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Posts Tagged ‘selfishness’

This last weekend KOMO News aired a jarring special report about the state of Seattle. KOMO’s Eric Johnson rightfully called our region’s many illegal encampments what they are– dens of addiction. He pointed out that homeless people in general do not live in their own lawless filth; addicts do.

There is nothing compassionate about allowing addicts and the mentally ill to wallow in dangerous and unsanitary conditions– or expecting the general public to tolerate it. Local leaders seem strangely disconnected from the harsh environmental and public health and safety problems that the Seattle area’s tolerance of addiction causes.

This sparked another train of thought on Seattle culture. It’s not just Seattle that’s dying, civility in Seattle is dying. There has been a radical change in local culture in the last couple of decades that has natives feeling like aliens in their own city. Perhaps this decline in civility is universal. Perhaps we, the human race, have become too comfortable, too self-absorbed, to the point that life has become all about us, a collective narcissism.

Hang around our region and you will hear talk of the Seattle freeze. Locals like to debate if it’s real, and no matter what they decide, I hear the same locals discussing bad driving, road rage, rude behavior, and social stigmas. It’s clear that as our population has changed with the influx of high tech workers and money, creating enclaves of people who only associate with like people, we have become more distant from our neighbors, more suspicious, more aloof. Call it what you will; this is not the Seattle of 20 or 30 years ago.

Allow me to give some examples. At Christmastime I was thrilled to have family here from out of town. We went to the Pike Place Market, a couple of us wearing festive holiday hats. We were openly jolly and took some great photos at the Gum Wall, pig statue, and other spots. At the same time we noticed that in the midst of all the holiday festivities most people were quiet, reserved, even morose. We noted that those we did connect with were inevitably from other states.

Jogging over to Westlake we happened upon a young man in a loud holiday hat and told him it was good to see someone else in the holiday spirit. 20 years ago, there would have been a spark of recognition, like “my people!” Instead, he was embarrassed that we spoke to him and said something rude. We were taken aback and at that point began to discuss this very topic.

You might have heard of North Dakota nice. I’ve been shocked at how open and friendly people are in that state. I’ve encountered similarly nice people in Montana. Upon arriving at one store in Grand Forks, a man exiting the store took three steps back and held the door open for me. I thought he was going to flirt but he kept going. I was stunned and asked a friend what that was about. That’s North Dakota nice– people have good manners there. I told her that rarely happens in Seattle; men barge in front of women and show almost no interest in chivalrous (or even just plain polite) acts.

In a North Dakota bar I talked to people I’d never met before, like a happily married farmer, for hours. We found some common ground and carried on like we’d known each other for years. Immediately upon contacting the owners of an ancestral property, I was invited over. Two hours later I was having lemonade with them in their kitchen. One has since passed on, but I still keep in touch with the other. These are not things that happen much in Seattle. You’re not invited to sit with a group of strangers or welcomed like family.

In the greater Seattle area many people react with great discomfort or coldness if you merely speak to them at the grocery store. They will often just ignore you as they paw through their phone. Instead of saying “excuse me,” they will walk right between you and the shelf, or grab something from directly in front of you. It’s like you’re not even there. Sometimes I’ll say, “oh excuse me, am I in your way?” just to call attention to the fact that they are literally right in my space. This also happens in the grocery line as the person behind you breathes down your neck and bumps into you.

The same is true of our driving habits. Many Seattle drivers have a horrific habit of following too closely. If you can’t see my rear tires, you are too close. That is a rule of thumb all drivers should follow. But as Dave Barry said, we all believe we are above average drivers. We all think we can continually creep up on the car in front of us in gridlock and never hit them. Yet many someones hit many other someones every day and the whole freeway gets backed up as a result.

Left lane campers are a tremendous problem around here too. The left lane, by law, is for passing. If someone wants to go faster than you, you need to move right and let them by. I wish the Washington State Patrol would make this their emphasis because one 50 mph slowpoke in the passing lane can slow down 405 from Lynnwood to Renton. These people generally refuse to move no matter what you do to get their attention. Most seem oblivious. Some might be self-appointed speed control patrol. Who knows. But you need to stay out of that lane if you’re holding up traffic no matter what your motivation.

