How we see the world

 

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

 

Do you find yourself fixing the motives of others, trying to explain the nastiness and abuse away? “He didn’t really mean it.” “She has so many problems of her own, that’s why she acts that way.” “Well, if you knew the truth of his life and upbringing…”

When someone calls your attention to a mean thing another said to you, are you surprised that you didn’t hear the comment? Did you think you heard something different, something more positive?

Not naive or stupid. Just happy. Just a desire to conform the world to your basic good will. You want the world to be good and other people to think like you. Your belief is not meant to be manipulative, but it does tend to change the actions and attitudes of others, at least in your mind.

Not everyone sees the world this way, of course. Some are angry. Some are afraid. Some combine their anger and fear into a general negativity. They expect the worst from others and the worst from life. I suppose this is often taught at home in various ways, and I am not suggesting that this attitude is inherent. We may well learn the way we look at life.

But I would almost be willing to bet that most of those who read this blog are people who see life positively. Or at least used to. I suspect that narcissists attach themselves mostly to people who are positive about life.

You might remember the Farside cartoon about the man whistling in hell. Whatever work he was doing was not bringing him down. One of the demons in the cartoon says to the other, “We’re just not getting through to that guy.”

Narcissists are drawn to positive people for two reasons. First, because the narcissist sees the world as negative, he/she cannot abide anyone who sees it otherwise. To allow that person to continue to be positive would be to suggest that the narcissist is either wrong or incompetent. So, like the demons of hell, the narcissists set out to break the positivity of those whistle while they work.

But, secretly, the narcissist is drawn to the positive person because he wants that positivity. It is draining and damaging to be negative all the time. Most narcissists live in competitive and fearsome worlds, believing that others will hurt them or use them. They see the worst in everyone. But the positive person is happy, at least a lot more happy than the narcissist. So the narcissist will seek to take that positivity away for himself. In other words, he will try to become happy by taking your happiness.

I have heard (and read) many people who said that they used to be happy. They used to be positive, but the narcissistic relationship drained that happiness from them. Now they live in fear and pain, distrusting others and waiting for the “other shoe” to drop. Sometimes these folks even use narcissistic techniques to try to regain their happiness at the expense of others. But they hate doing that. They hate their negativity.

I believe that the desire to be a happy person is the first step toward being that person. When we look around and begin to allow ourselves to feel that peace and joy again, it comes. God wants you to be happy. He gives you good things and wants you to live enjoying those things.

No, the narcissist doesn’t really want to be happy. The narcissist owns his negativity. He/she identifies as a negative person, no matter what facade covers the truth. The narcissist doesn’t really understand that happiness is a way of seeing the world, rather than a process of getting what you want.

You see, you know something the narcissist does not know. You know that:

Being satisfied is not the same as being happy
Being successful is not the same as being happy
Being comfortable is not the same as being happy
Being popular is not the same as being happy
Being beautiful is not the same as being happy
Being wealthy is not the same as being happy
Being powerful is not the same as being happy

The narcissist does not know these things. The narcissist will not be happy until he/she does.

You, on the other hand, are happy already. You just have to remember. The positive person is happy because that’s the way he/she sees life. In prison, in pain, even in grief, positive people find ways to laugh and whistle.

God loves you. This world is not your home. The promise of eternal peace and joy is real. The past does not define you. The days ahead will have good in them. You are forgiven. You are free. You are accepted. You are valued. You are loved.

 

25 Comments

Filed under Narcissism

25 responses to “How we see the world

  1. Sandra C Martineau

    I can’t tell you how much your messages every Friday have helped me to understand what I am going through. You are spot on with this. And thank you for the words of encouragement at the end. We all need to hear that…and in our situations? About a 100 times a day. Thank you.

  2. karebrad

    Thank you for these words of encouragement. The N in my life, in a shaming way tells me I live in a fairy tale world as I see the positive or find a positive in things. It’s refreshing to hear & read this!

  3. Annie

    Are you sure you aren’t writing about my life?! Smile. As others have commented, you are spot on with your messages. I’m so loved by the Lord and each day, now that the N is out of my life, I am reminder of that love in SO many ways! Be blessed!

  4. maggiewelsh

    Well, just a brief comment, I’m not sure the Bible promises happiness. Maybe US Constitution provides for that possibility. But Bible does suggest we can obtain joy. Not sure what all of the worship of happiness in the current culture is anyway and what to people define it as?

    • Hi, Maggie. I have heard this before, too, that happiness and joy are not the same thing.

      It occurred to me, after I read your comment, that I have never looked up the word “joy” in a dictionary. But what you said here put a question in my mind, so I decided to see what thefreedictionary (dot) com has to say about the meaning of the word. Here it is:

      joy (joi) (n)
      a. Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness, or an instance of such feeling

      Based on that definition, I think the word “happy” works just fine in this post. And I have personally experienced this in my own life. Before I turned my life over to Christ and made up my mind to serve, obey, and trust Him — come what may — I was miserable most of the time. But a little over 14 years ago, right before I turned 50, when I went from being staunchly agnostic to a Christian believer, my sorrow was turned into joy. And today, even with all the ups and downs in life, I am genuinely happy.

