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Conflicts in understanding myself as a narcissist

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Conflicts in understanding myself as a narcissist

Postby HMJ » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:03 pm

I just found this forum after doing some light reading on the topic and thought I'd chime in on discussion. I'm sure every new user here has done this 'opening question' type thing.

I've been trying to understand myself as a 'narcissist' but keep running into hurdles of logic.

For instance, while I do have definite feeling of grandiosity - I know empirically that they are irrational. I know that other people have their own priorities and what I want may not fit with them. Yes, this falls under "the narcissist believes everyone is like him" diagnosis but it's not that simple. I know people aren't like me. I know have delusions and carry myself in a very machine-like manner but I feel that's just MORE efficient when trying to make a living. Why would I change a behavior that would only make life harder for me? Have I been accused of being emotionless in that regard? Absolutely. Yes, I know that is terrible. I am aware of that. I internalize the consequences of my actions. However, I cannot distinguish these traits as being bad.

I will say even when I was a little kid...this was how I interpreted strife. It's very cinematic....and I think it's directly because of watching movies as a little kid (something that cannot be understated when analyzing people's psychological issues in my opinion)....

There would be a person on a 'throne' at the top of a stairwell. This was my mind. Then there was my 'body' at the bottom of the stairwell. I literally have always envisioned this. When I did something wrong, my mind would chastise my body. It was like a king correcting one of his servants. Or something. I know this fits in with False Self/True Self...but that's how I have visualized it in my head for as long as I remember.

Whatever...I am rambling. What I mean to say is....I am aware that being a selfish, attention craving person is self-damaging and annoying to people around me....so I purposely try to keep it reigned in. I understand all my faults and try to find their sources and correct them. Not because of efficiency per se, but because I know they impede me in making life more enjoyable.

There ya go.
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Re: Conflicts in understanding myself as a narcissist

Postby narcovery » Fri Jul 02, 2010 3:28 pm

I've been trying to understand myself as a 'narcissist' but keep running into hurdles of logic.

When it comes to beliefs, logic will only take you so far. You are trying to use your intellect to solve something that isn't about logic or rationality.

On a few occasions, I've been able to drop my "false self'' by working on my beliefs. At the time I didn't even realize that I had lived my life in a "false" and unaware mode -- I just thought I was finally coming out of a 5-6 year long depression. Everything felt different! I could feel real emotions, I had a self-awareness that I've never had before, I had a longing for intimacy, I had a stable sense of identity.. I *understood* the world in a completely different way. It didn't last for long, and I've only been able to enter that state in short moments since then.. but what I felt was amazing compared to the emptiness of my current state.

I know have delusions and carry myself in a very machine-like manner but I feel that's just MORE efficient when trying to make a living.

What surprised me about being in the "true self" mode was that I suddenly didn't have the same need for success. Actually, I wouldn't describe it as I'm consciouly striving for success right now.. right now it's more like a baseline assumption that I'm hardly aware of.. and when I entered the "true self" mode I suddenly noticed the lack of feeling the need to succeed.

I stumbled upon my "true self" mode by accident. I've always been struggling with procrastination and feeling the need to do things (this is what most outsiders call "entitlement"). Since the age of 17 or 18, I've been aware that something was wrong.. but I couldn't identity exactly what is was. Anyway..

Start by viewing your grandiosity, uniqueness and delusions as something you do TO GET AWAY from something. The grandiosity isn't a problem, it's something you do TO GET AWAY from feeling a certain way or being reminded of something. You are not consciously aware of what you're avoiding.

What you want to do is to ask yourself some questions.. but in order for this to work, you need to ask these questions in a certain way. When you ask yourself these questions, don't try answer the question with an intellectual or rational answer (although you'll probably do that at first -- that's what most people do.). Ask yourself the question.. with genuine curiosity.. and let the answer come to you from your "subconscious" or your "emotional brain" (or whatever you prefer to call the non-conscious parts of you).

So ask yourself..

* What would happen if I didn't get X? (where X represents something you want to succeed in or achieve)
* What would be bad about.. [not being a success / not being perfect / being 'normal')?
* What would that mean?
* What would that say about yourself as a person?

Again, *wait* for the answer to come to you.

Don't try to use reason or rationality.

You aren't looking for an abstract or logical reason -- you want to know what your 'emotional brain' associates with failure, with not succeeding, with being normal or regular. Do any memories come up when you ask yourself what it would mean to fail at achieving X? Memories of you being laughed at, memories of you being humiliated or feeling ashamed? Do you hear any voices? Try to observe closely what you brain comes up with when you ask yourself these questions.

The answer you are looking for is something short, emotional and 'global' (in the sense that it says something about how you are as a person). If you end up answering one of the questions above with something like.. ["That would mean that.."] "I'm a failure", "I'm a ######6 deadbeat", "I'm a loser" or "I'm a ###$" you are on your right way. Discard any answers that are longer than a few words.

