Your Selfies Make Me Hate You

Note: I don’t really hate anyone anymore, except that guy who kissed my girlfriend in university and that’s mainly because he had a nice truck and I was driving a $500 Biscayne we bought as our first car. Still a douche move.

In my last edition I spoke of my friend Dawn Taylor. This week again we were hard at the conversation and she mentioned that it is common for high schoolers in her world to take hundreds of selfies every day. Every day. If you are one of those who is prone to the lens, posing your lips and putting that one leg in front of the other to prop up your boobs and make you look thinner, you may have issues. That’s right, I’m talking about you Steve. We all know you are beautiful and you don’t need to point it out. You have it going on, baby, you’re perfect just the way you are. Shine girl.

I have a couple of friends who post selfies about stages of their life, or every once in while when they feel like it. I’m not talking to you. Hundreds. Fake accounts to try out 350 selfies, a panacea of self-indulgent spam all to see which pouty face plays best with a test audience.

Psychology geeks do not look at life the same way many others do and if you ask for my professional opinion the selfie thing is far more telling than the average low-grade narcissist may realize. There definitely, absolutely positively is an insane relationship between people who constantly take selfies and words like narcissism and insecurity and trauma. Your incessant need to show other people how you look and love and live (gag) throws up huge red flags to the people around you who are, and I say this lovingly, all sick of you posting selfies all the time in your unreal world of stunted happiness.

I’m coming on a little strong because I promised I would and so the question for all of us is, in light of our addictions to our our phones and our media, how self-absorbed do we want to become? Once the sex robots are sold on Amazon its going to be difficult to get anyone to listen for a decade, so we need to figure this out now. Our virtual existence allows us increasingly to confirm those neurotransmitters that are in the process of hardwiring humanities next phase of existence. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (who incidentally wouldn’t know a thing about this topic so why do you care about their opinion) to know that we are blindly marching into the i-Store, blissfully yet unaware of the effects of such catastrophic technological and cultural changes on our perceptions of reality, and that’s not even mentioning the effect of lassoing our wills to our technology (and that phone I panic over when I forget it at a restaurant).

If you are having a crippling struggle with insecurity please talk to someone. If you are feeling a little bit narcissisty it is important for you and the people you love to have an accurate barometer for your behaviour. Recognize you have a problem and deal with it. The real reason that many people do not move beyond their defining dysfunction is because it’s damn hard and takes years. Most people don’t change because it’s too much work with little interim reward. We’re all insecure but if it is affecting your life to such a degree that you need validation from anonymous stranger-friends in the virtual world than recognize you have an issue and do something about it. You’re better than that, at least for now, and you don’t need 120 pictures of your blowfish lips to prove it. Let’s just say it – you’re definitely getting uglier the older you get so lets all just deal with it and agree to keep lying to each other until it doesn’t matter anymore.

Which brings us to the point of this rant – it is my absolute belief that the secret of life (for me) is caring less what people who don’t matter think about me. I’ve had people who alleged they were my friends say atrocious things to my face and behind my back, and Counsellor Scott has worked this through and screw you. I’m good. I remember the first time someone slammed me hard on this site, before I understood about trolls. It hurt my feelings. I’m a Canadian so I was looking for something much more passive-aggressive. My goal is to care less, not more, about the opinions of people who did not have my best interests at heart.

I’m fairly certain that someday that negative stuff sets in for good. Old people that complain all the time and middle-aged folks who are angry at the government and can find fault in any kind of happiness. Older adults that are still cripplingly anxious, talking about drivel that is mind-numbingly boring. Just kill me. Then again, some of us have grown up as entitled little prima donnas and honestly believe we are inherently better than other people. That stuff infects your soul. The beautiful people have other problems that I mostly don’t care about. You’re privileged, deal with it. Next.

