Selfishness

 

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

When did it become wrong for us to consider our own needs? If you ask some people, taking care of ourselves is simple selfishness. We should focus on taking care of others, they say. Don’t worry about yourself, they say. God will take care of you. You just take care of others.

But if I can trust God to take care of me, can’t I trust God to take care of others? Why does God need me to take care of others if He is great enough to take care of me?

Yes, I believe God takes care of me. I also believe He takes care of others… and doesn’t need me to do it. Instead, He blesses me when He uses me to bless others. He allows me to participate in His work. There is joy and blessing in that kind of service, when I realize that the results are in His hands and all the power and glory belong to Him. My job is simply to be available to Him. Grace means that all power and responsibility are His. He does His work. I am along for the ride.

If my call is to be available, then I should take care of myself. I should see to it that my needs are met so that I can be ready and willing to do whatever He asks. Think about that. I should get enough sleep, eat well, and pay attention to my emotional needs. If I do that, I will be available to Him.

To be selfish is a bad thing, in our culture. We have been taught that thinking about ourselves limits what we can do for others. Selfish people push others away, use others. We understand this and don’t really disagree. But to drain ourselves for the sake of others, without finding ways to rebuild our strength and enthusiasm, will take us out of the serving game altogether.

I always enjoy the little speech the airline attendants give before takeoff, especially the part where they tell parents to put the oxygen mask on their own faces before trying to put them on their children. Mom isn’t going to be much help if she is passed out on the seat next to the frightened child. Take care of yourself. That’s the only way to be truly available to others.

There’s a lot I could say about this. People in narcissistic relationships usually feel themselves being drained. When they get out, they have almost lost the ability to care for themselves. They have been so busy servicing the narcissist that they not only have nothing left, but they have little memory of how to rebuild. Adding to the injury, some have said that the more the life drained from them, the more the narcissist pushed them away. The abuser moves on to a new victim when the first is worn out.

If you are in a narcissistic relationship, find ways to take care of yourself. Small victories, basic boundaries, alone time, supportive relationships—these will give you strength even as the narcissist drains it from you.

If you have gotten away from the narcissist, don’t hesitate to take care of yourself. Just feed you for a while. If you have kids, you will want to pour extra into them, of course. But remember that you can’t give them what you don’t have. They will need to understand that you need to care for yourself sometimes. That shows them how to take care of themselves in the future.

If you don’t like the idea of being selfish, I understand. Use a different word. But do it. Find the things that rebuild you for the hour, the day, the week, and more. Invest in yourself. Even love yourself a little. It’s okay. After all, God loves you, so you are worth loving.

17 Comments

Filed under Narcissism, Uncategorized

17 responses to “Selfishness

  1. Wow… thank you sooo much for this. This is confirmation for where I’m at right now. I am now living apart from my N husband and am in the process of rebuilding me. I have good days and then there are bad days, where I feel like I should be doing something for others, and yet I just feel drained still. Thank you for giving me permission to just take care of me for awhile. xo

  2. This is a timely post for me! Four days ago I had surgery, to remove and biopsy a cyst. Before, during, and after the procedure, I was the center of attention of about a half dozen people. Probably because I had stopped breathing during a prior surgical procedure less than two months ago, everyone seemed ultra focused on taking the best possible care of me.

    I actually felt guilty for being the focus of so many people for such a long time! I really did! Even though I am a nurse myself, so I fully understood that it was their job to take care of me, I still felt like I was doing something wrong. Despite all my healing from narcissistic abuse, that’s how pervasive a malignant personality’s brainwashing can be. Having surgery, and feeling guilty for taking up everyone’s time!

  3. SAM

    It is so helpful to be reminded of this– how we are responsible for our own self-care. (We can use that word, “self-care”, if ” selfishness” is on our ( or our narcissist’s) listing of sins;)
    Thank you again for showing care for us with your encouraging words of truth.

  4. Another ACoN

    Very good points.

    “Selfishness” is one of the narcissist’s favorite terms. My mother berated me, and also my father until he left, all day long for being selfish. She was the only one in the family who got to have any needs at all. When I started to research narcissism, I found out that narcissists typically accuse their victims of being “selfish”. They love to project their own sins onto others.

    If you had the misfortune of having a narcissistic parent (or worse, two of them), you learned that trying to take care of your own needs was selfish. Since any attempt to do so was punished, you never learned proper self-care. This is one of the areas I still struggle with on a daily basis. (Of course, there is this double standard, as usual: Not only is it not selfish for the narcissist to have needs, it’s not even selfish for him to demand that everybody else cater to his needs.)

    This message is then exacerbated by the Church, which also often teaches that taking care of your own needs is selfish. I assume selfish, narcissistic preachers are responsible for that. When they succeed in getting you to believe that you must sacrificially give of your resources and yourself at all times, they can better exploit you.

    • UnForsaken

      +1 This is my “selfish” month and I need to stay focused! Self care is never easy, but it is brave. Keep on being brave, y’all!

  5. God woke me up at 5:30 on the morning of December 6, 2012, with His words ringing in my spirit, “You’re worth fighting for!” I needed to hear that, because the next month and four months later my ex did some despicable things to me. It’s still hard for me to grasp sometimes that the person who said “I love you” for 39 years doesn’t truly know what love is but sees people as objects useful or not useful, but God has continually showed me He is with me and wants to work through me. Even though I’m still facing battles, I purpose to keep my heart free from bitterness and my hands lifted to receive God’s blessings.

