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Narcissism as a psychological definition is typically seen as self-involved attitudes and behavior where there is little or no empathy for others. Narcissistic wounding starts early in life to children whose parents are insecure, abusive, addictive or have narcissistic patterns themselves.
Narcissistic injury happens to the child when his or her emotional needs are not met. The narcissistic parent has unresolved needs for attention and care taking because his or her needs were not met in their early life. Neglect, physical, mental and sexual abuse, being spoiled and not given structure and limits create the wounding. Narcissism can be an inflated ego sub part or the trait can take over the personality. Narcissistic attitudes and behavior come from the ego defenses that function as smoke screens to hide the deep shame and fractures that came from being hurt emotionally or physically as a child.
The child who was not allowed to have boundaries becomes energetically and developmentally arrested at this level with beliefs of not being safe in the world and being unworthy and unlovable. Thus the Shadow is born with the defenses and negative core beliefs becoming set in the child's repertoire. The child carries this primitive, self-defense core of fear even into adulthood. This is called the “Core Script” or Core Identity, which is like a big lens of perception by which the world is viewed. The defenses remain lurking in the unconscious mind ready to be called into action at any resemblance of threat.
The False Self—Narcissism or Codependency
We can be a little bit hurt or a lot hurt by neglect, abuse or trauma. The depth of the wound to the psyche determines the severity of the insult to the child’s personality and a loss of the true self for the child. A false self develops along with a fragile self esteem of defining identity as feeling good when being given to or giving to others. The child is stuck in early primitive defenses and cannot go through the stage of normal separation from the parents that is necessary for growth.
Children of a difficult, more stubborn temperament defend against being supportive of others in the house. They observe how the selfish parents get his needs met by others. They learn how manipulation and using guilt gets the parent what he or she wants. They develop a false self and use aggression and intimidation to get their way.
The sensitive, guilt-ridden children in the family learn to meet the parent’s needs for gratification and try to get love by accommodating the whims and wishes of the parent. The child’s normal feelings are ignored, denied and eventually repressed in attempts to gain the parent’s “love.” Guilt and shame keep the child locked into this developmental arrest. Their aggressive impulses become split off and are not integrated with normal development. These children grow up learning to give too much and develop a false self of becoming co-dependent in their relationships.
Living on Fantasy Island
People with narcissistic thinking and behavior strive to defend their fragile self esteem through fantasy and have blind spots in their thinking. Living in a fantasy world where all their needs are met and unrealistic expectations take the place of life. They become involved in material things, vanity, and are shallow developing excessive life long interest in things that are not real such as movies, rock stars, soap operas and video games. They fear their feelings, gaining deep friendships and intimacy and cannot develop mature love relationships.
Fantasy can become an attempt to not see what is really there in order to build up a fragile self-esteem. People with narcissistic traits process information, emotions and unresolved pain to make up for what they did not have in childhood. They often place unrealistic demands on others to make them feel better. They cannot tolerate negative emotional distress and turn it on others and blame them instead of looking within to see their own part of the problem. This is the defense of projection—what the person does not like in him or her self, they get angry at others who may have some of that same trait. Projecting one’s anger onto others instead of using it to learn and grow is always limiting.
Self image is distorted with the narcissistic point of view and the person believes that he is superior to others. An inflated self-esteem is a defense to cover up their sense of shame deep within. Grandiosity is an insidious error in thinking that prevents them from blaming themselves and becoming depressed or disintegrated. Creeping narcissism in a person is their succumbing to the gradual demands of selfishness and entitlement by giving in to “I am special” beliefs.
Narcissistic Defenses—the Need to Feel Good at all Costs
Selfish people usually insist on having things their own way at the expense of others. The need to impose getting one’s way over others is an unreal attitude and expectation that sets other people off against them. When the person with narcissistic tendencies doesn’t get what he or she wanted, he feels devalued. Since they cannot tolerate the feelings of fear, hurt, anxiety, helplessness and despair, they defend against them. They deny and rationalize their own contribution to the problems to preserve their own internal fantasy of being all good and right.
People with narcissistic tendencies have errors in thinking which prevents them from seeing things how they are from both sides of the picture. Not wanting to feel bad inside, they build defenses such as denial, repression and a strong need to be right. When the person has severe traits, they can feel an increase in self-esteem when they get what they want and feel no remorse or justify their using others. John Masterson called this rigid type of thinking a “Swiss Cheese Brain” with holes in the brain and mind where good common sense and conscience should be.