Trauma is also on that list, to the surprise of some. People who are vapidly self-absorbed, who contort their body for 100 pictures at a time, have occasionally been through situations and realities that have scarred them and left them feeling hungry for approval and ultimately love. Terrible experiences can scar you in the most unusual ways. Maybe you were beaten or raped or violated in one of a hundred sick scenarios, anytime from a couple of months before you were born until you graduated from pre-school. Maybe your time came later. Broken hearts and bruised cheeks and someone telling you that you will always be a loser. The older I get the more ways I learn how we can hurt. Sleep issues, mood swings, panic attacks, problems with sustaining relationships of any kind, hyper-vigilence, difficulty with change or addiction to it, even attraction to the bad boy/girl can be an aftershock of getting the shit kicked out of you by your ex or hanging out with that creepy uncle. Some survivors have difficulty sticking with romantic relationships and are control freaks and obsess about how clean the kitchen counter is.

Reason #293 why psychology is cool.

Ask yourself, how often do I look at my body or obsess about a flaw or a judgment from someone whose opinion shouldn’t matter? How important are your looks, really really? I’m sorry I had to be the one to break it to you but no one cares this much about what your truck looks like when it’s dirty, it’s a truck. I’ve never dreamed about your truck. Stop posting pictures of the truck. Now you’ve done it, you have me in a loop.

No one cares if you are shopping. No one wants to see 24 pictures of you getting your stupid hair done. Give us one good picture of you and your bestie in front of the Great Wall of China and don’t stand in the way of the wall. You can post pictures from The Louvre or your skydiving adventure all day, but I can only absorb a limited number of pictures of you on a beach in the Caribbean before I begin to wish you ill will. One is nice, 50 pictures of you having fun makes me think you are rubbing my nose in it. And last, but certainly most gross, a few of you need to know that you’re making some of your friends horny and none of us wants to have to bring up that topic without tequila. Stop making us horny.

0f4fa15f1273f6ed4f2716479fc627f21463907373This is what I’m trying to learn – who cares what people think about me. If you are one of my chosen people than every concern you have is a valid one, but if I’m rarely or ever going to see that person again who the hell cares if they approve of me or not. You can’t be trolled on social media if you refuse to care about what anonymous trolls think of you or your work. Internet comments cannot hurt you unless you let them. I need to grow wise and kind and all that crap, I get it, but who really cares what a stranger thinks about me? Why oh why would I give a flying flip what some anonymous detractor or false friend thinks about my life or my behaviour? I have high quality friends who are completely confident in taking me down a peg, so why would I care what that person said about me on Facebook or to a friend of a friend of a friend of mine?

So think about this need to self-obsess. Some of us are spending way too much time getting our self esteem from our meat sack. Many of us are completely obsessed with our feelings and our hurts and our massive insecurities. I say this with no judgment, go get some help before its too late and you become that ugly version of yourself and die bitter.

In Dating Game, Narcissists Get The Girl

via WebMD:

THURSDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) — Men with high levels of narcissism — an unrealistically positive self-image coupled with feelings of entitlement — have an easier time than others attracting a potential mate, new German research says.

“Narcissism is linked to mate appeal in a real-life situation,” said Michael Dufner, a researcher at Humboldt University of Berlin, who led the study.

The research is published in the July issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Dufner and his team first measured narcissism levels in 61 men with an average age of 25, who were invited to join a courtship study in Germany. “We focused on narcissism as a personality trait, not the personality disorder,” he said. “This means that everybody has a certain narcissism level — for some it is higher, for others lower.”

Next, the researchers asked the men to approach women they did not know on the street and get contact information. It could be a phone number, email or Facebook contact.

Research assistants followed the men (which the men were aware of), observing the interactions. Dufner decided to focus on men in this study because men traditionally court a potential mate in this way, compared to women’s typically more subtle approaches, such as flirting, he said.

“We tested if individuals with higher narcissism scores are more appealing,” he said.

On average, the men approached about 23 women. To rule out the possibility that the more narcissistic men were more selective in who they approached, the researchers analyzed each woman who was approached on her physical attractiveness and manner of dress. The narcissists weren’t more selective.

The narcissistic guys did get the girl more often. The higher the level of narcissism, the more likely they were to get more contacts.

“The effect was not due to high self-esteem, but indeed the narcissism,” Dufner said. The physical attractiveness and social boldness of the narcissists were the two likely reasons for their appeal to women, he said.

Dufner offered some caveats about the research, though. “We were not able to directly test the causality underlying the association between narcissism and physical attractiveness,” he said.

One possibility, he said, is that physical attractiveness may be a partial cause of narcissism, as other researchers have suggested.