    • CM

      Thank you for those words. “I purpose to keep my heart free from bitterness and my hands lifted to receive God’s blessings.” This really spoke to me. When I feel a fresh assault on my self esteem , when I am faced again with the realization that I am not loved or valued except to be used, I need to run to my Father who loves me. I too want to be free from bitterness. Please parlay for me.

    • Snoopy It Is

      Just a month ago, as I was praying with someone, God told me something similar. I wrote it in my Evernote. Here’s a part of it:

      “God shared that He has been (and is) fighting for me in earnest as He sees my Call and Value but that others haven’t been because they can’t see these things.”

      That highly contrasted with my experiences with a narcissist at that time and was encouraging. I know how to hate evil now, but like Joseph I’m keeping my heart pure too by God’s Grace.

      • Blessings,and thanks. I’m always humbled and glad when something the LORD tells me resonates with others. It’s our fight to keep ourselves from bitterness and keep our eyesandhearts focused on what God tells us about who we are to Him. Rev. Dave Orrison posts a blog here called “Grace for my Heart,” and he posts on narcissism every Friday. Boy, it helps, and so does the website A Cry for Justice. Father God, bless “Snoopy It Is” today with an outpouring of Your love and strength! Recently God, I’m certain, put this verse on my Bible app when I opened it to read my daily plan.This wasn’t the verse of the day, either! Isaiah 33:1”Woe to you, destroyer, you who have not been destroyed. Woe to you,betrayer, you who have not been betrayed. When you stop destroying, you will be destroyed,and when you stop betraying, you will be betrayed.” Yikes! Amen, God’s Will in His time, for God’s Glory.

  6. The Narcissist, who is the epitome of true selfishness, is an emotional and spiritual vampire who will take and take and take until he has sucked all the life out of his victim. The victim is expected to give and give and give and then give some more. Once she is no longer able to give, the Narcissist will discard her with as much empathy as tossing out an old kitchen appliance which no longer works, and simply find a new one that does…at least until it is completely used up as well. Ironically, when a victim is able to put up healthy boundaries, the Narcissist will accuse her of being selfish to guilt her into resuming the abusive relationship as it was, rather than accepting the relationship with healthy boundaries. This tactic whereby the Narcissist accuses his victim of the very sins that he is most guilty of, is known as projection. It often works, because victims have heightened traits of caring for others, empathy, forgiveness, and investing in relationships, even to their own detriment. Which is precisely what the Narcissist sees when he targets them for his use.

    It is not “selfish” in the bad sense of the word to establish healthy boundaries and care for yourself. Healthy people recognize that others are separate and independent beings with the right to their own opinions, possessions, money, careers, etc. Narcissists have no boundaries whatsoever, and therefore view others as tools to serve them. Families and spouses are merely extensions of themselves, and so all their opinions, possessions, money and careers all belong to the Narcissist for his own personal gain. (I just spoke to someone this week whose ex-husband went to the employer of his 19 year old son, picked up his paychecks, and deposited them in his own bank account, as if he owned it. While others may view this as unbelievable, those who deal with Narcissists know that Narcissists view their money and their family’s money as an extension of themselves. If you ask a Narcissist for money or tell him that the money you earned is yours, it’s like asking him to chop off his finger, because what he views as his money, he views as part of him. They won’t do it.)

    Jesus is our example when establishing healthy boundaries. He regularly went off by himself to spend time with the Father to recharge his batteries. After a time of preaching and healing the crowds, he retreated to his group of close friends. He was compassionate to those who were seeking Him, but he called out the Pharisees for what they were: “a brood of vipers” and “hypocrites” and sons of Satan, not God. He gave us a great verse for dealing with Narcissists that I regularly employ: “Do not throw pearls to swine, for they will trample the pearls and attack you.” Matt 7:6. Those who have dealt with Narcissists know that every kindness extended to them (i.e. pearls) will be taken for granted and not be appreciated (trampled) and the Narcissist will berate his victim and accuse her of evil for the very kindness that was extended (attacked).

    Taking time to heal, and making healing your top priority, is important after a relationship with a Narcissist. Let God and godly people who see the good in you speak truth to you, and dispel the lies the enemy and his minion the Narcissist have spoken to you. Soak in God’s love and the love of good people who love you, which heals the arrows and wounds of the enemy and the Narcissist. Have no contact with evil (i.e. the Narcissist), as Paul advises Timothy in 2 Timothy 3 after describing a Narcissist. (If you have kids under 18 for which you share custody, make the contact as minimal as possible.) Let the Holy Spirit replace the spirit of fear which paralyzes (which is exactly what the enemy wants) with his spirit of boldness, courage and truth, so that you can be the person that God designed you to be!

    • Georgette

      My ex-N stated that his money and my money was his and no women was going to tell him how to spend it! Thank you Jesus for saving me from hell!

    • Snoopy It Is

      Well said! I read the chapter your referred to in Timothy to indeed see the traits of a narc. That reminded me of the judgment on Korah, Dathan, and Abiram as well in Num. 16. It’s definitely needful and healthy for victims and survivors of narcs to be surrounded by caring people and to invest a lot of time in being ‘selfish’.

  7. Adele

    This is a good reminder that I have God’s permission to take of myself. Thank you Pastor Dave.

  8. Yes! Thank you for the timely reminder.

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