The answer from your "emotional brain" will be associated with an emotion that you should be able to feel somewhere in your body. Now, what makes this hard is that if you are like me, you are probably not feeling that much. Your real emotions are covered under a thick sheet of emptiness.. they are hidden. So on some days, when you feel especially grandiose, this process won't work (and you'll probably see no need to even go through it).. but then there are those days when you actually feel a slight anxiousness.. nervousness.. or perhaps a bit depressive. That's when you want to do this.

Try to identify the emotion involved.. and when you've got it isolated -- in my case I usually feel a tightness in my stomach when I "should" be doing certain things -- go through this process:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTq-n5VNuO0

The video describes a process to 'dissolve' emotions associated with certain beliefs, thoughts and memories. The same process is described in numerous self-help books, always in slightly different ways. (I followed a set of slightly different instructions. The basic principle is simple: identify the emotion and let your awareness focus in on it.. and stay with it.. until the emotion dissappears) There are a ton of self-help courses based upon that simple technique. (Sedona comes to mind as one of them.)
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Re: Conflicts in understanding myself as a narcissist

Postby HMJ » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:02 pm

I still don't understand. Judging from your response, 'failure' and 'not success' are attributes of NORMAL people? Huh? So striving for something better for yourself indicates a personality disorder? Ok, I'm lost.

It's not about insane affluence, it's simply about freedom to do as I please and in order to achieve that you have to prove yourself. There is no intrinsic value in the universe aside from what he ascribe value to. In this world, I have to do A, B and C in order to free from worrying about everything else. If existence is just some waiting room, then you might as well stock yours with the best magazines.

I just wonder if my attention to other people's needs in comparison to my own cancels out my inflated ego. I believe you should do whatever you want as long as you're not hurting anyone. Is that narcissistic?
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Re: Conflicts in understanding myself as a narcissist

Postby narcovery » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:50 pm

So striving for something better for yourself indicates a personality disorder?

There's a huge difference between 'striving for success' and 'avoiding feeling like failure'. To an outside observer the behavior of a person who is striving to succeed might look identical to the behavior of someone who is desperately trying to avoid looking like a failure. And if you ask them, both persons will tell you that they are trying to succeed.

I'm arguing that the "false self" of a narcissistic individual is there to protect you from feeling strong negative emotions that you, at a certain level, associate with yourself. Feelings that you can't allow yourself to feel.. that you can't allow yourself to think about.

I don't believe you'll get very far if you are intellectually trying to 'figure out' or 'analyze' the components that make up the false self (the grandiosity, the delusions, the uniqueness, the selfishness). Instead, I believe you should attempt to find out what is it that you are fleeing from. The 'purpose' of the false self is to protect you precisely from the things you are trying to avoid to think about, so right now you might be thinking: "But I'm not really trying to avoid anything?". It's my belief (and I might very well be wrong) that you're fleeing from certain emotional memories.

It just doesn't feel that way.

The way you find out what you're trying to avoid or flee from is by asking yourself questions. You do this in a relaxed and genuinely curious way: imagine (close your eyes if it helps) that you fail at 'proving yourself'. What would be bad about that? what happens if you don't succeed at doing A? What happens if you don't succeed at doing B? What would that say about you as a person? Would it mean that you are poor & miserable failure? A worthless loser? A sheep like the rest of the population? What would it mean?

(Again, you have to ask yourself these questions and wait for the answer to come up. Otherwise you are just intellectually manipulating data. We are after the emotional associations and memories that turn up if you allow them to 'surface'.. on most days, I struggle with this. Or it's not like I even struggle, I don't even attempt to do it even though it's one of the few things that has 'worked' for me.)
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Re: Conflicts in understanding myself as a narcissist

Postby wooster » Fri Jul 02, 2010 6:04 pm

http://wondermark.com/451/



You've still got a long way to go.
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Re: Conflicts in understanding myself as a narcissist

Postby HMJ » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:00 pm

narcovery wrote:
So striving for something better for yourself indicates a personality disorder?

There's a huge difference between 'striving for success' and 'avoiding feeling like failure'. To an outside observer the behavior of a person who is striving to succeed might look identical to the behavior of someone who is desperately trying to avoid looking like a failure. And if you ask them, both persons will tell you that they are trying to succeed.

I'm arguing that the "false self" of a narcissistic individual is there to protect you from feeling strong negative emotions that you, at a certain level, associate with yourself. Feelings that you can't allow yourself to feel.. that you can't allow yourself to think about.

I don't believe you'll get very far if you are intellectually trying to 'figure out' or 'analyze' the components that make up the false self (the grandiosity, the delusions, the uniqueness, the selfishness). Instead, I believe you should attempt to find out what is it that you are fleeing from. The 'purpose' of the false self is to protect you precisely from the things you are trying to avoid to think about, so right now you might be thinking: "But I'm not really trying to avoid anything?". It's my belief (and I might very well be wrong) that you're fleeing from certain emotional memories.