For narcissists — and the women they seek — the news is not all good, Dufner said. “Narcissists are charming and appealing at first sight, but they are not long-term romantic partners,” he said.

The study findings confirm what many experts have long suspected, said Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University who has written about narcissism. “Narcissists are very good at initiating relationships,” she said. “On first impression, they come across as confident and charming. The problems arise later on, when you realize that he doesn’t actually care about you — it’s all about him.”

Twenge was not involved in the study, but reviewed the findings.

Caution is the byword for those attracted to narcissists, both experts agreed. “In the long run, narcissists made bad relationship partners,” Twenge said. “They lack empathy and have a difficult time taking someone else’s perspective.”

Twenge said she does understand why women fall for narcissists. “The initial appeal of narcissists comes from their assertiveness and confidence,” she said. “These are stereotypically masculine traits that many women find appealing.”

 For more on this check out my article “Dating The Bad Boy”

Narcissists Who Cry: the other side of the ego

Many of you have been in a relationship or been a friend with someone who was an extreme narcissist. These types of relationships are filled with drama unless you totally please the narcissist, which is impossible. The typical extreme narcissists are full of themselves and are overtly pompous. I would like to focus on a kind of extreme narcissist that most people fail to recognize. First, let me explain what extreme narcissism is all about.

Extreme narcissism is an egotistical preoccupation with self. It focuses on personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how one’s self is perceived by others. Some basic narcissism is healthy. This kind of narcissism is better termed as responsibly taking care of oneself, or what I would call “normal” or “healthy” narcissism.

The egotistical narcissists are typically created in one of two ways. One way is through excessive pampering on the part of the parents. Parents create an attitude in the child that he/she is better than others and entitled to special privileges. This creates an arrogant child who lacks a healthy dose of gratitude and humility. It describes the proverbial brat that no one likes.

Another way that extreme narcissists are created is when a child receives a significant emotional wound or a series of them culminating in a major trauma of separation/attachment. This can happen when the parents, as narcissists themselves, are emotionally disconnected from their child. It creates a dysfunction in the ability for the narcissist to connect emotionally to others. No matter how socially skilled an extreme narcissist is, he/she has a major attachment dysfunction and wound. This wounded person constructs one or more false fronts in order to survive and insulate themselves from people because of distrust and fear (Lopez De Victoria, 2008).

A narcissist is a completely self-absorbed person. There can be no other gods in an extreme narcissist’s world, regardless if they say they believe in God or not. In practical terms, a narcissist is God in his/her own imagination. Ego rules supremely in the narcissist’s life. In light of this, what energizes a narcissist is whatever fuels the ego. Ego loves pleasure and gain. In most cases, these can come from one of two ways of feeding the ego. One way is through aggrandizement, which means “to make bigger.” Ultimately, the extreme narcissist feels he/she is most special and, therefore, entitled. To the extreme narcissist, people are actually things to use.

Another way that the narcissist’s ego gets special attention is through the role of being a victim. Welcome to the victimized extreme narcissist. Most persons recognize ego as arrogance. At the same time they fail to see the subtle deception of ego when it takes the role of a being a victim. As kind and compassion-driven human beings, we easily are fooled by this form of extreme ego. We are constantly hearing the voices of the needy in the media through a variety of forms. The disenfranchised, the poor, the homeless, the hurting, the refugees, the abused, and the list goes on. What we often do not see is that we are many times shamed by these voices for not doing enough for them. All along it is easy to be manipulated as we respond from our hearts. The deception of the ego is that the narcissist can hide behind misfortune and victimization in order to shame you into feeling and believing that they suffer more than you do. They will say that you don’t care enough for them. They will make you feel that you have not done enough to help them. The ego wants attention, control, gain, and power over others by positioning itself as a “poor and helpless” victim. It does this; all the while it soaks up the attention and control over others. In the eyes of an extreme narcissist, their situation is always right and totally justified. Instead of taking responsibility for self and consequences, the extreme narcissist tries to make others feel responsible for their plight. Because extreme narcissists are incredibly adept at the game of manipulation, they will always find a way to turn the tables on you. They will try to make you responsible and feel guilty for not helping them or taking their side and cause.

