IS it supplying unwavering "support" even when they do harm to Themselves or You?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve questioned the meaning of friendship~ which I believe far surpasses romantic love. Even that old saying, “lovers come and go, but friends are forever” implies that a true friend is precious, irreplaceable, and one of life’s essential elements, if we hope to attain contentment and joy. It is entirely possible however, to outgrow our friends or for them to outgrow us~ so perhaps a caveat to this assertion, is worthy of exploring.
In my view, being a good and solid friend involves responsibility and risk. It means being willing to dedicate oneself to another’s spiritual, emotional and physical well-being. It means having the exceptional courage it takes to say “ouch!” when they’ve unwittingly hurt us, and hold up a mirror to reflect behaviors that may prove injurious to themselves or others.
[In my mind, a true friend doesn’t blithely stand by and watch me self-destruct, if there’s anything they can say or do to prevent it.]
Speaking up on behalf of a friend of course, is easier said than done~ particularly if he or she has a long-established pattern of thinking they know far more than others, and relishes asserting this feature whenever opportunity to exercise it arises. Narcissism sneaks out of us in whatever ways it can~ even if it resides under a self-proclaimed banner of “being helpful.”
We tend to notice this aspect most, in people who make mountains out of molehills and/or sweat the small stuff, talk endlessly about issues that don’t actually matter (which is verbal exhibitionism), appear to have a compulsive need to prove you “wrong” for statements you’ve made or views you hold, and routinely wanna challenge your wisdom, your authority on a particular topic, or your world view.
I wouldn’t say I’m supremely narcissistic, but I recognize a healthier dose of it in myself, than in most others. Do I hate myself for this personality feature or attempt to rid myself of it? No, for I clearly see its benefits. Do I try to rigorously monitor my narcissism, so it’s not as likely to invalidate, steam-roller or cause others harm? Absolutely!
I’ve long-accepted how My Narcissism helped me survive my absurdly unstable childhood, has enabled me to embrace my ‘center stage’ personality aspects to positively impact the lives of millions, and confidently help others radically turn their life around, in all realms of their existence. The truth is, we are all narcissistic, or we’d fail to survive and get our needs met, while inhabiting these physical bodies!
[I am deeply humbled as well, to receive a letter or call from someone expressing immense gratitude to me for my help or body of work, and how they’ve benefitted as a result.]
Those unaware of their narcissism may be inclined to convert their dialogues with others into monologues, particularly when they feel hyper-stimulated within a verbal exchange. A dialogue is two people sharing ideas, feelings, updates on their life, etc. A monologue is one person talking, while barely allowing the other to get a word in edgewise.
This kind of event can dangerously deter open exchange. It’s typically prompted by one’s need to feel self-important. Whenever another feels a need to shout to be heard and get their message across, it undermines their trust and willingness to continue engaging in verbal intercourse. Sadly, someone’s ‘verbal exhibitionism’ can make this a common occurrence.
I doubt any of us wanna be made aware that other people perceive us as “loving to talk.” What does this say about us? Does it mean we tend to overwhelm them with verbiage to where they feel a need to break-off contact and seriously limit future exchanges with us? Do our feelings get hurt when they make themselves scarce? Do we ever question if this scarcity of contact has anything to do with behaviors we’re not even aware of ??
So, what can we do, when we believe a good and close friend can benefit from us alluding to behaviors that make us wanna distance from them? It’s surely scary to contemplate, for it may mean we risk catalyzing a shame attack. We probably all have friends who still lug around self-esteem issues: “Am I okay as I am? Am I really lovable or good enough?” Unhealed core trauma from childhood, is active in at least 80% of the world’s population. It gives birth to Narcissism and Borderline Personality Disorder traits.
I guess if we really care about someone’s well-being and personal evolution, we have to be willing to speak our truth, and let the chips fall where they may. Might this signal the end of our treasured friendship? Very likely it can, unless the other has enough ego strength to peer into their own mirror, and see the cracks therein.
What’s important is, we are not demanding that our friend changes, nor are we expecting them to! We are merely offering feedback that may help them orchestrate more productive outcomes within their personal and professional domains. Expecting them to change for US, is narcissistic. Hoping they’ll be willing to grow a bit more self-aware and desire change for themselves, is all we can do.
It’s seldom necessary to throw the baby out with the bathwater, with respect to these issues. If we can still love and care for a friend, yet acknowledge the uncomfortable limitations we’re forced to accommodate in the relationship, we’re well on our way to taking better care of ourselves, while keeping tabs on our own Narcissism.
My dad once said, “make sure you clean up the mess in your own backyard, before ya start on someone else’s.” Living by this has at times been difficult, but I keep working on it, hoping to move just a tad closer to becoming my most aware and enlightened Best Self, with each passing year.