After many years focusing on narcissism and abuse I find myself transitioning into the phase of “what comes next.” For me the next step is to take the time to really focus on the book I’ve been working on that addresses the transformational journey inspired when we look deeply into the mirror of narcissism.
I often talk about how narcissism can be the catalyst for our inner transformation because it takes us to the deepest parts of ourselves and helps us to embrace our own shadow. My interest is no longer in studying and researching narcissistic personality disorder, but rather understanding our personal and spiritual journey as we find our authentic selves. I believe this is a journey that is calling to the greatest part of humanity now. It is necessary that we shed those old skins and illusions while we find what is real and true in our lives.
Often times as we go into our narcissistic relationships we bring along our own false, illusionary selves believing we are who we believed ourselves to be, be prior to meeting “the one.”
After we go through the fall, or the melting away of the illusion we find ourselves to be empty and it is difficult to grab onto any part of our former self. It seems we have lost everything, because we have. In order for us to let go of our attachments to the person we believed ourselves to be and to the man or woman we believed the narcissist to be, the illusions have to crumble. We are left sifting through the ashes of our former lives searching for clues. But it is from these very ashes that we, like the mythological Phoenix, rise from the ashes of our own destruction to be born a new.
Many people who find themselves in narcissistic relationships have difficulty letting go because as long as they are clinging to the illusion they don’t have to face the inevitable pain of loss that happens when we face the biggest and darkest dragons in our lives. Not only does the narcissist seem to embody the dragon, the one we find ourselves fighting against, but he or she also reflects that part of ourselves that has been cut off from the light. Part of our journey is to face our own shadow.
Many people ask me the question “how do I know I’m not the narcissist?” I usually answer something to the affect of “if you were the narcissist you wouldn’t be asking the question, because narcissists don’t look at themselves as the source of their problems. They project outward!” But we also wouldn’t find ourselves asking the question if we didn’t have some aspect of the narcissist within us.
Perhaps the narcissist within is what Sam Vaknin refers to as the “inverted narcissist” which would be more like the “repressed narcissist.” This is the part of the self that is suppressing its own egoic need to appear special, superior, admired, adored, sought after, etc. It is the part of the self who seeks approval and admiration from external sources because we don’t truly approve of ourselves. It is the part of us that seeks validation from external sources because we can’t seem to validate ourselves. With the narcissist, the more you get to know him/her, the more s/he begins to show his/her true colors. There are manipulative efforts to hold up the illusion of the perfected false self.
In our society we all live in the illusion of the false self and a great many of us are seeking to know the truth of who we are. We are peeling away the layers of who we are not to reveal what is true and authentic. We discover our gifts, our purpose for being here and we learn how to choose more wisely the people we spend our time with.
Some wise teachers will tell you that you become most like the people you surround yourself with. If this is true then it would be a worthy goal to assess the people we hang around the most and ask ourselves the question “Is this who I aspire to become?” If I spend all of my time with a narcissist then will I become narcissistic?
Although many of my clients who have spent years with a narcissistic personality fear that they have become narcissistic in his shadow. It is more likely that a lack of balance has occurred. My clients energy has been depleted and she becomes more vampiric with others in attempt to replenish her energy supply. In order to avoid becoming vampiric, (an energy drain on others), it is important to learn how to replenish our energy supplies without tapping the energy resources of those around us.
It is obvious to most of you by now that you won’t be getting any energy from the narcissist in your life, but you can get energy from planting a garden or even a flower pot on your patio.
Nature is the greatest nurturer, if we align ourselves with it. So never underestimate the healing power of taking a walk in nature, putting your bare feet in the earth, and digging in the dirt.
Another great natural energy source is the sun. Many people have learned to see the sun as an enemy that can burn and cause cancer. But sun is a very necessary component to our health and absolutely necessary for life to thrive. Taking in the sun, in small doses during the day can really recharge your battery. If you need to wear a hat and some light sunscreen then do so, but get outdoors and walk, work in the garden or just have your morning cup of tea on your sunny deck or patio.
Food is an obvious source of energy and it is so important to pay attention to what goes into our bodies. The majority of Americans follow the “Standard American Diet” which consists of mostly processed food, meat, sugar and dairy, much of which is toxic to the body, and utilizes a great deal of your energy reserves for the process of digestion. Getting back to nature with your diet can make a world of difference in how you feel. Try and base the majority of your diet around fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, herbs, and sea vegetables.
Often when you are depressed and depleted in energy you don’t feel much like taking care of yourself. You might not feel like getting outdoors and walking, preparing healthy meals or planting a garden, yet if you could just take one or two steps daily in the direction of “self care” you would start to feel your energy returning so much quicker.
When you take the toxic, processed junk food out of your diet you will also find that you are confronting your addictions and repressed emotions will come to the surface much quicker. It is so easy to use food, alcohol, drugs, sex, romance and work as a distraction from our need to process our emotions. We stuff down those emotions because we don’t like the way that they feel. But this is an oxymoron. It is actually the process of getting in touch with those repressed emotions and allowing them to be experienced and discharged that will allow the greatest healing and sense of peace. It may be uncomfortable momentarily, but the rewards are worth the discomfort, in the long run.
The journey of healing and awakening is a long, slow process but it is a rewarding one. If you, like me, spent the first part of your life in dysfunctional, toxic relationships with yourself and others, then it is necessary to get clean. You will need to confront the issues that are keeping you repeating the same patterns over and over and get to know yourself on greater levels. The more you get to know yourself, the more you can know others and avoid being seduced into an illusion that promises much but delivers something entirely different.
As I turn my focus to writing my next book I will be sharing with you much of this journey. I have to admit that I have been masterminding this book for years now, not entirely clear what I wanted to say. This was because I didn’t want to write another book saying the same thing I’ve already said in my last two. I didn’t want this to be another book on NPD. I wanted to direct it to the healing process of those recovering from relationships with narcissists and ultimately recovering the self. I want to be able to share my latest discoveries on narcissism, in ourselves, in others and in society, without focusing just on narcissism.
It is obvious that we live in a very narcissistic, self centered society and it is also obvious that this is a world wide epidemic that needs to be healed. And that healing begins with you and me. The more we can heal ourselves the more we can heal the world, because all change begins with you.
So I invite you to join me on my journey because my journey is also your journey. We are all in this together and as one of us grows to greater and greater levels of self awareness, we extend that growth to others. As one of us shine more brightly our light will touch others. As one of us finds true love within ourselves and someone authentic to share it with, it gives hope to others.
The book referred to in this article has been written. It is called “Rebirth; Traversing the Dark Night of the Soul.”