Posts Tagged ‘using others’

Yesterday I posted how narcissists seek out people below them on the social ladder while simultaneously trying to mix and mingle with those above them. I was fully expecting readers to message me about suspected narcissists in their lives; but I was completely surprised that the post inspired a Facebook friend to reach out and tell me that the post was a bit of mirror to his/her own behavior.

In this friend’s own words:

“Confession: I have ‘gone slumming’ to boost my self-esteem. I have a friend from middle school who had a nasty drug problem (but traded it in for a less nasty one). I only hear from her when she needs help, and instead of ignoring her, when it “serves to build me up” I help her out. Helping this woman, who has been incarcerated, has prostituted herself, and has Hep-C makes me feel like less of a fuck-up.”

First of all, I commend this person for having the courage and the self-awareness to see him/herself in the post. While it’s easy to learn about the traits of the personality disordered and start pointing one’s finger at others, it’s much harder to take a sobering look at oneself and say, “Wait a minute… I do that.” Further, it took a lot of guts on this person’s part to share this information with me, especially knowing how critical I can be of those who show strong narcissistic traits. Thing is, this person has nothing to worry about from me.

One thing about narcissistic traits: we ALL have them. In fact, in small doses, we actually need them since these behaviors are an adaptation to help ensure our survival as both individuals and as a species. It’s only when these traits become pathological that a problem might occur, particularly if a person displays the characteristically narcissistic trait of having no empathy for others and/or using people as objects.

By his/her own admission, my friend is using” his/her friend – and the friend’s misery and poor choices – to make him/herself feel better about him/herself. Given my friend’s self awareness in this matter and implied regret, I would be remiss to label him/her a narcissist or someone with narcissistic personality disorder, per se. That said, it could be that my friend displays certain “destructive narcissistic patterns” (DNP) that he/she needs to resolve.

Based on the small amount of information I received, it would appear that my friend might possess a certain modicum of low self-esteem. This is evidenced by his/her need to “go slumming,” as they put it. His/her message to me hints that he/she might not be helping his/her friend out of the goodness of his/her own heart but rather to make him/herself feel superior by surrounding his/herself with someone with character flaws.

Though I’m NOT a therapist or life coach, I do know enough about DNP to suggest to my friend that he/she needs to seriously address why they have such low self esteem. Chances are, there’s something deeply embedded in their subconscious that continues to plague him/her, causing this person to seek validation from others.

Happiness and self-esteem has to be organic… it must come from inside ourselves in order for it to be genuine and life-affirming. Seeking outside validation is one of the most fruitless and frustrating of life’s pursuits because few people can read our minds enough to be able to give it to us, while those who know we need it refuse to give it for a myriad of reasons.

I hope this helps both my friend and anyone else who might have read yesterday’s post and saw themselves – even if ever so briefly – reflected within the words.