Ever get into a huff that things are not going your way? Are you hurt when you don’t feel understood, and then think that there is either a) something wrong with you or b) something wrong with the person who hurt or insulted you?
We toss the term narcissistic around like a ball. We insult people by calling them “raging narcissists” because, sometimes, when narcissism is pierced, people yell, scream, rant, toss out sarcasm or even calmly blame you for wronging them.
Plenty of books appear on shelves and iPads about how to leave a narcissist. But I could not find a single one about how to love one or awaken to the notion that you ARE one, or at least just a little bit of one, yourself.
Let me explain my POV (point of view). We are born helpless, anxious. We are the only mammals that cannot get up and get to the milk we need to survive. That would make anybody anxious, right? Then we cry and that upsets everybody. Even though they may love us, they don’t like when we cry. So some part of us must be unacceptable, right? Doesn’t it stand to reason that we reject this unacceptable part of ourselves while fostering the Wonderful Part that everyone approves of? And this rejected part? It festers as a seed of shame, a nagging feeling that somehow we are Not Good Enough. We can try to affirm how Good Enough we are ’til the cows come home and still, it nags.
This is the seedling of the narcissistic wound. It grows from here, as the Self is hit by the slings and arrows of pre-school, elementary school, expectations, pressure. We are on the conveyor belt of life that says, “Don’t upset them, you won’t get your milk and then you’ll die.” That’s the voice of the unconscious Baby Mind.
If we are to become whole, we have to turn toward that Baby Mind, that Infant Self and hold it, swaddle it, assure it that all of it is lovable, even the messy, poopy, whiny, rageful and highly imperfect parts. Sure, I make it sound easy, I’ve been practicing mindfulness and psychotherapy for more than two decades. It’s not easy. I still face this Baby Mind at times and it still hurts. A lot. My solace lies in C.G. Jung‘s statement, “I would rather be whole than be good.” It is in allowing the rejected part of the Self to emerge and be loved by a watchful mind that the process of wholeness unfolds. Without it, many of us lurch into old age in fragments of happy and sad, angry and hurt, unaware and unmindful.
Learning of our Selves, leaning with curiosity into these unacceptable places is not for everyone. I would not say it’s an honor to be on this path. As I learned in graduate school while writing a paper about change: “All change comes of necessity.” When the emotional pain heats up enough, or we are left alone because we keep hurting people with our infant’s demands, or the narcotizing with drugs, alcohol, food, money, sex and love don’t work any more, then begins the coalescing of our broken pieces.
If it is necessary to embrace this, we do. If not, we may be content or not, but either way, the unconscious and unacceptable parts of us will either be met or left alone. Ultimately, most of us don’t have much choice in the matter.