What drives us and what makes us better… the journey of self-awareness requires us to face some unpalatable truths
There are a lot of talks globally about narcissism these days. From the wonderful videos of the fabulous Dr. Ramani to a host of other literature in various formats, we are increasingly being made aware of who in our lives, both personal and professional, are likely to be narcissists… bosses, friends, romantic partners, celebrities, politicians, cult leaders, colleagues. It seems the human population is an ubiquitous minefield of self, serving, manipulative, deeply broken people who will destroy us. The experts tell us how to recognize this phenomenon, how to recover from it, and how to avoid it if we can.
I’ve had my share of narcissists in my life. Partners and bosses certainly. Girlfriends… yes, quite a few. Relatives… goodness, yes. In fact, after being bombarded by all this information out there, there was a moment I truly believed my dog was a narcissist as he was brilliantly manipulating me into doing everything he wanted.
Conversely, there is a wealth of knowledge out there in the big, bad world about being authentic and connecting to our spiritual selves, forgiving and loving humanity, and embracing that rather nebulous notion of self-awareness. I always struggled with these. Does true self-awareness require us to forgive those who harm us and be loving to those who seek to lay us low? I suppose I’m embarrassingly human in my need to bite back and growl at those who don’t value me in the ways I want to be valued. And in that admission, I realized something quite profound. That self-awareness is not just about setting boundaries, communing with the inner divine, or being the hero in the story we write in our heads or project to the world. Self-awareness is at the root of every religion or philosophical school of thought. It is an awareness of our own flawed nature and learning to curb our natural tendency to wound others, and ourselves in the process. I know a rather wealthy lady who likes to draw attention to her gourmet lifestyle on social media. It gave me enormous pleasure, once upon a time, to counter her posts with a few well-curated ones of my own, drawing attention to my own even more ‘distinguished’ everyday living. And THAT was the narc in me coming out to play…
We are all on a spectrum. And we all have a thriving inner narc that will emerge from time to time. One of the best ways to be self-aware, I realized, was to recognize when the narcissist in me was exhibiting itself in all its brilliant guises. Indignant self-righteousness was my favorite, as it turned out. And so, I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to curb my enthusiasm for my grand self that I wanted the world to witness.
So I stopped posting on social media for many years. I stopped dressing to compete with other women and consciously tried not to brag about my achievements. And slowly, painfully, I learned to give without expectation of return. I learned to be happy, validating myself, and genuinely cheering others on. The narc in me is still there, but I keep her under close watch.
Because I know now, that perfect as we all may think we are, our innate narcissism will always make us the devil in someone else’s story. Because if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we will admit that the first narcissist we will ever meet will be looking back at us from the mirror, and managing that particular narcissist will help us manage those in our outer world.
Sangeetha Shinde Tee is an author of four books, editor of 3 international magazines, an acclaimed healer, and reluctant entrepreneur. Also an unconventional traveler, rebellious truth seeker, and inveterate animal rescuer, she is working on her fifth book – a collection of ghost stories from around the world. Find out more about her life, books, and work at www.sangeethashindetee.com