Focusing on your narcissistic parent might be like a default setting in your brain—you always return to the same place. This is how you’ve been trained by the narcissistic parent to elevate them. By elevating and asking for them to absolve you, for example, you’ve essentially given your power to them.
The healthier, nontoxic way of being in a relationship would be for you to figure things out based on internal cues from inside you. You may see that what you are feeling bad about having done or said is not actually something you did or say, but rather something that the narcissist did or said. The convoluted dynamic would be complete when you apologize for it.
Adapted from When Your Parent Is a Narcissist
In December 2017, The New Yorker published a short story titled “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian. Highlighting gender expectations, dynamics and the intersection of consent and appropriate behavior, Roupenian explores a brief relationship between Margot, a college student and the older man starts dating, Robert. As her interactions with Robert begins to turn, Margot feels uncomfortable and torn. “Cat Person” became one of the most read fiction pieces of the year. In an interview, Roupenian explains why the story-especially Margot’s actions- elicited such intense reactions and opinions from readers.
“That option, of blunt refusal, doesn’t even consciously occur to her—she assumes that if she wants to say no she has to do so in a conciliatory, gentle, tactful way, in a way that would take “an amount of effort that was impossible to summon.” And I think that assumption is bigger than Margot and Robert’s specific interaction; it speaks to the way that many women, especially young women, move through the world: not making people angry, taking responsibility for other people’s emotions, working extremely hard to keep everyone around them happy. It’s reflexive and self-protective, and it’s also exhausting, and if you do it long enough you stop consciously noticing all the individual moments when you’re making that choice.”
Read “Cat Person” here
Read Kristen Roupenian’s interview here
Famous and wealthy men often get a “pass” when it comes to narcissistic behavior, harassment, and abuse. The personal misdeeds of performers, directors, and Hollywood executives are often overshadowed by their successful careers. In an article from The New York Times, Amanda Hess explains that we can longer separate the art from the artist. Hess writes:
“These men stand accused of using their creative positions to offend — turning film sets into hunting grounds; grooming young victims in acting classes; and luring female colleagues close on the pretext of networking, only to trap them in uninvited sexual situations. The performances we watch onscreen have been shaped by those actions. And their offenses have affected the paths of other artists, determining which rise to prominence and which are harassed or shamed out of work. In turn, the critical acclaim and economic clout afforded their projects have worked to insulate them from the consequences of their behavior.”
Read the entire article: “How the Myth of the Artistic Genius Excuses the Abuse of Women”
Narcissism is a topic that is both seductive and perplexing.
Now, author Steve Almond writes on Cognoscenti about the topic in regards to writing, and it’s instructive and wise on many levels. Among other things he discusses how to write, when to hold judgment on what others write, who “decides” (and who shouldn’t be deciding) who lives a life that is memoir-worthy. He writes about the issue of one writer who wrote an online piece about of a particular sexual encounter:
“The writing itself was candid, but almost entirely devoid of insight. [The author] didn’t portray the incident; she transcribed it.”
Know the kind of writing he’s talking about?
Click here to read Steve Almond’s The Literary World’s Latest Teapot-Sized Tempest: Or, When Writers Attack!
“…I realize how much I want the narcissist to know the truth, my truth. When I think about narcissism, I think about abstinence in the same way those in addiction recovery think about it. I choose, one encounter at a time, to not participate in the dynamic. I trust myself now to know, to sense, when saying something will not help…When I listen to my deeper self, it is often enough to satisfy my need to be “heard.” I understand the power that comes from listening and trusting my deeper self. That’s what I’ve been missing all along, anyway: a connection to me.”
Adapted from Surviving the Narcissist: 30 Days of Recovery
Perhaps one of the more challenging things we want to do is to cultivate compassion for the narcissist. Substituting the word acceptance for compassion can be of great help as we grow accustomed to the concept. Be willing to try this.
The beauty of compassion and acceptance is this: it neutralizes the attachment you feel to the n, to the pain and the hurt of the relationship. If we stop throwing energy at the hurt and pain (and narcissist, even simply by continuing to fume about what happened), the power of the pain slowly fades.
“The only time the narcissist parent does see the child’s value is when the child is working to “create” the parent. In other words, to give the parent an identity that is pleasing to the parent. But what is deemed pleasing to the narcissist parent is constantly shape-shifting, because the external world is forever in flux and their internal world lacks definition (which is an ongoing problem when you are someone who derives their identity from the outside, not the inside). Their internal self is extremely undeveloped and wounded, despite their caustic, controlled, polished, charming, or manipulative exterior.”
From When Your Parent Is a Narcissist
In an article featured on Business Insider, Shana Lebowitz asserts that while displays of narcissism can be varied, there are five hallmark traits typically seen in true narcissists, such as a lack of empathy.
“…the No. 1 sign of narcissism is an absence of interest in other people and an inability to feel for them.
For example, a narcissist might lose interest in group conversations when they’re no longer about them, or feel completely indifferent when people talk to them about their emotions and issues they’re struggling with. That makes it virtually impossible to develop a deep connection with anyone.”
Read the article here
Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT uses the Greek myth of Narcissus and Echo to illustrate the difficulties of a narcissistic relationship. In the blog post featured on Psychology Today titled “The Heartbreak of Relationships With Narcissists” Lancer writes:
“Narcissus and Echo were tragic Greek characters in a story told by the Roman poet, Ovid, in Metamorphoses. This poignant myth crystallizes the problem of relationships with narcissists. Sadly, both partners are locked into a painful drama, where neither feel satisfied or sufficiently loved. Although it’s anguish for both of them, the narcissist blames the cause on his or her partner and sees him or herself as irreproachable. And all too often, his or her partner readily agrees.”
Read the rest here
Publisher’s Weekly has listed the top selling self-help books of 2017-2018. From mindfulness to creative self-discovery to women’s empowerment, Catherine LaSota details the increase in the genre’s popularity and upcoming self-help trends for the new year.
Check out “All the Feels: Self-Help Books 2017–2018” here