In the past couple of years I’ve noticed an alarming number of people on our local freeways who drive far below the speed limit even when there are optimum traffic conditions. This often happens in the carpool lane. This almost never happens in the far right lane. They can literally slow down the freeway for miles. It’s very dangerous. Similarly, many drivers go far below the speed limit up hills or can’t maintain a consistent speed, then go 10 over down the hill when the speed limit has been the same the whole time.

Many mornings I find myself behind Stardrunks. These drivers operate at erratic speeds and/or weave back and forth. Suddenly, upon the appearance of a Starbucks, they’ll slam on the brakes, make a death-defying right turn, and only signal after they’ve begun the turn if they signal at all. Being behind people who haven’t had their triple grande mocha can literally be like being behind a drunk. They will also make sudden lane changes to make the quick turn into the Starbucks. If I were in another town I’d ask what’s in the water. In this case I marvel over the power of that joe.

Ah, turn signaling… a dying art. People in these parts seem to forget that there’s a little lever coming off the steering column that can be activated with a quick flick of the wrist. Law requires them to signal before changing lanes, turning into a side street or driving, and merging. Using the turn signal is important for their safety and others’. But thanks to an all-consuming laziness or apathy, using turn signals to announce your intentions is going the way of the dodo. They can’t be bothered. Or they’re too absorbed in some piece of technology inside the car to care what goes on outside the car.

Speaking of merging, I have personally asked the Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol to start PR campaigns that throw out Driver’s Ed 101 tidbits on social media. People here can’t merge. RCW has long said that when a lane is ending on a highway drivers need to signal and yield to those in the lane that is continuing. But there are various theories as to what we’re supposed to do, which ultimately results in traffic slowing or stopping as everyone hits their brakes while getting mad about who’s supposed to be merging where.

(There has been legislation introduced to make zipper merging the law– you alternate one car from each lane. If that changes, WSDOT and WSP need to go all out educating the public on the change.)

I mentioned speeding. I’m not a “do the speed limit or else” type. I am aghast at the reckless speeds I see every day– 55 in a 35, 40 in a school zone. Two days ago I saw a man slow down for a red light, then he decided his time was more important and he chose to go right through the intersection anyway. Not the first time I’ve seen this lately– it’s the third time. Stop signs seem to have become optional, particularly on the Eastside. Come to a full stop at a stop sign in Bellevue or Kirkland and you can be honked at. Instead, people choose to blow right through them or just slow down a little and keep rolling. It’s not a pause sign, it’s a STOP sign.

Don’t even get me going on roundabouts– it seems we have both extremes in operation at these delightful donuts. Some people are thoroughly confused by them and will just stop, sitting there stupidly until someone honks at them. Some gun it and blow through these without regard for others. I’ve seen folks drive right up and over the landscaping in the middle. This is another piece of Driver’s Ed 101 our state agencies could be explaining to the masses but all I get is silence.

Shopping and driving are where frequent encounters with rudeness and indifference occur. Another arena for sick and selfish behavior is in our homes. Despite civil or city noise rules, without regard for others’ health, kids, pets, sleep, jobs, guests, babies, or right to quiet enjoyment, people crank up their TVs and music to movie theater level at all hours and live like it’s Wrestlemania. I have been through hell with such people. I’ve been repeatedly threatened when I exercised my rights and pointed out that their chaos does not belong in my living space.

I’ve reached a point that I don’t believe human beings should be allowed to live in adjoining units unless soundproofing between units is mandated by state law. I know many people who’ve had to deal with disgustingly loud and uncivilized neighbors. The property managers or owners will rarely enforce the rules and the cops don’t like to be involved in civil matters. So law-abiding working folks, excellent tenants, are expected to just tolerate the madness no matter what damage it does to their lives.

Just tonight I had a neighbor’s guest block in my car. It could have been innocent yet I was sadly not surprised by the response. Instead of moving their cars, such guests will say they’ll just be a minute (soon 10 minutes) and then I’m stuck. In this case, I politely told the guest that I might need to leave later and asked her to move a bit. She snapped at me, saying I should have parked somewhere else if I needed to get out. That’s not the point; the point is that she’s blocking my spot. She did move and I put a road cone in front of my vehicle to protect my spot. As I told a friend, I would never dream of being that rude to someone in their own home.

