The Narcissist In All of Us
Narcissus was a mythological hunter known for his beauty. He was attracted to beautiful things and others were attracted to him. But he rejected his admirers and treated them with such disrespect, some crumbled under the weight of rejection and took their own lives. Narcissus was eventually destroyed when he fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water and short-circuited because he was unable to love himself as much as he loved himself.
We derive the term “Narcissistic” from Narcissus. Psychology Today identifies the hallmarks of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder as “grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding.”
The Narcissists I have encountered see themselves as uniquely brilliant, creative and justified in any behavior they choose. They blame others for their imperfections and demean anyone who doesn’t see the world as they do. They make promises they don’t keep, make excuses for the harm they cause others and feel a need to draw attention to themselves when they fear someone else is in the limelight.
I will be honest. I have trouble with Narcissists. I don’t mind walking with sinners, since I am one as well, and I realize we are all in need of God’s grace. But people who disrespect others, and especially those who have loved and sacrificed for them, are outside of the realm of my comprehension.
Which, ironically, is likely how they view me. As one unable to fully comprehend their near perfection.
Why am I picking on the Narcissist? Because there is a little bit of him in all of us. Our fallen human nature draws us toward self-centeredness and our culture reinforces our behavior.
How do we counter this unseemly trait?
Thankful people are forever mindful of the people who have contributed to their success. They never presume they have “made it on their own”, and they are not intoxicated by independence. Thankful people remember they were created by a good God and they feel a sense of accountability for the life He has given them. They show sorrow when they sin. Sympathy when others are hurting. Appreciation with others are generous.
Thankful people don’t make excuses for their behavior. They see themselves as stewards of time, talent and opportunity, and they seek to improve themselves so they can bless others.
By the way, just because I have trouble with Narcissists doesn’t mean I don’t love them. I hurt for whatever pain they must be harboring that leads them to act the way they do. I am saddened by the relationships they destroy and the sorrow they bring into the lives of those who care about them.
I propose the time we spend in thanksgiving is one way to avoid hints of Narcissism in our lives. Thanksgiving Day is an opportunity to teach our loved ones they have been blessed to be a blessing, and to remind them they must be eternally grateful to the Giver of all things.
Let Thanksgiving Day be a time when we step back from our self-crazed culture and regain our perspective. A time to care for others. A time to put others first.
Remember the Apostle John’s words, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
I am forever thankful He did.