am reminded that He is God, and I am not, which is the root of humility. Giving my heart and life to loving God, my heart begins learning to love as He loves, love who and what He loves. And humbly loving others as I love myself leads me to care for their needs, their battles, and their souls, as passionately as I do my own. These are the people we truly find irresistible.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013

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