The article on Self-esteem sparked me to take a long muse down a road named Narcissism.
So to really get into it I want to share with you a poem I wrote about my self !!!
Shades of Self
Knowing me, knowing you is a song often sung,
But do I know me?
In solitude I am so fine. And am always right.
Can climb the highest mountain, reach the height.
Yet in conversations with you, my halo dims, the varnish shifts, my layers thin.
And if I look closely I see some shades of me I did not know.
So I’ve gathered them together, my collectables if you like, to share with you.
Straight from the shelf,
Not all good-looking, theses shades of Self
There is the Wannabee, the Lookatme, the Knowitall and the Toldyouso,
The ever-present Babbler, and don’t forget these too –
The Mender, Bender and the Defender, all to often the Pretender, the Spender – and the ever ready Opinionator too.
Now, herein lies some stories, characters in tact.
Weave the threads, bring in the gold.
Let it show perhaps too,
Your shades of Self,
In your story told.
I remembered a picture somewhere of a good-looking Greek fella who fell in love with his own image mirrored in a water brook. He had met a beautiful girl, and they fell in love. But it didn’t work out because he just couldn’t get past loving the image of himself !!
Sounds a lot like the dysfunctional marriages of today ! Self-love in personalities can play havoc with harmony and happiness. And it’s not just a case of having a pretty face or a beautiful body. It’s not silly vanity, or an inflated ego, it is far more serious than that and reaches deep into the personality. Narcissism is no new thing ! Indeed its an age-old human condition wired into the human psyche. If it is not transformed, or goes unchecked, it goes to the extreme and becomes a personality disorder that has a huge and devastating impact on the lives of other people. It is a very serious condition, and almost always goes undetected by the carrier.
We all have a Self, so likely there will be some degree of narcissism in all of us. I once asked God if He wanted me to be a butterfly why did He not just make me a butterfly. I liked being me, I really liked myself, why did I have to change ? I thought I heard Him sigh a heavy sigh, but He did not answer, and just let life’s circumstances continue to flow over me. Now some years later, I get a glint of why I had to transform from a worm to a butterfly, it was so that those living with me would have a fighting chance to survive my bossy, over-bearing ways, and self-opinionated personality.
(So sorry Family !)
I have an enquiring mind, but I am not a psychologist. So to get more light on the subject and delve a little deeper into narcissism, I investigated, and came across a site that gave several Psychological approaches, or theories, on the subject. If you are interested you can Goggle https://ruveydacelenk.com/2014/12/23/narsisistik-kisilik
Don’t forget to click on the Translate button. It will give far more understanding on this very complex subject. But best as I can understand it (and that took some time !) I have come to some understanding of the Self.
In the development or construction of the psychological Self or Personality, Observations made, form Perceptions – right or wrong. A response can go up to protect the Self, or a resistance to challenge the perception. So even in our tiniest beings, – where and when most of the Personality is formed – observations lead to responses, that cause us to make a choice that helps us to deal with the emotion or feeling we have observed or experience in life.
Thus the Personality, the Self, is formed through a defence or resistance response (flight or fight), and either route can lead to a distortion – the Lie ! So construction of the Personality (through our thought-life which builds the neuron patterns in our brain) determines what we believe about our Self.
This self-constructed Self, called self-esteem – taken to the extreme becomes Narcissism. Now Narcissism constantly needs to be guarded to portray a desired, acceptable and presentable Self – which in fact can be a False Self. And come hell or high water it demands to be protected and respected, and will emotionally annihilate anything in its path that will want to obstruct it !! And in fact, in my opinion, it should be respected – (I did not say tolerated !) for it is who the person is or has become,…. and that is holy ground – the very portal of hell or heaven !!
That is, until Truth be told, that will help to deconstruct the Lies, that cause us to limp, often exhaustively, through life because we have to prop up the False Self, through fear or performance, to be made acceptable by others, who don’t really care or even matter !
So could you say we need a saving of the Self ? My answer is yes ! Because we are all created with this amazing power called the Will, our choice, our desire – good or bad.
The Will, our choice, is our ‘distinction’ from other created species, and is accommodated in the Mind – the headquarters of the Self. It is at this point of decision where we can embrace a thought or expel a thought. If, we can discern, examine or judge a thought for what it is, we can build a positive construct, if we expel or disregard a wrong thought (negative) it evaporates into a gas and is diminished ! Now that is power – the power of our Will, our choice, our decision – that plots the course of our life.
So it would seem that the forming of the Personality, the Self, or the Soul can form self-distorted constructions (neural pathways) that can, and will manifest eventually in psychological development or disorders, and even deviant behaviour.
What I have gleaned from Psychology is that there is more, much more. In dire cases, the Self or Personality can fragment or split (sometimes necessary for surviving the hurt, shame and pain of trauma), can dissociate itself and form other “selves” or personalities, display patterns of obsessive behaviour, self sabotage on inferiority or insecurity, or roar and rage in smouldering silent angry rebellion. Anxieties and depressions are almost the order of our modern societies. Could these be signs of the True Self wanting out?