Extreme narcissists often shift gears from visible grandiosity to acting that they are better than others because they suffer more than others. You can see an extreme narcissist who hogs the limelight and credit from achievements and self-praise also getting similar recognition from milking an injury or a seeming misfortune that has occurred to them. Victimized extreme narcissists are on the constant prowl looking for any gullible soul that will believe their version of calamity whether it is real, exaggerated, or fictitious. What they claim that makes their calamity different is that it is worse for them. Beware of this kind of extreme narcissism. It is just as selfish and manipulating as that of a pompous egotist. The moment they see that you don’t “fully” cooperate and act with extreme concern for them, serving and pampering them, they will eliminate you from their list of “loving” folks. They may even badmouth you and gossip or slander you as being selfish and uncaring. Imagine that! I have seen these types over and over again in work I have done in the field of pain medicine management. It is usually the individuals who are humble, full of gratitude, and joyful who are the ones most capable of coping with their injuries and pain. Those who are selfish, moaning, and full of self-pity take much longer to heal or sometimes never heal but go further downhill in their health. My recommendation is to avoid treating this person’s misfortune as the ultimate suffering of all humans. Be polite. Recognize their pain and no more. Don’t be pulled into their web of emotional manipulation. Stay away from extreme narcissists.

References

Lopez De Victoria, S. (2008, August 4). How to Spot a Narcissist. Posted on Psych Central Web site.

 

Guest Blogger – “Living With A Narcissist”

Oil on canvas*this article originally aired for approximately one hour until the writer was worried about being found out…

Wednesdays I host a guest blogger – professionals, clients, friends, strangers; stories of success and failure, people who are suffering, some who are opinionated, all of whom are a work in progress. These are struggles about real life issues. If you are interested in telling your story email me at info@scott-williams.ca.

Back a few years ago, narcissist was a word I was only vaguely familiar with.  A word in a book title, a word describing someone in someone else’s life,  a word I had trouble spelling.  Two years and hundreds of hours of counseling and self work later, narcissism is something I think about everyday.  I don’t want to, mind you, but when you wake up beside a narcissist every morning, you better know what you’re dealing with.

For years, I had no idea what I was dealing with. My life looked good from the outside and I couldn’t pin down the reasons for my constant turmoil and distress.  My spouse was the very picture of perfect, everyone told me so.  Much of the time, I even believed it myself.   But belaying his sugar-coated exterior was a cavalier disregard for precise truth, concealed agendas, subtle manipulation and veiled devaluation that I experienced on a daily basis; all in the name of a higher good.   I’d become so accustomed to this, I took it as normal.  My sense of normal was skewed, to say the least.

Over the course of my marriage, I slowly lost my self-worth, faith, hope and ability to cope. I was convinced I was the problem, and so were many others. I second guessed all my perceptions and my internal world became so distorted, I wasn’t even sure what was real anymore.  Was I crazy, lazy, fallen, and below par as my spouse so subtly and repeatedly implied, or was he not who he appeared to be?

It’s taken me a long time to wrap my head around what narcissism really is.  Imagine slowly discovering everything you thought about your spouse was dead-ass wrong.  That all the admirable qualities you’d attributed to them, all the good intentions you thought they had, all the motivations you thought stemmed from love actually came from their need for self-aggrandizement.  Then imagine discovering your spouse isn’t really capable of intimacy, true empathy, honesty or truly loving you or your kids.  Is it any wonder it takes so long to wrap your head around such a thing?

And what in the world do you do when that brutal realization finally makes its way in?

Well I’m still learning and I imagine it’ll be awhile yet.  But here’s a tip I wish I’d paid attention to earlier.  When something doesn’t feel right in your life, find yourself a good counselor.  Then tell the truth and deal with yourself.  It took me 22 years of denial, doubt, and second guessing to hit breaking point. Don’t wait that long.

And then educate yourself about narcissism and it’s effects.   I’m learning to question all my assumptions, look for secondary motivations,  trust my gut instincts, have no expectations of a normal marriage; and trying to be patient with how damn long it takes to begin to feel whole again.

This is an unfinished story for me still.  One of learning to understand myself, my circumstances and live at peace in spite of.  It’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose sight of personal change.  But I think it’s coming, in slow painstaking millimeters, and with it hopefully better days.