I wondered for a long time why so many seemingly normal and highly functional people constantly find themselves at the source of all of the bad things that happen in their world yet take responsibility for few of their own actions. It was disturbing until Des told me that believing you’re are a piece of unlovable crap is a sure fire way to ensure that you seek out the social situations to validate your lack of value. Initially it struck me as odd until I saw Donald Trump talking on TV and it hit me that there is a man who doesn’t really care what anyone thinks of him. He’s not narcissistic, he’s confidence because he knows he has a lot of value and this prevents him from needing other people’s approval. He’ll settle for their money and he’s just right for that.
If you are able to consider the inverse – that you are unlovable – you’ll see how seeking out this type of validation is a much bigger a social motivator than KNOWING you are the best. People who know what they bring to the table do not seek out proof of this from others because knowing it is all that is needed. I had an old girlfriend who would talk about things she knew nothing about but when it came time to debate about the things she knew, there was no debate. No need, I didn’t know what I was talking about. She’d correct me and then move on if I continued to disagree. What’s funny is that she would debate endlessly when she was full of crap.
This is one of my favorite topics as I age because I am uncovering more and more people who don’t understand that their motivation to see themselves as the center of the world and the cause of everything is a symptom of a sense of unlove-ability and that it is paying service to something that happened when they were growing-up. More often that not, their narcissism is a result of an incomplete developmental stage and an inaccurate pairing of cause and effect – for example, very attractive people tend to become narcissistic as they age because they were never recognized for their efforts (the things they can control) and tend to receive favor simply for being good looking. Their pathological behavioral patterns will tend to pop out any time they begin to feel overwhelmed by someone they view as better than them (a meaningless distinction) or anytime they feel the withdrawal of approval. They will often say the oddest things that you cannot reconcile in your head because they are not based on fact. To them though, they are based on fact; they are based on the interpretation of the evidence which just happens to see them as unlovable.
We tolerate this from children, movie stars and anyone we want something from because we can’t actually care that much about people who view themselves as unlovable because they tend to act in unlovable ways and alienate those who bring them kindness – they are dishonest, they create drama where it didn’t need to be, they involve others in their and other peoples business, they denigrate others in an attempt to make themselves feel or look better, they tell you who you can and cannot be friends with and they will throw you under the bus as soon as they realize that you are not treating them as unlovable as they act. Narcissism is obvious once you’ve seen it and the people it afflicts are toxic to those unfortunate to have to continue to engage them.
The prognosis is poor for these types of people because they are incapable of seeing their actions has shaping their world – I’ve yet to meet one who later said “I was creating all of my bad luck because I was acting unlovable.” Sadly for them and the people they impact, you tend to hear “look what you made me do” or “that isn’t fair” when you treat them the same way they treat you.
Chances are they are too heavily invested in keeping their delusion going to actually look at the root cause of their actions.