(P.S. The road cone disappeared that night and has not been seen since. So now it’s okay to steal as well?)

Every day. This is every day in Seattle now. “I’m more important.” “My time is more important.” “What I want is more important.” That’s how we shop. That’s how we socialize. That’s how we drive and park and live. Every day idiotic daredevil driving endangers the lives of others and sometimes takes lives. Every day we move a little farther back from human civilization into some sort of relational Dark Ages. The really sick part is that we’re getting used to it, “oh, that’s just Seattle now.”

No. I don’t accept that. I don’t like that some people only associate with people who look like them, or have expensive hair or clothes like them, or believe what they believe. We used to celebrate what we have in common; now it seems like Progressives can’t be friends with conservatives and Methodists are avoiding the Mormons. We’re Americans, people, a diverse bunch with a common heritage, language, and culture who are supposed to be able to work together to preserve the republic regardless of our differences. Instead our brains are filled with a constant barrage of taking head rhetoric that wants us to look at each other funny and deprive others of their constitutional freedoms when their thoughts aren’t our thoughts.

Seattle is a paradox. Elected officials like to trumpet our alleged inclusiveness and diversity while openly ostracizing and ridiculing viewpoints that aren’t as narrow as their own. Those who disagree can be called haters, racists, bigots. There is no respect for viewpoints outside of the same myopic “tolerance” that is turning this city into a giant Superfund site. Is it any wonder that the larger culture reflects these deep chasms, this distrust, this gaslighting and crazymaking? It reminds me of high school, where the “cool kids”– generally the rich jocks– acted intellectually and morally superior to the rest of us when they were neither. If some did condescend to speak to the “others” it was usually because it was on a topic important to themselves. Or to put them down.

Next time you’re at the grocery store, may I suggest saying something kind to a complete stranger instead of shunning them? Or helping the woman struggling around the store on crutches? Maybe returning a cart for an old man or thanking the bagger and the cashier? What about finding out the name of the man selling Real Change even if you have no interest in the publication? Could we say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me,” use our turn signals, drive like there are other people on the road, and park within the lines? Is that so hard? We all learned this; somewhere along the way we’ve decided we’re too good for it. Or we’re too busy. Or manners are only for the peons.

Let’s break this freakish, frigid, nasty rudeness and oblivion that has a stranglehold on our city. Every time we decide we’re not going to practice basic manners or good driving we’re taking another brick out of the edifice of human civilization. This is how you lose a civilization. These little offenses become larger offenses. The larger offenses become the new normal. We become so exasperated with what’s normal that we too are sucked into the void of incivility. Zombies create other zombies. We’re better than that.

We might never become North Dakota nice or have Montana manners. We might never address our elders as Mr. and Mrs. or sir and ma’am. We can practice human decency and choose to maintain a conscious awareness of how our actions affect others. I know some of you will point out the influx of other cultures and the number of out-of-staters (ah hem, Californians) who have moved here. Formerly outside influences can change a local culture, for better or worse. I’m highly concerned about the lack of value people from outside of Washington place on our local environment, especially our wildlife and trees. But if locals hold the line and maintain some semblance of normal, we can not only preserve what’s good about Seattle but help make those manners, objectiveness, and kindness normal for our new neighbors as well.

Seattle is dying, Eric Johnson. I agree. But not just physically. Our civility is dying. There is a cultural rot. A spiritual stench. A loss of human empathy and emotion. An acceptance of narcissism as the new normal. I am superior to you. I need to get somewhere faster than you, therefore I am justified in risking your family members’ lives in traffic. I already know what’s best so there’s no point in listening to you. I have no regard for your feelings, your personal space, your pain. You, by the very nature of your political and religious beliefs, are inferior to me and I want nothing to do with you. You don’t look like me, you don’t drive a car like mine, you clearly are not on my level.

No. No no no. Let’s stop this. It is a cancer. It is a blight. Choose to say one kind word today to someone in public and we can all start rolling back this red tide. Ignore the divisive power-hungry politicians. Tune in, be aware, be objective, be different. Let’s coin a new phrase– Seattle Civil. We might not all be comfortable with outgoing and gregarious greetings or stepping out of our social comfort zones. But we CAN– WE MOST CERTAINLY CAN— be civil to our neighbors. They are not ghosts, they are not “lessers.” They are every bit as real and human and vulnerable as we are. Speak to them as if they matter. They do. As much as you do.

Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.

Vince Lombardi

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©2019 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.


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Ye Shall Be 1

It’s the original lie: you can be your own god. This seems to be the mantra that narcissists exercise regularly through their thoughts, actions, and words. THEY are superior. THEY are special. EVERYONE should bow down to their every whim, whine, and wish.

We all know these people. Somewhere in their dysfunctional upbringing or exclusive social cliques, they’ve lost touch with anything resembling humility, gratitude, and empathy, trading it in for a soul-sucking mentality in which the world revolves around them. Period. No one else’s wants, needs, or views could possibly be as important as theirs.

Narcissists are cheese graters on the nerves of life. Their self-absorbed temper tantrums and constant demands drain those around them of their time, money, and energy. Their extreme need to be the center of attention and be praised or spoiled is exhausting. Narcissists are sometimes talented people, but they believe the spotlight should be on them far more often than their actions or efforts merit. If they are particularly gifted in certain areas, they might well be deficient in their social skills or lacking meaningful relationships altogether. All that glitters is not gold.

To be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) by a mental health professional, a person must have five or more of the following symptoms (the symptoms have been copied directly from Psych Central):

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Notice how these traits are very much the opposite of what God requires of us. The more deeply these traits are indulged, the farther away we get from values that require us to love our neighbors as ourselves and respect our Creator. It should be no wonder, then, that narcissists wreak so much havoc in life. The path they are walking leads further and further away from the original design. Eventually it leads downhill and over a cliff. It will never come to a good end.

Like a lot of people, I’ve interacted with narcissistic people in nearly every area of my life. I’m sickeningly familiar with each of these symptoms and have experienced the damage they do to families, friendships, workplaces, and organizations. Narcissism can factor heavily into family violence and workplace bullying among other evils, and narcissists often get away with being childish, sadistic tyrants because people won’t stand up to them out of fear or because they’re concerned about litigation. To protect myself and my family, I’ve had to end or severely limit relationships with narcissists multiple times.

Ye Shall Be 2

Over the years many arguments have been made that some degree of narcissism is essential to success. Successful people, of course, are frequently confident and competitive. But you don’t have to be a jerk to get ahead. You can be driven, sure of yourself and your God-given abilities, and focused without being a massive black hole that devours everyone else’s happiness and sanity. You don’t need to steamroll over everyone else to achieve great things, or even to create the appearance that you have. When you are living as the person your Creator intended you to be, your actions and achievements will speak for themselves.

Looking more closely at each symptom gives a clearer picture of why those with a narcissistic bent, diagnosable or not, can be so taxing to be around. When someone has a grandiose sense of self-importance, it’s like they want the first place trophy while giving a third class performance.

I remember seeing an audition for American Idol one time in which a young girl gyrated and mumbled a Christina Aguilera song. Her mother became very upset when the judges passed on her, snapping, “she’s the total package.” I was taken aback because her daughter’s audition didn’t show any exceptional singing, dancing, or entertainment talent, but in her mother’s eyes, she was Christina’s clone. While it’s good for mothers to cheer on their children, this mom seemed delusional (or possibly tone-deaf).

Similarly, narcissists believe that just because they have some good qualities or talents, they are THE BOMB. They can have a very skewed and unrealistic view of their own abilities. In their minds they can be royalty, worthy of the highest honors and awards without putting in the sweat equity that would get them to that level. Does the word actor come to mind? There are actors and actresses who carry a heavy sense of self-importance because of their acting resumes. But I puzzle over their fame when they seem to play the same guy or gal in every movie.

Do they truly deserve the attention and praise lavished upon them? Or do we pay attention simply because they and their agents make such a big deal of themselves? This reminds me of the “popular” kids in high school. Were they “popular” and “cool” because they were friendly, kind, generous people, or because they constantly kept themselves in the public eye through their drinking, sexual escapades, and designer clothes?

