It’s Narcissist Friday!
Remember the little Sesame Street song that said “One of these things is not like the others”? We can see the connection between politicians and narcissists, but apologies seem to be something out of sync with the others.
You would be hard-pressed to find a single vocation more suited to narcissists and narcissistic behavior than politics. I know that some people think Hollywood is filled with narcissists, and I suppose that could be, but the actors and actresses we scoff at do work for our approval. They may feel entitled when they are successful, but some of these politicians seem to feel entitled all the time. Failure, laziness, compromise—none of these things reduce their self-indulgences.
I have written on narcissistic apologies before, but I was just prompted to think about them again as I read this in the news:
“I apologize to those who may have been offended by my remark.”
A classic! Let me break that down a little. Here’s the thinking behind that kind of apology:
- Not everyone was offended by my remark. Some thought it was funny. Some had the good sense to keep their opinions to themselves. Some are always against me, no matter what I say.
- Some may have been offended. I don’t really know anyone who actually was offended. My people say that I have to issue this apology because some people might have been offended.
- It was just a remark. It wasn’t a bad word. I didn’t call anyone a name or accuse that person of something. I didn’t lie or speak evil of someone’s mother. I just made a little comment, that’s all.
- What about everybody else’s remarks? Why pick on mine? Why not pick on the really nasty people, like those who call me names and disagree with me?
- I am not admitting that I did anything wrong because it wasn’t wrong. I have to say something to get people off my back—and I am sincere in my apology—but I didn’t do anything wrong.
- You people make me sick. Always twisting my words and accusing me. Don’t you realize who I am? I can’t afford the time to deal with this nonsense.
- Now I never want to hear about this again. I gave my apology. What more do people want? Let’s move on to something real and important.
So the politician/narcissist turns away from the microphone ready to attack anyone who brings up the remark in the future, but he winks at a friend as he walks away.
No, this isn’t an apology. Nor is it satisfying. I know that politicians play a little game where they each try to catch the other in some offensive words or actions. I know that the accusations are often as petty as the apologies. But the point here is that the narcissistic apology thrives in politics.
Sadly, you can find the narcissistic apology in so many places: the home, the church, the organization, any place you could find a narcissist. You might even find yourself using the narcissistic apology because that’s what you have been taught. Instead of dealing with the pain of those we hurt, or the offense we have committed, we use this apology to get out of the situation. It has become the apology of our culture.
We can do better. The narcissist may have more difficulty.
Because the narcissist really cannot sense the pain of others and only thinks of others when he/she has use for them, the narcissistic apology will always be lacking honesty and comfort. In other words, you will walk away unconvinced and untouched.