Some even get a sense of feeling superior when they get their way or make others feel bad. This is the dynamic underlying bullying. (See my video, It’s not Okay to Feel Good by Making Others Feel Bad at http://www.angriesout.com/ to understand this dynamic.) When hurting others becomes a hook into feelings self-satisfaction, the narcissism takes an ugly turn. There is a cost to this false sense of self-esteem. People who abuse and bully others end up being lonely because others do not want to be around them.
People with narcissistic behavior cannot handle criticism in any way and feel that they are being made wrong. . They are supersensitive to criticism and either attack the other person or they leave the scene. This blaming the person who gives criticism helps the person with narcissistic defenses avoid feeling guilt, shame and depression but it also keeps them from taking responsibility for learning from their mistakes and ultimately from growing up.
They can pout and give the silent treatment or hold grudges. This combination of these defenses that distort reality often set them up for failure in partnerships.
When the narcissistic traits are too severe and causes havoc in the lives of others, there is a disorder. Narcissistic Personality Disorder happens when a person’s outlook is so distorted to the extent that they do not see reality as it is and cannot see the needs of other people. These people are the takers of the world leaving pain and destruction in their wake. If their behavior is left unchecked, they become con artists, manipulators, sociopaths and dictators.
Without empathy for others, people with narcissistic personality disorders can irrationally justify and rationalize their hurtful and unlawful behaviors and may become sexual predators. Family members who have sex with children always have some element of narcissism seeing others as objects that are available for their own sexual satisfaction. High intelligence coupled with a lack of empathy and remorse for hurting others is a dangerous combination for family members. With extreme narcissistic behaviors, the diagnosis may be a sociopath personality disorder.
The Narcissistic Person in Relationship
The two greatest fears we humans have in relationships are fears of engulfment (smothering, being controlled by someone else) and fears of rejection and abandonment. And to spice up the human drama, our greatest longings are the needs for connection and the opposite need for space and individuality. This is the great Cosmic joke! What a set up for problems! And so the couple dance is set playing out these great, universal themes. People with narcissistic traits have more of this quality than other people. They play both these fears out in the relationships with their significant others, yearning for closeness and fearing it the same time.
When the narcissistic person grows up, they harbor the irrational belief that the person they choose for a partner will give them perfect love and make up for all the hurts and slights of their life. People with severe narcissistic traits long for an ideal love to soothe their fragile sense of self. This yearning for getting unconditional love is an unresolved need left over from childhood. Most adults realize unconditional love would be nice, but understand that it rarely happens as people we love usually hold us accountable for our actions in some way. As we should be—no one should be allowed to impose their neediness and bad behavior on others.
In the narcissistic mind, there is a gap between the idealized love and the actual day-to-day dealings with their partner. They long for symbiosis with the idealized love to stabilize the self, but they fear being traumatized by the partner. They seek refuge in being seen as the good guy and try to gain approval and recognition. When this does not come forth readily, they feel wounded, hurt and attacked. Family members learn to back off from confronting them about their behavior and not “hurt their feelings.” Without someone to put the brakes on their unhealthy and abusive behavior, they can become tyrants.
Constantly seeking attention and approval puts them in the precarious position of always needing something from somebody else. As they believe that they are right and others are wrong, they rarely admit to faults in themselves. They can verbally abuse and punish their spouses and children without seeing the pain that they cause as they believe that the person deserves they abuse they dish out. They may try to enlist a child to side with them and turn against the other parent.
People with narcissistic behavior have a sense of entitlement that allows them to break the rules of society. They believe that the laws do not apply to them and they do not feel remorse when they get caught. However they are upset over any inconveniences they suffer as a result of being busted. They believe they have the right to do what ever it takes to get short term gratification without suffering any consequences.
Lying and distortions of reality are considered fair game to shut the other person down. They feel free to cheat on their income tax, take what is not theirs or cheat on their partners. Criticism of their behavior or trying to get them to see what they are doing only causes them to entrench further into defensiveness. When found out in a wrong doing, they get evasive, lie or get angry. They have little or no remorse for the pain they caused the other person, only anger that they did not get away with their behavior.
