Responsibility Overload

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

What an interesting political situation we have in the US these days! Choosing between what many consider to be two evils is certainly nothing new. What seems new is the level of support for each candidate. In fact, we seem to have passed from crowds of supporters to crowds of fans. Far too many of these fans care little about what their candidate says or does or even believes. They just care about the idea the candidate represents.

And this is prime environment for narcissists. When people are willing to overlook character issues, conflicting statements, and blatant illegal acts, watch for the narcissists to rise to power. Don’t ask questions, just trust me—that’s the election motto of the narcissist. Just worship me, and everything will be fine.

There are many reasons our culture has moved into this fanaticism, of course. But one of the more serious ones is the “responsibility overload” we seem to carry. Somehow we have all become culpable for crime and suffering, no matter where it happens. If you don’t care, you are not a good person. We are all supposed to try to stop this, even when it happens far away. Racism, financial inequality, bullying, health problems and care—these things are on our shoulders. Or at least we are made to feel that they are. But who can handle all that responsibility?

Add to that the expectations of our family and our work, and every organization to which we belong, and we feel constantly increasing pressure. Besides, we want to be faithful to ourselves, not be lost in the requirements of others. Time and energy resources drain away.

When we become responsible for everything, we find success and peace to be impossible. Responsibility overload makes us feel incapable of almost all responsibility. All we want is for someone to take care of us. All we want is for someone to fix things.

And along comes the narcissist with promises. Our desire to have those promises come true makes us unwilling to ask how they are possible. The narcissist doesn’t care if the promises are possible. The narcissist doesn’t want to be held accountable to keep a promise. Once the promise is made and the desired loyalty is attained, the promise can be forgotten. Promises, like almost everything in the life of the narcissist, are just tools to get what is desired.

Now, I suspect that few of us can remember a presidential candidate who wasn’t some level of a narcissist. I know there were some who had right motives and ideas that sounded good to me. But, over the years, the people have stopped listening to what the candidates say. They allow the media to transform the candidates into icons, symbols that represent certain ideas or hopes. Then the people just follow, because following is easier than thinking.

By the way, this isn’t true only in presidential races. In churches, people just want a pastor who will preach and manage in a way that makes the church feel better. In business, the people want a figurehead to represent the goals and methods of the company—and bring financial success. Even in personal relationships, we look for someone to make our lives better.

The committee that is charged with finding a new pastor doesn’t want to meet week after week. The members have families and jobs and life. So they find someone who sounds good and looks good.

The company board of directors doesn’t want to spend a lot of time and instability on searching for a new CEO, so they are ready to accept the person who sounds and looks good. After all, the accomplishments of the candidate sound impressive. The company needs to move forward.

Searching for love takes a lot out of a person. Being alone isn’t much fun. Someone who sounds good and looks good is very tempting. You don’t want to ask questions and don’t want to hear the warnings of others. You just want someone.

So the narcissist comes with promises and accolades and soothing words and we fall for his/her charms. It doesn’t matter that he/she doesn’t have anything else to offer or that we wouldn’t like what else comes with the package. We don’t ask questions. We don’t want to look under the rug. We don’t want to hear about the lie. We just want the stress to stop.

Someone to fix things. The new CEO, the new preacher, the new boyfriend, the new president. Life is too much for us. If the right person comes along, we will just turn things over to him. Don’t tell us about the dangers. Don’t tell us we are wrong. Just leave us alone and let us place our trust in this savior. We are tired of thinking.

Who knows? Maybe things will work out better than last time.


Filed under Narcissism

9 responses to “Responsibility Overload

  1. Tammy

    I agree. It does take so much more energy to question the “image”. Getting to the truth can be exhausting, expensive and can turn your life upside down. You may well not want to believe the truth or expend the energy it takes to KNOW the truth, but that doesn’t change the fact that it IS TRUE.

    We all have too many narcissists in our life and it can be daunting to continue to fight for what is right. I am of the opinion that it is worth it to fight for your rights and not allow narcissists to abuse you.

    It is an entirely different endeavor to actually hold the narcissist accountable and actually facilitate justice. In the political arena, even the people who are supposed to uphold the law are either corrupt or can be intimidated by the narcissist. In our personal lives, it is emotionally exhausting to hold them accountable, and I believe very difficult to prove. Unfortunately in most cases, no contact is the only solution.

    My husband and I must rely on the strength of Jesus to stand up to the narcissists in our lives. It is there that I have found the will to persevere. When I see others changing their behavior due to my brother’s narcissistic influence, I gently call them out. When other narcs cause others to take on their ideas or attitudes, again I call them out. I tell them that just because they SAY it, DOESN’T AT ALL MAKE IT TRUE. Just because they choose to do something, DOESN’T AT ALL MAKE IT OK.

    Then I gather my 5 stones, put them in my slingshot, pray and prepare for battle. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!!

  2. Julia

    Wow, every week you hit the nail on the head harder and cleaner. It is as if you know me, you describe my life and struggles so accurately. It is a small comfort to know that I am not alone. It is a human struggle in this broken world.

  3. Mark

    For better or worse, I think the antidote is the poison. That is, when really evil regimes have come into power, we blame those who didn’t stand up. So, now people have this burden that if they turn a blind eye to something that becomes evil, then they are culpable.

    I don’t know what the truth is in this matter – I think that there are Christians, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who were powerfully called and used by Jesus to call attention to widespread abuses, but in the absence of people like that, are we guilty if we don’t feel the strength to oppose?

    Honestly, I am completely torn by that. I was in a spiritually abusive situation, and in some ways I felt like I needed to confront it, and yet I also knew that I was really vulnerable and didn’t have the strength to stand against the opposition I knew I would receive. So, instead I tried to pick at the edges, and when even that was going nowhere I left. Now, I still feel some culpability in the fact that the situation is even more abusive and people continue to be hurt, and I walked away instead of standing my ground. On the other hand, I saw how one person who did stand his ground was treated, and I realize I would have been utterly unable to do it.

  4. susanbotchie

    The overload makes me resentful. Another need, and I just want to tell the person to get the firetruck away from me. Not a Jesus response. No wonder people wall away from the Faith. I’m just miffed, because I want to treat myself for a flipping change, but as usual, will have to do without. And some Pollyanna response would be all I would get at church – so I don’t tell ’em nuthin!

  5. Cecilia K

    Regarding not wanting to “look under the rug”… I have actually considered the possibility of the opposite of that, should I ever be faced with the possibility of another relationship… and I may be taking that comment in a different direction than was intended… but I think if I ever meet another man in whom I am interested, I may have to be careful not to look too hard under the rug, at least at the beginning of the relationship. Because of my last experience, and because I am older—and very weary of dating—I don’t want to waste any time on another narcissist, Consequently, I know I will be very tempted to ferociously grill any man who attempts to date me, on the first few dates—so as to try to weed out his true character before I get too attached. While it might scare off the wrong men, it might also scare off the right men, too.

    • contendingearnestly

      Cecilia K, I relate so well to what you are saying. I am 60 yrs old and the thought of dating is terrifying and exhausting. I am not sure if I am even relationship material at this point. Because of my past experience I am not sure I if can ever fully trust another man, my concern is I may indeed come across as a crazy person because of my paranoia of getting fooled by another Narc.

  6. Kitkat

    Wow! This is one of your finest articles! I have shared this with others, we need to hear this in the political campaign, in our churches and our personal lives. You are spot on!

  7. GemGirl

    Excellent commentary!

  8. Another excellent article.
    But where is the balance between civic responsibility and personal overload. How do we stop handing our personal power over when society as a whole preaches and rewards otherwise?

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