It just doesn't feel that way.

The way you find out what you're trying to avoid or flee from is by asking yourself questions. You do this in a relaxed and genuinely curious way: imagine (close your eyes if it helps) that you fail at 'proving yourself'. What would be bad about that? what happens if you don't succeed at doing A? What happens if you don't succeed at doing B? What would that say about you as a person? Would it mean that you are poor & miserable failure? A worthless loser? A sheep like the rest of the population? What would it mean?

(Again, you have to ask yourself these questions and wait for the answer to come up. Otherwise you are just intellectually manipulating data. We are after the emotional associations and memories that turn up if you allow them to 'surface'.. on most days, I struggle with this. Or it's not like I even struggle, I don't even attempt to do it even though it's one of the few things that has 'worked' for me.)


But it's not like that. I don't really flee from or repress any of my memories. In fact, when I think/talk about it - I come to realize that experiences that I may have thought were unique to my psychological (and social) development were no different than a lot of my peer's same experiences. With that in mind, how the hell am I supposed to justify my behavior?

Ok, I am running away from something. Old age and death. I'm not proving anything. It would be nice to achieve something that would validate my life's efforts...but that's too idealistic as well.
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Re: Conflicts in understanding myself as a narcissist

Postby narcovery » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:51 pm

But it's not like that.

Of course it isn't. It doesn't feel like you are fleeing from anything. It doesn't feel like you are repressing any emotions or any memories. That's the point. When you're in false self mode, it doesn't feel like anything is wrong. Everything is as it always has been. Sure, you might intellectually conclude that you are different from Normal People in some ways.. but you don't feel any need to change. Why would you?

That's the state I'm in right now, so I agree with you -- "it's not like that".

Except it is. It's just that you are unable to see it. The 'false self' is structured in a way that keeps you from seeing it. That's what makes it so hard. I happened to slip into my "true self" by accident... and until I did that, I wasn't aware of anything being wrong. I didn't notice when I re-entered the 'false self'.. it happened so naturally. It took me nine months to connect the dots, to realize that what I thought of as my "finally free from my depression" moment was in fact the first time in my life where I had dropped my false self and experienced who I really am behind the mask. And no, most of the time it doesn't feel like you are wearing a mask.

In fact, when I think/talk about it - I come to realize that experiences that I may have thought were unique to my psychological (and social) development were no different than a lot of my peer's same experiences.

I don't look at my childhood right now and think it was bad. But when I'm in true self mode, I have a completely different view of my childhood and who I am as a person. The facts stay the same, but my interpretation of some events are completely different. When you're in 'true self' mode, you experience the whole world in a *completely* different way. It's a different mode of operating, a qualitatively different state.

What disturbs me slightly is that even though I've experienced 'Normal Reality'.. and even though I've experienced what it really feels like to be alive.. I can't say that I feel a strong need to change. Not right now. I can't make a commitment to change -- there's really no real person who can make that commitment right now.

Ok, I am running away from something. Old age and death. I'm not proving anything. It would be nice to achieve something that would validate my life's efforts...but that's too idealistic as well.

Right. That's the abstract and intellectual stuff. So you never really asked yourself the questions. You just typed up something that sounded somewhat reasonable. It's okay. I'm not sure I'm trying to convince you.. it's more like I'm writing this to convince myself. Intellectually, I know.. or think I know.. sort of what I need to do to be able to change. But I'm not doing it. There's no drive to change. I'm pretty comfortable living in this emptiness.. it is after all pretty familiar. And I don't feel bad -- I hardly feel anything at all. But it does kind of suck, because I know my life is passing me by.. while I'm standing still in time.
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Re: Conflicts in understanding myself as a narcissist

Postby searchfortruth » Fri Jul 02, 2010 9:02 pm

narcovery -

Beautiful stuff. One of the best self-realization posts I have read on this forum. I am on the same path as you, though I am a psychopath and have slightly different issues.

Do keep contributing here. Would love to read.

Cheers.
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Re: Conflicts in understanding myself as a narcissist

Postby narcovery » Sun Jul 04, 2010 8:23 pm

searchfortruth wrote:Do keep contributing here. Would love to read.

I'll try to drop in when I've got something useful to share. There doesn't seem to be that much information available for those who want to recover from NPD, so if I stumble upon something that is useful I'll definitely try to share it here.
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Re: Conflicts in understanding myself as a narcissist

Postby Daniel Birdick » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:57 pm

I agree with searchfortruth. Insightful posts there Narcovery. Although I do wonder if you aren’t accepting that emptiness is your default state because that is the way your brain functions and not because you are hiding from unwanted emotions.
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