Intimacy Skill Defects
Narcissists have a lack of insight about understanding and processing of feelings. Instead, they deny their uncomfortable feelings and run from them with the exception of anger. The huge core of shame inside must be protected by avoiding the vulnerable feelings. They avoid taking risks to love and never learn to develop true intimacy. They would rather threaten their relationship than face humiliation, embarrassment or injury to their self-esteem. They are slow to learn the all important skills of commitment such as sympathy, understanding the intentions and motives of their partner, compassion and empathy. They may even choose someone to love who is even more narcissistic and selfish than themselves thus mirroring their own problems.
True intimacy and a lasting partnership require the skills of dealing with conflict. After the euphoria of a new relationship wears off, each partner’s values and belief systems begin to rub against each other. At this point negotiating conflict is necessary for the relationship to continue effectively. Narcissistic people often discount the issues in the relationship and pull away from their partner. The narcissistic defenses of becoming angry, shutting down, minimizing and distancing keep them feeling safe in the moment.
Intimacy is always affected. When problems are never resolved, the partner becomes highly threatened and angry themselves thus weakening the relationship. Typically children and partners who suffer verbal, physical or sexual abuse become so overwhelmed and threatened that they do not want to continue in relationship.
Changing the Pattern
The antidote to narcissistic behavior is to understand how the defenses work, identify and correct the errors in thinking and learn to tolerate frustration, anxiety, sadness and shame. By learning to be straight first with the self, and then with others, these unhealthy defenses can be lessened. Then the person can learn to live in the world of reality even though it hurts at times instead of turning to a fantasy that can never be gained.
People with severe narcissistic traits do not change because they do no believe that they have a problem and what they are doing works for them. The narcissistic defense occurs to keep them from feeling bad so they can’t know their own defects.
People with strong narcissistic traits are not interested in reading self help books or learning about their feelings. What they do works for them—they get what they want and CANNOT see the damage that they inflict on others. They do not want to come to therapy and often have the myth of “I can do it all by myself. I can change if I want to.” while it is apparent to others that they cannot. They are UNABLE to see the depth of their pathology as to know their shortcomings would send them down into great shame which would trigger depression.
Some people with milder versions of narcissistic behavior may change somewhat across their lifetime if they become more aware of their actions because they stand to lose something or someone they love. Some start to admit their selfishness, short comings, defensiveness, inability to take responsibility for their actions. As they grow older, some start to identify their insensitivity when dealing with those around them. With hard work, people with narcissistic defenses can learn conflict negotiation and appropriate, safe anger expression. They can learn to be less self-centered and more empathetic with others.
Some come to couples therapy after years of being abusive asking that their spouse be closer and more intimate with them. What they do not realize is that when there has been great pain and threat, basic trust has been broken in the relationship and it is unlikely that it can be regained.
Education, self-searching and therapy are needed to resolve these defense mechanisms that interfere with the ability to be happy. They can learn to become more real with their feelings; they will gain self-esteem by stretching and growing, even if it means being vulnerable to uncomfortable emotional states. As these new skills are learned, they can achieve more satisfying and balanced relationships with others.
Mature Healthy Narcissism
Everyone has narcissistic behaviors; it is normal to think of ones self and try to get out needs met. We view the world through our own narrow outlook based on our past history and our conditioning. We all need to care enough about our self (narcissism) to pay our bills and function effectively in life. It is only when selfish behavior gets out of hand does it cause problems for the person and those around him.
“Each of us functions with a core of narcissistic, self focused view of the world,” said Marion Soloman, psychodynamic psychologist. Now we all have a bit of narcissism and indeed need some of it to survive. We all have a bit of selfishness in us and that is okay. Otherwise we would end up giving away everything. We need to learn to receive as well as give to be healthy.
Selfishness in a Relationship
Marriage is that relation between man and woman in which the independence is equal, the dependence mutual, and the obligation reciprocal." ~ Louis K. Anspacher, American playwright and director
Selfishness in a relationship is the underlying cause of most failed relationships. Nothing can be more hurting to a partner than the lack of concern, care and love from the other partner. Selfishness in a relationship stems from small incidents and then, it takes the form of a habit in which one of the partners suffers excessively due to the growing unrest in the relationship.
What is Selfishness in a Relationship?
Relationships are the wonderful manifestation of love and care that lie in the human heart. While a relationship based on the strong foundations of love and commitment grows every day, a relationship marked by traces of selfishness and disrespect for the other partner is equally scary. While you can't expect perfection from your partner, it is to be understood that a certain sense of belonging and care is mandatory for the relationship to thrive and blossom. Selfishness in a relationship starts, when either of the partners is too much concerned with the physical and emotional needs of oneself, giving least amount of focus and thought about the other partner.
