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.