For a few years now I’ve swayed back and forth about my opinion of whether it’s helpful to call myself and friends “Empaths” and people who are selfish and hurtful “Narcissists”. There is a lot of misconception out there (like what is an Introvert really?) and I do still think we should be careful before medically diagnosing someone (which is what you kind of are doing when you call someone a Narcissist).
So what are Empaths and Narcissists, how can you protect yourself if you are an Empath, and how can you look at these “fad” terms from an empowering perspective?
I Don’t Want To Be Called Crazy By Others, So I’m Not Doing It
Has this happened to you with an ex? It sure has happened to me! It’s like a default with men. You get emotional (sometimes from hormones, sometimes because he’s being an asshole) and all of a sudden you’re “crazy”. No sugar. I’m not. I’m upset.
A Narcissist is a couple of things. There is the Personality Trait of Narcissim which we all have (sorry – it’s true) because it’s a scale not black and white “you have it or you don’t”. It’s like psychopathy. We are all a bit of a psycho too (I’m funny aren’t I?).
Calm down. Read the definition of psychopathy as a personality trait here.
OFF TRACK! Okay.
So the other kind of Narcissist is the actual Personality Disorder. These are the real deal, clearly defined…. interesting people. They make up about 1% of the population. I’ve actually met one (it takes years before you really know they are the real deal though) and odds are they aren’t going to get diagnosed or get help. Apparently they don’t need it. Ask them!
Psychology Today defines A Narcissistic Personality Disorder as:
…grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also concentrate on grandiose fantasies (e.g. their own success, beauty, brilliance) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment.
I’d like to add in there though that usually those who are at least on the higher end of the scale of Narcissism in their personality generally have a very flimsy foundation of self. That “wounded soul” surrounded by that tough, sexy, confident exterior! This is why so many women end up swooning! Who hasn’t heard of 50 Shades of Grey and heaps of other romantic stories where the male has that wounded side and the female comes in and “saves” him and he falls madly in love with only her! No wonder so many women today end up with Narcissists!
Okay now are you starting to see some of the problem here?
What I Have Noticed Is Important
Is having identity and self-awareness. That’s what’s changed my perspective on this. I guess I’m an Empath, as are most of my friends. Having that awareness of your gifts and shortcomings will help you navigate the murky waters of relationships and career.
So what is an Empath? Introvert Spring says:
Empaths are highly sensitive individuals who deeply feel the emotions of those around them. Both introverts and empaths are likely to feel overwhelmed by crowds and loud noises. They are also prone to feeling drained and completely exhausted to the point of fatigue. For introverts, feeling drained is usually due to over stimulation. For empaths, it is related to the stress of constantly feeling other people’s emotions.
And this goes deeper into having a spiritual ability to feel others more naturally than people without this “gift”.
One of the dangers of being highly empathetic is that you can feel the pain of the Narcissist – which is why so many people with high empathy end up with people who have high narcissism – we feel their pain.
The Dangers Of The Articles I Read
You need to be very careful not to dwell in the “victim area”. I’ve been there so I defs know and I’m not judging at all! It can be all name calling “You’re a Narcissist” and falling into the trap of the big mean world being out to get you.
NO! Just because you are empathetic does not make you weak and easy prey! Just because Narcissism as a trait is on the rise does not mean you are going to fall prey!
Click your shiny heels, put your chin up and strut your stuff! Empathy is lacking in the world today and if you have it then you’re ahead in the EQ! We need more people like you!
Okay I know, you do need to be careful when you get into friendships/relationships. But something super important that Brene Brown said in The Power Of Vulnerability is a lot of people go onto social media and post all sorts of pictures because they have a low self esteem. There are lots of reasons behind it – not just narcissism.
Don’t ever make assumptions, especially about people you don’t know.
One of the biggest problems I see today is people are really just concerned about themselves and nothing past it. If it doesn’t affect us then we don’t notice (maybe it’s because we are so busy too). Yes it’s selfish, but it’s not narcissism and I think that a lot of people use this term too frequently.
Diagnosing Someone Makes It Not Their Fault
He’s a selfish asshole. It sounds so much better don’t you think? “He will always be that way, he’s a narcissist” is subtly taking the blame away from people for their actions.
Hell be damned, they can change! They don’t have to behave that way. For goodness sake we are grown adults! Okay so s*** happened when we were kids, but this is the difference between having a Fixed Mindset Vs A Growth Mindset. You aren’t your anger, you aren’t your fear, you aren’t your personality even (though that is a part of who you are). You are a conscious being with choices and a brain.
Again – Empathy is a skill and can be learned. So that’s 99% of people who aren’t Narcissistic Personality Disorders… and if you meet a real deal Narcissist – back away slowly. 7 Billion people in the world, do what you can to keep the good ones around you.
Sometimes we over think and over analyse things to ridiculousness.
Here is a video I made (at work lol) with a few tips about what you can do to protect yourself.
Wooo! Getting All Worked Up Now!
So you can tell this is a heated issue for me. It’s taken a lot of bravery for me to post all of this. And don’t think I don’t get where you are and what you feel. I have been there, been hurt terribly, been exploited, been a genuine victim – and I have disassociated myself with those events as part of “who I am”.
You are not the bad things that happened to you. You have lived, loved and learned – You are Freaken Fantastic because of it!
I use to have a victim mentality and I use to be bitter. No you wouldn’t believe it now, but I made the choice many years ago to take back my life and be better.
So much as turbo-charged since owning this website and blogging has let me really tap into things I am passionate about and be creative in a way that has made me feel more alive and helpful to others than ever before. As an introvert and empathetic person, this has been absolutely life changing…. maybe it will help you too?
Take Care of You Always,