A selfish partner negatively dominates the relationship, by burdening the relationship with loads of expectations that are often based on illogical premise. A complete denial of feelings for your partner, who is supposed to be your 'better half' is nothing but serious selfishness in a relationship. The gravity of the problem intensifies, when the suffering partner is unable to figure out the cause of such an irrational behavior of the selfish partner. Any talks and arguments about the degrading relationship is refuted by the selfish partner and the relationship seems to be on the verge of extinction. No doubt selfishness in relationships leads to addictive and damaging relationships. Read more on emotional abuse in relationships.
Signs of Selfishness in a Relationship
It is not very difficult to identify the signs of selfishness in a relationship. A sudden and unexplained change in the behavior of the partner is the first signal to some problems. A behavioral change can be due to various factors, like stress or job pressures, but it doesn't mean that the person is not responding to your queries and questions. The partner may stop receiving your call and may even ignore you at home by not talking to you, sleeping in another room and even skipping dinner or lunch with you. While, it is normal in relationships to have phases of ups and downs, it is quite a serious issue if the partner is completely ignoring you, as if you are non-existent. Read more on lack of empathy in relationships.
Fights spice up relationships and to some extent, they are necessary, but the extent of ignorance and irrational behavior by a partner, is much more grievous, in case of selfish partners. It can also be the other way around; the partner may become too much concerned and start expecting a lot from you. Expectations are the necessities of relationships, but the fine line dividing expectations and over-expectations is easily crossed by selfish partners. Any act or behavior from a partner that leads to serious physical or mental abuse of other partner can be considered as extreme signs of selfishness in a relationship. Read more on women in abusive relationships.
How to Overcome Selfishness in Relationships?
Overcoming selfishness in a relationship is not difficult. All you need to do is to consider the other person's thought and feelings, before you take some extreme steps. Some ways that can strengthen your relationship have been mentioned below.
It's all about Right Communication!
The number one killer in most of the relationships is lack of communication. When both partners are unable to communicate their desires and expectations to each other, it opens the gateway for negative traits like frustration and anger to enter the relationship. Right communication is the key to sort out any issue, before it becomes a problem. Never hesitate to speak to your partner. The very premise of relationships is to share each other's life. If you encounter a situation, where there is a chance of misunderstanding, immediately clarify it with your partner. While, eyes are enough to communicate your feelings to your partner, it is best to use words, when both of you are in a bad temper! Remember, the mantra is to express yourself effectively! Read more on communication styles in relationships.
Mutual Trust Matters!
Trusting a partner is something that is vital for every relationship. Selfishness strikes a relationship, when there is no trust. It is only after trust is broken that both partners start looking out for themselves. If you don't trust your partner, it obviously means you are in the relationship for wrong reasons and if not fixed in time, the relationship is destined to break up. So, water the garden of your love, with trust and commitment. Even if arguments and skirmishes occur, try not to blow things out of proportion. Stop being rude to your love. After all, you both love each other! Read more on signs of a bad relationship.
Shower Sweet Words!
The joy of loving and being loved in return, is the most exhilarating feeling in the world. Selfishness in marriage is often attributed to the fact that after certain time in marriage, couples start taking each other for granted. A simple 'I Love you honey' can keep the spirit and love for years, but in the humdrum affairs of life, love is somewhere lost in life. For the newbies in relationship, it is essential that you appreciate the things that you love about your partner and mention them truly. Being fake won't carry on, in a long run relationship. Genuine appreciation makes the person feel happy. We all need attention; in fact, it's a human desire to be loved, appreciated and cared. So, don't let the spark die. Be yourself with your partner; never pretend to be what you are not and selfishness in relationships would never occur. Read more on handling stress in a relationship.
Stand for Yourself!
Love, in itself, has some mystical power that it consumes the person totally. The eyes of logic and rationality disappear from life. If you are a partner suffering serious selfishness in a relationship and the only reason, you are in this relationship is because you love your partner and are still waiting for things to become better, then surely it's commendable. But how long will you suffer? Relationship is not about suffering, it's about sharing. Stand up for yourself. If you have tried your best to get him/her on the track, but still the situation seems hopeless; there seems no point in staying in the relationship and hurting your inner self. Feel proud that you did your best and get out of it. Life has something better in store for you! Start creating your life again! It's stupid to stay with someone who cares least about you. Don't suffer for the wrong reasons; you are not meant for that! Move on! Read more on:
Eliminate Selfishness and Solve Your Relationship Problems
What is Selfishness?
