Write a blog to let people know about a workshop on narcissism that we are running hmmmm ...
That triggers a heightened narcissistic response in me and why wouldn't it ...
"How can I do that without becoming overly absorbed in how I appear to other people?.... how exciting ... how important to get my written wisdom out there ... never since the dawn of time will anyone have seen anything so impactful... Why the workshop itself pales into insignificance!
[smiles, sighs ... and then twitches]
Wait... What if I can't write a blog, I've never done one ... what if it's crap, boring, wrong! What if people think I'm not brilliant ... stupid, moronic and puerile? What if some people think it's great and some people think it's terrible? Who am I ... Who are we to be running this training? What if...Doh!
[licks dry lips, heart racing ... barely breathing]
Now I'm paralysed with fear. What if I get sued or even worse ... what if I'm right ... I couldn't possibly cope with the adulation!
OMG I'm getting more and more dramatic with every passing nano second... In fact I am possibly the biggest drama queen I know! (I can't know THAT many others, the stage isn't big enough!!!)... noooo ... I can't say that it sounds awful, terrible .... I'm off again!
Who do I think I am? (Don't say that... How can I run a workshop knowing I think that about myself, other people might see it) narcissism! Huh I can barely spell it. I'd better just be quiet and crawl back under my rock. I don't know what I was thinking. God I hope no one saw me thinking that.... Wait... Why did no one see me, weren't you looking at me, me ME! ... ...
That is the curse of our narcissism.
Yet we all have it, it's part of being human. We are all meant to; it's part of our moral compass, our integrity; a healthy dose of narcissism and its twin, shame. Only when they are excessive do they become a problem to ourselves and/or others. A wry observation in the handbook "working with personality disordered offenders" (published jointly by the ministry of justice and department of health) suggests you needn't assess the individual, rather look at the impact they have on relationships around them, so it is with narcissism. Could narcissism be the root of every personality disorder?
Keeping theory simple ... From our ancestors, (yes research suggests trauma can change DNA, genome.gov) through conception, infancy, childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. Relational rupture (narcissism) can occur at any point.
As babies, we are born dependent, egocentric and thus narcissistic. Our carers' job is to shepherd us through the individuation process to adulthood; with no manual, and their own wounds, they do this with varying degrees of success. Our job as individuals is to develop to the best of our ability towards wholeness. When the process of developing through the normal milestones is interrupted, we get stuck and stay in that place, wrestling with our need for things to go back to how they were or to change, yet fearing the very idea of change. Our very stuckness invites the stickiness, the arrival of shame. Such a deep seated sense of not being good enough, that we are suspended momentarily in the terror of our own annihilation.
The memory of original annihilation is felt at a cellular level; whether inherited in our DNA, the result of trauma or the drip, drip effect of ongoing neglect or abuse. The birth of the false self; the impact of this very memory is so profound, we will do anything to defend against the re-experiencing. Hence we go into our inflated or deflated defences and when pushed in either position, martyr ourselves, rather than experience that mind, body and feeling sensation again.
It is only when we are able to defend less, open to curiosity and love, as we begin to manage self-responsibility appropriately, that we can begin to move forward, towards the truth of all of who we are. To own all of us, both light and shadow and allow both to exist in others.
By reparation of that rupture (however and whenever created), through truthful loving kindness, back to a place before attachment, before expectation, with the awareness of only dwelling in this one beautiful moment, are we then truly free to trust; to live free of fear and to love unconditionally. That is living.
Hypothetically if trauma can change our DNA then love must also have a corresponding consequence. We cannot repair what happened for our ancestors but we can begin to repair that, rather than entrench it for future generations. This feels like a sacred act. Not only to take care and responsibility for our Self, our own life journey, but also to ensure that through this very act that we support a corresponding ripple for the generations yet to come.
Kim Shiller MSc, MBACP
Tara di Talamo MA, UKCP, AAMET
With gratitude and acknowledgement to Almaas, Assagioli, Bradshaw, Gerhardt and Symington.
Tara is a supervisor, psychotherapist and training therapist working in private practice. Tara has a background at the Department of Health, and as a senior counsellor and manager of addictions treatment programmes for determinate and indeterminate prisoners using 12-step and transpersonal modalities.
Director of Training and Quality Assurance at Teens and Toddlers, Kim works educationally, transculturally, therapeutically, and in developing accessible curriculum and trainings, for groups, adults and young people in personal and professional development. Kim is also a group facilitator and trainer at the Psychosynthesis Trust and at WYSE, and a counsellor and psychological coach in private practice.
For more information and to book onto a unique 2 day workshop exploring narcissism and shame click here.