"Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly." -Albert Einstein

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Survival Mode and an Alternate View of Narcissism By Darlene Ouimet

I stumbled upon an amazing blog today, and thought this was some great info related to a previous post here...
narcissistic abusers
by the light of the truth they will hang themselves
“Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence or strong self-esteem, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal. In contrast, people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don’t value themselves more than they value others”. ~ The Mayo Clinic
I would like to add that people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don’t value themselves LESS than they value others either.
I was not drawn to this quote because it helped me to understand narcissism or narcissistic behaviour but because it reminded me of how much I was willing to see myself as ‘the problem’ when I first began the healing process that I write about here in ‘emerging from broken’.  So many ‘victims’ of dysfunctional family systems or any type of abusive or one sided relationship see themselves as the one who might be the narcissist.  Narcissistic people groom their victims to always look at themselves and make every effort to avoid letting anyone look more closely at them.  They make sure the flashlight of self-examination is always firmly on the victim both from the view of the narcissist, AND from the view of the victim.
And because of this abuse tactic and grooming style, very often it is narcissists who accuse other people of ‘being’ narcissistic. As always there is a way to sort out the truth from the false in this. As you read, keep in mind that narcissistic people or abusers rarely ask themselves if they are the problem.  There are several key differences between victims and abusers. (I am aware that some are both victims AND abusers; victims to the people who are in control of them and abusers to the people that they control but that is a topic for another day.)
It is easy to groom children to regard the adult with reverence. And if that child grows up in the belief system that the child is always the one at fault, it is easy for any other adult to step in and continue inflicting this insistence upon ‘reverence’ on this now grown up child.  Children don’t just reach a certain age and suddenly the blinders fall off. If no one ever empowers the child to realize that their worth is equal to all others, the child (adult child) will never come to realize it. If the false belief remains operating as ‘truth’, then the adult child will continue to believe dysfunctional relationships are ‘normal’.  
This quote highlights the concept of understanding ‘equal value’.  
My survival mode was all about examining my motives and checking to see where I had been at fault, what I could have done better and why the whole problem must have somehow been caused by me. I was willing to believe that I was self-centered when someone called me self-centered and then I was willing to try harder to change that ‘problem’ about myself. I was willing to accept that I was being selfish when I was accused of being selfish and make the necessary adjustment because that is the way I learned to ‘survive’ when I was a kid and I never learned any other way to be.  When I was accused of being ‘narcissistic’ I examined that too. I had come to see ‘everyone’ as having MORE value than I did.  And if ‘they’ were more valuable then they must be right.
I made survival decisions in a world where I believe that the only way that I could ever be safe was to adjust myself to the demands of the adults who were responsible for my food, shelter and clothing. As I got older that belief didn’t change when people who I saw as being more important than me or as having more power than me demanded the same type of compliance from me. When I became an adult I saw and reacted to the world through the same ‘it must be me’ grid that I saw it through in my childhood survival mode and I made survival decisions based on the same understanding that I always had. There was no truth OR equal value when it came to me, in this (false) understanding of how relationship works. 
Finally understanding what equal value is, was the most freeing and important concept that I learned in the process of emotional healing.  I was never treated or regarded with equal value and therefore I had never considered that I actually had it or even that it was an option ‘for me’.  I had to change this false belief. I found out how to repair my self-esteem and take my value back by finding out where and how it got broken and falsely defined as ‘less than,’ in the first place.  I had to see the truth about who the abuser actually was and what false messages that I had been given and that I accepted as the truth.
Looking at how I had come to ‘learn’ to always look at adjusting myself and my behaviour and the way that I related to others and seeing how much of it was about my childhood survival mode helped me to see the truth about equal value and that although I had never been treated as though I had it, that didn’t mean that I didn’t have it.
Everybody has equal value. We are all born with equal value. It is what happens after that that will determine the way we view ourselves.
 “Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence or strong self-esteem, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal. In contrast, people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don’t value themselves more than they value others”. ~ The Mayo Clinic
I would like to add that people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don’t value themselves LESS than they value others either.
The purpose of this website, ‘Emerging from Broken’ is to restore self-esteem and the knowledge of ‘equal value’ by understanding where it went missing, was not communicated or was never set in place in the beginning.
Please share your thoughts about how you put your difficulties through the grid of self-blame, how narcissistic or people in a higher power position than you were made you think it was always ‘you’  or anything else this article caused you to realize or react to. Please feel free to use any name you wish in the comment form. (The URL line is optional and is meant for people who wish to share their own website.)
There is freedom on the other side of broken;
Darlene Ouimet