Well that is my understanding and opinion, and I suppose I am entitled to it, because after all I’m just a recovering narcissist !
But wait there is more, this distorted Self is not the True Self. So how do you get to dig out the True Self from all the cacophony of voices, distortions and misconstruction. Perhaps then an exercise in the deconstruction of the distortion – the Lie, is a place to begin, enter the psychologist, the healer or the Truth.
After wracking my poor brain on the theories of Psychology and narcissism, I asked myself what is the truth of the matter. So I turned to the pages of the Bible, the book of wisdom, – by the way a must read, – to look a little deeper for the soul and for the spirit. I came across some of these Scriptures that told me that indeed we do have a soul and a spirit. Of course, in Theology there is more, much more than just the psychology of man, in fact a whole magnificent story unfolds of the restoration of Mankind.
Psalm 139:14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
Proverbs 18:14 The spirit of man will sustain him in sickness , But who can bear a broken spirit ?
1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless…..
So, as humans we are made up of the body,the soul, and the spirit. Three engines, if you like, that should function in harmony. The body we know, the soul is taking a little longer to know, and the spirit (the subconscious) which is almost unknown to most. The spirit is very important, because it is here where The Lie operates. It hides itself, like the coward it is, – so undetected, can continue to reinforce even entrench more lies, with invading thoughts, false belief systems, false identities, deviant behaviour, in fact all things devious and deceitful, that cause immeasurable torments, sadness and sorrow in the soul, and play havoc with our happiness and our lives, and the lives of others, especially those near and dear to us.
The Truth of the matter is that we are made in the image and likeness of God. God is love, and God has a will. His will is His desire. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made because, like God, we too have a will, a choice, a desire, that operates through decision.
We carry, in us, the original blue print for Love and for the good, the lovely, the honourable, the pure, and all the value and virtues of goodness. So when we have to make a decision, when we have to make a choice, it should be for the good, for the love of the Self, because our original Self is designed in our Creator’s image. That’s good self-esteem, and ‘narcissism’ at its best !!
That’s what our souls long for, the magnificent Self.
But of course we do not know this when we are tiny tots, rebellious teens or ambitious adults, growing our personalities. So we just develop along the lines of survival, need and greed to feed the Self. That is unless we come to know and accept the love of God, through Jesus Christ, Who loves us with an unconditional love, (warts and all) and wants to set us free from the Lie, to be who we really are – our True Self, in Him. His task is the task of unique restoration, as we are all the same, yet each one so unique in their personality. We find this out when we search the Scriptures that mirror and reveal who we really are, and what lurks and is hidden beneath the surface in our souls.
But where do we begin ? The key is Christ, to accept Him and invite Him into our hearts and our minds, to read His Word, the Bible, and by reading His Word a transformation begins to take place in our thought processes.
Romans 12:2….. , but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Now we are lining up our thoughts with His thoughts, His Will – His desires, which are good and favourable toward the Self, (for we are His workmanship, His creation) , and our decisions will become positive decisions that will be for our good, our development and for the prosperity of our soul, and our lives.
Jeremiah 29 : 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
It is however necessary, to implant the Word of God in our hearts.
James 1:21 …. , and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Is this all just religious talk. The answer is no, because this is what the Word of God, has the power to do, – it is a game changer !
Hebrews 4:12 The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged-sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The Truth, and only the Truth will make us free to be who we really are, and destined to become.
We are complex, us human beings, but with the help of God, and when we begin firing in all three engines of body soul and spirit – can be magnificent in our inward parts, no longer deceived or broken, or functioning out of deficit or the Lie, but made whole, in the right image and with a healthy, life-giving self-esteem.
Narcissism is nothing more than Pride – the very thing that caused Lucifer to lose his place in heaven, and raise hell on earth !
Narcissism is identified in the Greek fables. In the eighties it was labelled Self-esteem, and is found in the Trolls of today’s world we call Virtual Reality – the Internet and Social Media.
We are in the age of consumerism and humanism. The era of ‘the selfie’ ! Progress and development are accelerating. We can reach higher, farther and faster on any level. We need to take care that in our humanism we do not lose our humanity. We need to hold onto a belief system that puts people first. Today’s advanced technology may well pave the way for our younger generation to go into a kind of emotional isolation or “flight mode” – desperately seeking purpose and attention, trying to escape from the gaping holes in their souls. Or is it just sheer ignorance of the Truth about the Self, – the Truth that actually keep us real and mentally and emotionally grounded.
Perhaps its time for change, from face book to face-off to face-to-face, where real interaction with real people help us to see ourselves a little clearer with warts and all. A getting to know the real me, the real you, – and that will take a whole lot of courage because emotional pain is almost unbearable, and will distort any image .
Bring out the mirror, take on Truth, get a little more honest, a little more humble, a little more real, then, observe the personality bloom like a sweet-smelling magnificent rose, for all around to enjoy.
So lets boot out nauseating narcissism, give the selfish Self a big shove to make room for others – and bloom where we are planted in the garden of humanity, – or even too in the cesspool of life.
1 Peter 3:4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.