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A New View of the World

I will never forget the pivotal moment in therapy where my old worldview crumbled under the weight of a new perspective. These breakthroughs are the moments I live for. As a Gemini Moon and Sagittarius Sun, I am always seeking a new vista, information that changes everything, murky and briar-laden trails to a new truth.

When my therapist Athena explained to me that self assuredness, self possession, confidence, skillfulness and tenacity were signs of healthy ego maturation, and not signs of narcisism and arrogance, I didn’t believe her.

I was so sure that being demure, submissive, practicing (pathological) humility, deferring to the needs and preferences of others, helping beyond my capacity as a way to prove my loyalty, and doing anything necesarry to be liked were the antidote to narcissism and my way to being a “good” person.

When she told me that these were actually characteristics of narcissim, it was like the floor fell out from under me. Overt narcissistic behaviors employ these characteristics in the love bombing phase. Covert narcissistic behaviors hinge almost entirely on pathological humility and victimhood with a tinge of entitlement. Both are using behavior inauthentically as a way to manipulate the behavior of others.

The root of the people pleaser and martyr is a narcissistic wound of not being able to trust anyone to meet our own needs, and so we manipulate them through our helpfulness and submissiveness.

Standing in our truth, dissappointing people, saying no, disagreeing, embracing conflict were all things that I conflated with arrogance and entitlement. But the truth was, that these were all skills that healthy, mature, adults use to exert their authentic self in the world, and thereby impact the world. The mature adults who disagree, embrace conflict, assert themselves, are also open to hearing the assertive, conflict-embracing truths of others. Without explosive defensiveness! Without posturing aggressively! Without threatening to hurt anyone or punish anyone! Without stonewalling or the cold shoulder or the silent treatment or blackmail. Without collapse into a spiral of self loathing.

This breakthrough shook me to my core. Everything I believed about how I was supposed to interact with others was called into question. All of the behaviors that made people like me, trust me, want to be around me, were ways that I was hiding my real needs, opinions, perspectives, desires in order to barter for safety and social currency.

The system that conditioned me to believe this foundational lie is the same system that is being challenged today by the empowerment of women, the elevation of people of the global majority into positions of power and leaderhsip, the call for an end to state sanctioned violence. We are breaking our bonds with our abuser, the narcissistic structure that underpins society. The cruel, punishing, dominating, manipulative mindset that is the bedrock of empire and expansioninsm and the erasure of diversity.

I was trained to be submissive, to defer to people with more power, to use subtle tactics to get my needs met, as a system of survival within an inherently narcissistic system. I was trained to survive, to stay small, to remain childlike and to pose no threat to anyone.

The resulting belief that I could control others through this behavior was my internalized narcisstic wound.

The courage it takes to actually grow up and mature into a sovereign adult within this system of conditioning is staggering. And so worth it. And it is what will change everything.

Mature adults leading families and businesses and communities will lead to a mature civilization of independent and cooperative people who can tolerate conflict, discord, and dissappointment without tantrums and violence.

And it starts with each of us doing our part.

If you recognize yourself in these learned behaviors, there is help for us! We don’t have to feel shame. We didn’t choose this conditioning, it was thrust upon us as indoctrination. BUT we can get really pissed off about it, and stop participating.

We can change. We can impact the world around us with our truth, our honesty, or bravery. And together, we can become resilient and actually face the problems that challenge us at every angle. If we remain entitled, passive aggressive, victimized children, trying to convince the authority figures to finally care for us, we will never make the necessary changes.

I have been far less popular since I have started embracing what is true for me, asking for what I need, calling out subtext, challenging old patterns of behavior, and actively dissappointing people. But I am finally getting to know myself. What I really stand for. What I’m good at. Who I want to be. And that is worth far more than popularity with people who don’t really know me at all.


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