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Self-absorbed people cannot help tooting their own horn.
Now we all have moments when we feel that the whole world centers on us. However, this blog is about
- Living and working with people who are painfully and chronically narcissistic.
- Contrasting self-centeredness with the state of being awake and aware
We were being driven to the airport in Guatemala City recently when our driver told us the following story. One of his customers asked him “Do you know who I am?” When the driver confessed ignorance as to the identity of this person he replied, “I am one of the richest people in the country and own as number of coffee plantations.”
So we asked the driver,
“Do you know who we are?”
He raised an eyebrow and with a half smile asked, “Who are you?”
We replied “Nobody?”
Joking aside it is not a small thing to manage an inclination to self-promote and define ourselves by what we do or have.
The question is how would a person awake to their true essence and relatively free of ego have behaved? Would they not have
- Been more interested in the world of the limo driver and listened to his interests?
- Curbed the ego inclination to define the self by their status in society?
A bigger question is how we manage egotists.
1. Blame yourself for the way they behave.
Some have been conditioned to believe that they cause others to behave in such a selfish manner. Your mother saying, “Keep quiet or you will give your father a headache” puts the responsibility for his headache or bad behavior on you.
2. Try to find ways to appease them and mute the truth.
Many have learned that truthfulness is dangerous. Sure we need to be politically and culturally sensitive as to how we “speak up” but holding back on the truth burns everyone in the end.
3. Try to change their behavior
To anyone with a fantasy or wish of changing “me, me, me” behavior in others I say “good luck”. You just don’t change them. You work around them and set limits so they don’t push you around or exploit you.
4. Expect that they will validate you.
Remember, everything is about them. They hire you to make them look good. It is their organization you work for. It is the myth of their family and reputation they seek to sustain. They are center stage and you need to get used to being in the wings or finding your own place in life.
If you have to work for or have a relationship with someone on an ego trip take note of the following.
1. Be fully aware of the nature of the relationship.
Don’t think you are dealing with a healthy individual. No matter how charming and charismatic they are, be aware that as soon as you stop making them the center of the world they can turn on you in a narcissistic rage (tantrum!)
2. Set boundaries with yourself and them on what you are willing to put up with.
Don’t expect them to like you saying “no” to them. But do it carefully and tactfully.
3. Find your own sources of affirmation.
Remember that when it comes to affirmation the narcissist wants it all for himself/herself. It is as if they have a big hole in their bucket and the more you give them the more they want AND they have nothing for you.
4. Be prepared to walk away.
No one can thrive in a one-way relationship. Do it for a time because it may meet your career objectives but don’t martyr yourself for self-absorbed people.
Living with Mr/Ms “Do you know who I am?” may seem a bleak prospect. But you do not have to march to the beat of their drum.
Living your own life as authentically and awake as possible is the path you seek.
What have you done to manage the egotists in your world?