Narcissists can be more than preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love– they can be obsessed. The Great Gatsby is a fair example of this. His desire for riches and success (and Daisy) motivated him to go to extremes that were eventually his downfall. Narcissists don’t want imperfect love; they want perfect, effortless love (which often involves meeting a mirror image of themselves, because it would bore them to partner with someone who has different interests). They don’t believe they should rise to middle management and spend a career there; they believe that they should be the CEO, whether qualified or not. They can live in a fantasy world in which their family members and friends become swept up in, and expected to work towards, their lofty dreams. I’m all for aiming for the moon and being the very best, but that involves a strong individual work ethic, not climbing up others’ coattails and bank accounts.

Believing that he or she is special and unique, and therefore should only rub elbows with other special or privileged people, is another frequent trait of narcissists. In their minds, they are so special and unique that 99 percent of the world’s population is riff raff who are beneath them. They think that only other chosen ones can truly understand them because they are superior to the rest of humanity.

Ye Shall Be 3

Now God did, in fact, create each of us as special and unique individuals with a purpose and mission. No human is an accident. You are worth more than gold to Him, so much so that His son died to bring you life everlasting. He did not, however, intend for you to be an elitist snob who only associates with other intolerable elitist snobs. While we should choose our friends wisely, it’s important to remember that the ground is level at the foot of the cross, and your life is not worth more than the guy’s standing next to you in the checkout line.

Narcissistic people have a serious need to be told how good-looking, talented, funny, hard-working, insightful, creative, generous, ___ (insert another adjective, repeat, etc.) they are. They might not be any of those things, but boy do they need you to remind them every single day that they are all that and a super-sized bag of potato chips. If you dare to suggest that they need to make some improvements or aren’t as spectacular as they claim to be, they will attack you. When you do so, you are disturbing their fantasies and their skewed view of themselves. Perhaps that attack comes out of a deep-seated insecurity that could even have traumatic origins, but it’s vicious and unnecessary.

“Has a very strong sense of entitlement.” Whew… I think I have a PhD and a black belt in dealing with this narcissistic demon. When you are around a narcissist, you had better jump when they say jump. You’d better act scared when they want to be intimidating. You’d better grovel and beg and mooch as soon as they hold out the royal ring. If they want food or sex or to watch a particular TV show or to be entertained– you’d better snap to it regardless of your own needs or time.

THEY dictate the terms of your relationship. THEY decide what is best for you. They will punish you if you don’t bow down immediately, and will incessantly remind you of your failures to comply as time goes on. The only way you can stay in their good graces is to treat them like a god. If you have a discussion about people’s rights, they are only concerned with their rights. Any exercise of your own rights is seen as a violation of theirs. If you try to solve a problem, you will soon find that not only is the problem yours to solve, but you are the cause of the problem as well.

Narcissistic people have, as the symptoms say, unrealistic expectations of the people around them (even the pets around them). Like a spoiled prince with half a jelly donut smeared all over his face who has tired of breaking his new toys, they will demand that those around them pay attention to them at all times and keep them from being bored. They take little responsibility for furnishing their own amusements. They want everyone around them to “dance,” as if they are toddlers who need mommy or daddy to keep bringing them the latest and greatest gadget to bounce around their highchair tray and then toss onto the floor. While they should be asking what they can do for others and how to engage others in mutually enjoyable activities, they are so laser-focused on themselves that life with them is a 24/7 reminder that you exist for their pleasure.

Exploiting others is as natural to narcissists as planting a tree in the ground. That’s where you’d plant a tree, right? So that’s what you do with other human beings. Whatever can be gained from the people around them will be taken unless they are stopped. They are powerful vacuum cleaners who contrive all sorts of darling (yet usually transparent) lines about how to gain your money, get you to pay for a trip, buy them clothes, and generally take advantage of you. Some can be intimidating and mean rather than darling, but the goal is the same– to use you as a filling station on the road of life. You are a means to their fantasies of perfection and glory.

It should be noted that narcissists don’t just exploit your time and money, they can exploit you sexually, emotionally, and in other ways. In their eyes their victims must seem like one-stop shopping centers. They pick and choose what they want for themselves regardless of the costs to their victims. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been exploited before or have little to give; what matters is that your store is open. This is why it’s so important to set and maintain boundaries with narcissists, and cut off the relationship altogether if needed. Don’t let people tell you that you have to keep a door open for a narcissist because they’re family, or you’ve known them for years, or they’re your boss. You already know the hell they cause and need to draw a line in the sand to protect yourself and your own people.

