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Pay Attention to Me!

A while back I (unavoidably) heard someone referring to another person as a "narcissist", and I had to laugh (inside). To be fair, it appears like there are a lot of genuine narcissists in the world today. Narcissists are those who are so focused on themselves that they are unable to consider others in virtually any capacity unless it relates to themselves. A narcissist will always turn a conversation to himself as quickly as possible, because he is unable to discuss anything else. Most narcissists cannot understand their problem because they presume that their self-focus is the way it is supposed to be.

Why did I laugh (inside) at what this person was saying? Because the speaker was speaking in a very self-focused manner as he was saying this. I had been trying to help him to understand this behavior in his life, but was not getting very far in my efforts. Then it struck me: of all people, the ones quickest to call another a "narcissist" will always be those who truly are narcissists. Do you see how this works? A narcissist (a self-absorbed individual) cannot stand it when someone else does not focus all his or her attention on the narcissist, so he will call the other person (regardless of his actual behavior) a "narcissist".

Now, let me make it clear: I am not calling the person I was listening to a narcissist. I do not know him or his situation well enough to do that. Yet, the connection is unmistakable. Narcissists frequently prove their narcissism by claiming anyone who does not follow their self-absorption is a narcissist! "You are self-absorbed because you are not as absorbed with me as I am!" It is clearly more than a mere coincidence. It is similar to the situation with humility -- the one who claims to be humble, is automatically proving he is not humble (!). The person who sees all others as narcissists is most likely proving himself to be one.

Does this mean we should make the same mistake and call everyone a narcissist who says that someone else is a narcissist? Of course not (or we would have to call ourselves that). It does, however, mean that we need to look carefully at how easily we make that claim of others. It also means that we should be cautious when someone calls another person a narcissist. Maybe we could all just try to stop being self-focused at all? That would be wonderful, would it not?


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