All relationship problems start with selfishness. Selfishness focuses on oneself. It focuses on self-gratification. It focuses on putting one’s own needs above those of everybody else. It focuses only on pleasing oneself. It focuses on always being right, whatever the cost.
A good marriage, friendship, or relationship cannot exist where selfishness exists. Selfishness will quickly destroy any feelings of love and affection that two people may have for each other. Nothing good ever comes from selfishness. It guarantees loneliness, misery, and despair.
There are four things to keep in mind about selfishness:
Selfishness focuses only on self and does not add value to others.
Selfish behavior can be changed by simply changing your focus to service toothers.
Selfish spouses can change when they see the consequences of their behavior.Love them unconditionally and they will want to change.
Many times, working through hard times is all that is needed to correct a marriage in trouble.
Learn how to conquer selfishness and improve your marriage!
Selfishness Cure One: Service to Others
Most relationship problems occur when people become too focused on what they feel they need to get out of a relationship. People in successful marriages are willing to give more than what they expect in return. Giving more than what you expect in return occurs when you love someone unconditionally. The way one develops unconditional love is through service. People in general love those things they serve. How you invest your time and energy will determine what you love in life. It reflects your priorities and what matters most to you.
Here is what you need to do to ensure you love your spouse unconditionally:
Do one thing for your spouse each day without expecting anything in return.
Tell your spouse each day you love them.
Think of one thing each day about your spouse that you are thankful for and write it down. Share everything you write down periodically with your spouse so they know you realize how much better your life is because of them.
Perform these three simple tasks every day and the love you have for your spouse, and the love your spouse has for you, will grow and grow!
Selfishness Cure Two: Understand the Consequences
You need to understand the relationship problems caused by selfishness to truly appreciate how destructive selfishness can be. It says to the other person ‘you don’t matter’. It says ‘you are not important’. It says ‘you are a second-class citizen’. It says ‘you have no say in the relationship’. It also means the selfish one will at some point find themselves alone with no one to love.
The family is the thing hurt the most when selfishness exists in a marriage, but it can also spill into relationships with friends and other associates. This happens because selfishness is a mindset – it is a lifestyle. It is a negative outlook on life and it destroys those in its path.
Loneliness follows selfish behavior. It is quickly followed by bitterness and in some instances disrespect for themselves and others. No good comes from being only focused on oneself. Think about it for a minute. How many happy people do you know that only think of themselves? Be honest, I am defining happiness as someone who can look back on their lives with no regrets, knowing that their corner of the world is better off because of the impact they had on others.
I have never met one selfish person who at the end of the day was truly happy. They have drama in their lives. Someone has it in for them. People don’t understand them, and it is them against the world. The reason is that selfish people can’t see past themselves. Anyone who doesn’t want to serve them has no purpose in life and becomes an annoyance. They believe everyone else was put on the earth to be at their beck and call.
These people wind up in and out of relationships and constantly go through friends. As soon as someone decides they aren’t willing to be their servant, they have no use for them. Over time they burn a lot of people and get a reputation for being difficult. People are then unwilling to take the time to befriend them because they know someone who has been taken advantage of by them.
Understand that if you are selfish in nature, eventually you will drive everyone close to you away. Selfishness will cause relationship problems.
Selfishness Cure Three: What to do for a Selfish Spouse
Unrequited love by a selfish spouse can be overcome. First, tell them how you feel. Let them know how their behavior hurts you and causes you pain. Do so in a sincere way and not in a frontal assault. Hostile confrontation will not accomplish anything constructive. It only will cause relationship problems.
Second, tell them two things about them that you love them for. You want to end on a positive. You want them to know that you love them, but not some of the things they may do. Make sure that you let them know you love them.
Third, love them unconditionally. In this instance love is a verb and defined as demonstrating your love with your actions. Perform small acts of kindness with no thought of anything in return. Do this until it hurts and then love them even more.
Remember, if you want to be loved unconditionally, then you must be able to love unconditionally in return.
Building a Strong and Loving Family: Six Interactive Lessons To Becoming A More Fulfilled Family
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