Ye Shall Be 4

Narcissists lack empathy. What is empathy? It is the ability to stand in another person’s shoes. Narcissistic folks frequently lash out at others when their demands aren’t being met. They will say the ugliest, most horrible things to try and force others to comply with their wishes. They will tell you you’re stupid, ugly, unfair, evil, selfish, abusive, and any other insult during their tantrums designed to force you to give in. They don’t care how much this hurts you or how low this makes you feel. Yet if someone were to call them stupid, ugly, unfair, evil, or even one of those things, they would be horrified at how deeply you’ve wounded them (and not let you forget it). “Do unto others” is lost on them because life’s all about them.

People like this are often envious of others and think others are envious of them. Their eyes are on what makes them most noticeable, the most outrageous, the most “popular.” They will sometimes do shocking and perverse things to remain the center of attention as they attempt to outdo their perceived “competition.” Again, this sounds like high school. But it also sounds like a lot of so-called celebrities who are basically famous for being famous (or because they “leaked” a sex tape). Life is a cutthroat beauty pageant for them. When they enter a room they want everyone to drop what they’re doing and come fawn over them as if they’ve floated in on a throne perched on clouds. If you don’t pay these games, then you’re “jealous” of them or there’s something wrong with you.

This brings me to the last symptom of NPD, regularly showing arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes. I once worked with a woman who liked to let me know that my opinions and beliefs were inferior to hers. There was no rational basis for her objections; she just enjoyed trying to let others know how superior her tastes were. If I was talking to other coworkers about how much we liked ravioli, she’d enter the conversation uninvited and expound upon the reasons that spaghetti was far superior to ravioli. The verbal spaghetti bludgeoning would be accompanied by a knowing smile and chuckle, as if the rest of the idiots in the office didn’t have the mental capacity to comprehend why no adult could possibly like ravioli better. What a sad way to live. There was such an unhealthy need to dominate others’ views and conversation, particularly mine.

Narcissistic people are adept at communicating like snotty little fifth graders who don’t want the kid in hand-me-downs to play with them at recess. They sometimes lack adult communication and problem-solving skills, yet believe they communicate perfectly well and continually remind you that “you’re not listening.” They like letting you know that you’re not ___ enough (insert giving, fun, adventurous, cool, smart, or other adjective) but that they are. Just the other day I was listening to this type of person extol their own virtues and was reminded how much I can’t stand being around this. I was doubly reminded when I tried to find common ground and a personal jab was taken to remind me that they were “superior.”

If you identify as a narcissist or struggle with NPD, please consider how much your arrogance and haughtiness alienates people. Your family members or coworkers might have to tolerate you to the extent that they see you at family gatherings or work with you every day, but in time they’re going to pull away to protect themselves. If you treat them as commodities rather than fellow travelers on the road of life, your motives will become obvious and they will create distance. Everyone needs a support network and some semblance of a family, so you’re ultimately damaging yourself and your world by being so take and not give. Someday you’re going to wake up and find that they’re no longer there for you, and that will be a very lonely place to be. Now is the time to seek help. You need an intervention. You need therapy.

You also need your Father. Why? By setting yourself up as what we call in my church a little g god, you are denying the power of the big G God in your life. God is love. Who would deliberately turn away more love? Love can cause a radical shift in our behaviors and worldview. The more love we have, the more inclined we are to turn outward rather than focusing inward. The more love we have, the more we ask what other people need rather than what they can do for us. The more love we have, the more power we have to change the world in ways that can last forever. As Marcus Aurelius said, what we do now echoes in eternity. Do you truly want to be remembered as someone who never matured beyond an infantile sense of self-entitlement, or do you want this life, this mere beginning in the grand scheme of things, to count for something far greater than yourself?

Philips Brooks said that the true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is. Stand at your highest, and then look at Christ, then go away and forever be humble. How small we are indeed when the created try to measure up to the Creator. No matter how magnificent we think we are, not one of us has ever spoken one complex little atom into being. Not one of us makes the stars come out at night or makes the grass grow or can cause a man and a woman to look at each other and experience a depth of feeling so profound that they are left speechless as some ancient memory is stirred. There is simply no value in being a narcissist when you consider that all of your greatness and all of your glory has been made possible by Someone infinitely wiser and more powerful than you anyway.

