Monday, April 15, 2013

Narcissism

On page 67 of Further Along the Road Less Traveled: The Unending Journey Toward Spiritual Growth, M. Scott Peck states the following:

"When psychiatrists talk about injuries to pride, we call them narcissistic injuries.  And on any scale of narcissistic injuries, death is the ultimate.  We suffer little narcissistic injuries all the time: a classmate calls us stupid, for example; we're the last to be chosen for someone's volleyball team; colleges turn us down; employers criticize us; we get fired; our children reject us.  As a result of these narcissistic injuries, either we become embittered or we grow.  But death is the big one.  Nothing threats our narcissistic attachment to ourselves and our self-conceit more than our impending obliteration.  So it is utterly natural that we should fear death."

On page 68, Peck says: "...the further we proceed in diminishing our narcissism, our self-centeredness and sense of self-importance, the more we discover ourselves becoming not only less fearful of death, but also less fearful of life.  And we become more loving.  No longer burdened by the need to protect ourselves, we are able to lift our eyes off ourselves and to truly recognize others."

As Peck notes, we all have narcissism.  I plead guilty!  I think that there are some areas of disappointment in which I can look back and learn from what I did inappropriately.  In some areas, however, I have no idea what I could have done in place of what I did.  If I made a mistake because I didn't know how to do something, was that my fault?  Moreover, I find social situations to be a pain because I don't know what to say, so I get ignored or forgotten, but when I do speak up, I end up saying something inappropriate.  So should I speak or keep silent?  Well, I just told you the problem that occurs when I stay silent!

But you learn what you can.  If I can look back and identify things that I could have done better, that is good.  And maybe what would help me is not so much for me to rehash my mistakes in the past, but rather to read about or hear about better ways to do things.  As I Thessalonians 5:21 says (in the KJV), "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."

I doubt that self-forgetfulness will happen, at least when it comes to my life.  I doubt that it can happen, for, of course, I think about myself and my tasks each day.  But I should work on ceasing to see myself as the center of the universe.  I shouldn't take myself so seriously.  Maybe I can be more interested in what is going on in other people's lives, whether we're talking about people in my family, or people online, or others with whom I come into contact.  In the words of Romans 12:15, "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."

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