I’ve been around for a while and if there’s one thing that has become abundantly clear to me it’s that people are self-absorbed and many of them portray narcissistic behavior. I know “narcissistic” is a strong word, but Merriam-Webster actually has a strong definition for this strong word – extremely self-centered with an exaggerated sense of self-importance. I love that definition because it ties narcissism to self-absorption in a clear and powerful way.
I know this is cliche, but people literally think the world is here, people are here, animals are here, [whatever] is here to serve them, to literally ensure that their comfort and their happiness is top priority, and if things don’t go their way then they go on the prowl. How do I know this? Because I see it everyday and even more so, I feel it! These people seek out victims. I’ve been a victim of this preposterous behavior more than I care to express, on numerous occasions. Self-absorption offers an arduous challenge for someone who is naturally and deliberately empathetic.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re not that important in the big scheme of things and neither am I. I wish things were different, but they’re not. Sorry, I didn’t make the rules. When self-absorbed people feel this reality, it makes them feel very helpless. I’m not going to go “all biblical” on you here, but that’s where my mind is.
Self-absorption offers an arduous challenge for someone who is naturally and deliberately empathetic.
On the flip side, these same people will treat you like a dog and not blink an eye. As I’ve written about previously, I know we all have different pasts and experiences that shape us, but you’ll have an impossible mission selling that to me as an excuse. I simply do not accept it. When I hear people use their past as an excuse, I feel for them, I honestly do. I can’t not feel for them, but I too have had terrible, honestly unspeakable, things happen to me, things that are completely out of my control. I’ve been attacked throughout my life in a plethora of ways, yet I refuse to allow these things to control me to the point where I treat people like dogs.
People have even said to me, “Matt, you’re at a huge advantage because you’re naturally a nice person. Not everyone processes like you.” The truth is I have to work extremely hard at being empathetic to people. It doesn’t come for free. Let me repeat. It doesn’t come for free! I have skin ripping, head crushing battles with myself over this matter. It is taxing, but we cannot give in to the temptation of making everything about us. It’s not about us. It’s about them, about “others”.
Take a long look in the mirror today. You are awesome! You are an incredible being, but so are billions of other people. You should stop looking at yourself and your greatness so much and start realizing that we’re all in this together and other people are great too and have so much to offer and some of them need you to not make it all about you for a change. Guess what else, you can learn things from other people. There’s nothing more valuable than gaining an additional vantage point (i.e. perspective). Perhaps if people tried this simple exercise, they wouldn’t be so miserable and might actually contribute to society instead of tainting it with self-absorption and narcissism.
Other people are great too and have so much to offer and some of them need you to not make it all about you for a change.
Can you say to someone, “You’re not the victim”? No. I do not believe anyone can say this because they simply do not know. The narcissist says, “I’m the victim!”, because they do not see beyond the outer wall of their bubble. So, how can you become a person who is not self-absorbed? It’s simple. Do something unselfish for someone. Do something that gains you absolutely nothing. In fact, maybe even do something that puts you in a bit of discomfort and isn’t convenient (for you). Travel a long distance or cancel a meeting. Skip a meal. Start by doing this once a month. Then, work up to once a week, and so on. You literally have nothing to lose.
Liberation awaits you with open arms. It calls to you, “Let Go! Let go of you! Look at them! Come to me! Be free!” Do you want to be free, free of yourself? Think of the all the pressures you would release. Think of the lives you could change. I don’t mean to end this like a sermon, but take that first step today. Try it, then try it again.
You will not regret it.