If your life is being impacted by a narcissist, start setting boundaries today. Lay down clear ground rules and do not waver from them. You must also provide consequences for violations of those rules and boundaries. You might also need to take away the tools they are harassing you with. You might be in a situation in which you have to tell the person that you will only communicate about specific matters at certain times and by certain means. If you have to obtain a court order to enforce this, do so.

Narcissists will pick at you and remind you of how needy they are by every means imaginable. You might ask them to only speak on the phone and ignore their obsessive texts, or you might ask them to communicate in writing only so you have a record of what was said. Don’t respond every time they prod you. That rewards the bad behavior. Expect them to act within guidelines and stick with it. This applies to children as well. Don’t give in to them by jumping every time they say jump. That’s how narcissists are made. You’re the adult; lay down the law and provide consequences when they start acting like they’re the grown-up instead.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a real problem and can’t be fixed overnight. I believe it can only be fixed if the person exhibiting those symptoms truly wants to change. To change, they generally need to realize how their mindset and choices are hurting themselves. They’re not good at understanding how their actions affect others, so they need to realize that ultimately their behavior is self-destructive and that people they depend on will only tolerate it for so long. So you cannot continue to allow them to act like little tyrants with jelly donut on their faces. You are doing both them and yourself a disservice if you don’t set boundaries and– boom– put them on notice when they try to cross those, which they inevitably will. Think of a gate that comes down when a drawbridge is about to go up. They shall not pass.

Ye Shall Be 5

In conclusion, I am deeply disturbed that narcissism has become so pervasive in our society. Every day self-centeredness is evident by people’s driving, shopping, lack of manners, and lack of empathy. WE are more important. WE are entitled to great things. MY time is more valuable. These are the lies that are dividing people instead of bringing them together. These are the lies that crush families and destroy relationships.

My hope is that as we look towards true perfection, and a truly flawless character in our Creator, that we will use Him as the mirror in which to look when wanting to compare ourselves and not each other. In this form, in the here and now, we were not created to be as gods. We were created to glorify the one true God, and in doing so, to become more and more like Him instead of more and more like humans who took a chance on the lie and ate the apple. The original lie has never worked and it never will.

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Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self… Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.

-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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©2014 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Eight years ago Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccilo published an obscenity-riddled divining rod to help women sniff out the losers in their lives. He’s Just Not That Into You is an easy read penned by a writer and a consultant for HBO’s Sex and the City. I can’t stand the show, by the way. It was an garishly self-centered jaunt through the lives of materialistic, hedonistic urbanities that legitimized whoring around.

The book, however, was groundbreaking in the sense that it provided straight talk by a straight male about relationships. Most of the relationships discussed are sexual in nature, so this book is not for those who refuse to acknowledge that such issues exist in the church as well as the outside world. Unfortunately Christian books and the church often just tell people how to live and don’t provide support when singles live outside the lines. They do little to bring them back into the fold or recognize the issues that motivate singles to compromise their values. (more…)

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This morning in church I happened to sit at the end of a row with many empty seats in the middle. Attendance seemed low due to a concurrent event, so there were a number of available seats.

A couple came in and asked if they could squeeze past me to get to the middle of the row. I moved my stuff, stood up, and let them by. It was no big deal, but I’ve often wondered why people gravitate towards the middle seats when others are available. A lot of us latecomers just slide into the end seats. (more…)

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Selfishness

Today a friend who is well aware of my crusade against selfishness and narcissism emailed me this link: http://www.maritalhealing.com/conflicts/selfishspouse.php

This article by Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons of the Institute for Marital Healing is lengthy. But it includes a couple of questionnaires to help people determine how selfish they are and where that selfishness comes from. (more…)

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Barone

It’s all about you.

Or so many popular sitcoms would have women think.

Since the early 90s I have puzzled over why so many wife-mother figures on TV nag, nitpick, and otherwise treat their husbands like they’re mindless little boys in need of constant correction. The leading ladies on Home Improvement, King of Queens, and both the wife and the grandmother on Everybody Loves Raymond come to mind, for example. (more…)

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