      Why am I happy, despite all the evil and grief in the world? Because, as Dave said:
      “God loves you. This world is not your home. The promise of eternal peace and joy is real. The past does not define you. The days ahead will have good in them. You are forgiven. You are free. You are accepted. You are valued. You are loved.”

      Thank You Lord Jesus for your gift of grace! I don’t deserve it at all, but you give me grace anyway, and I am greatly blessed!

    • Karen

      “Today people tend to seek happiness more than joy. We often try to fill the hole in our souls with anything that will promise the happiness we so desperately seek. But happiness isn’t what fills the gaping void in our lives. That’s what joy does. Joy comes from the inside, not the outside.
      Joy doesn’t come from working, praying, or believing harder; it’s a gift from God. We can’t create joy; only God can. Joy comes when we realize how much we have been blessed.”

  5. Jodianne

    Great perspective!

    I think narcissists are drawn to positive people to hide their negative nature and also to bring down the positive person, steal their happiness to prove their negative perspective is reality. The more unhappy they can make others, the more their own existence and truth is validated.

    A happy person tries to prove there is love. A narcissist tries to prove there isn’t. And never the twain shall meet.

  6. A child of the One True King

    Love this! Timing was great as I just had this conversation with my N mom earlier this week. She judges by looking at the outside and when asked about whether these “friends” who have “this” and “that” are happy or have joy, she remains perplexed by the question.
    Matthew 13:14

  7. Janet

    WOW!!!!
    That is EXACTLY what my ex N friend was like:
    NEGATIVE. I had to honfront her negativity on more than one ocation, because, EXACTLY, IT WAS DRAINING. AIhad to tell her, ” you are too negative! About everything and everyone! You never say thank you! You don’t appreciate ANYTHING! It is just sooo draining!!! I cannot be around it 24/7!” And every time I finally could take no more of it, said this and tried to pull away, I got the accusations, the manipulation through character assasination, the “poor-me-nobody-understands-nothing-ever-works-out-for-me”, etc, ect.
    So I would “feel bad for making her feel bad” (!!!???) But, she finally did it one time too many and I had already massively lost the care and interest in her life that I used to have. I told her I was done.

  8. Very poignant,
    Thanks Dave…one of your best!
    Saving this one to re-read often.

  9. OTHJ

    Thanks again, Pastor Dave, for encouraging us to stand strong in God’s love, which is steadfast and true. You make some excellent points. But I don’t think the narcissist “owns” his negativity. He/she is really good at blaming others for his/her issues and projecting his sins/flaws onto others. I don’t think narcissists feel responsible for any of their actions. They did x because you did y. They “own” other people’s time & resources, but they don’t own their character issues and negativity.

  10. I think this is so true! I think they also know that more people will be drawn to them if they have a positive person with them, and yet they can hardly stand that you are so positive and try to destroy that in you. They are working to destroy the thing that drew them to you. I’m not sure they even do it consciously…but some kind or weird instinct or technique they learned in childhood.

  11. Phoebe

    Thank you so much Dave. This is so sweet. It give worth to us who have been around narcissist.

  12. UnForsaken

    We need to reach out and take joy. Because actually, it is there for the taking. God made it. But not one person is going to give it to us. We need to reach out and take it by creating it by the way we look at things, and that truly is an attitude or way of looking at life. Not stuff, not what people can do for us, not our immediate condition or surroundings…none of that is real happiness.

    And we don’t have to feel all “up” or smile all the time to be happy, especially going through a really hard time. You can cry every night and still experience happiness. Crying can be acceptance and result from the immediacy of pain. But when we still choose to look up, to believe there is hope when we no longer feel it, to embrace the moment for what it is – good or horrible -, this it to be open to the happiness God has to offer us around another corner . And when we do this, feeling our courage is at it’s lowest ebb, this is the actuality of being brave.

    No, our lives may not be like a picture perfect story, but God does want us to be happy. One way He makes that possible is by being there for us Himself. As we rest in the truth of His Word, even if we cannot feel His presence or think He has forsaken us, we will find that we slowly begin to see the small gifts of joy He sends into our lives to affirm that He IS with us. Keep resting, keep believing. Know that He is with you, that He love You. Eventually He may make you see humor in things you didn’t know existed. Remember how to take care of yourself as you would a small child you love. He is doing this too.

    He is our happiness.<3

  13. Kitkat

    I needed this boost today! A very encouraging post! Thank you!

  14. Savedbygrace

    thanks Dave, what a helpful topic to ponder on!!

    I think a lot is summed up in the title “How we see the world”..for the N they are the centre of the world. Fullstop. Because of this they are chronically self centred and will do whatever it takes to maintain their world.

    I don’t think they ‘own’ their negativity particularly (agree with OTHJ and pedalpowergirl!) they do what they want to do for their own reasons and what works for them.

    I agree : ‘ the narcissist will seek to take that positivity away for himself. In other words, he will try to become happy by taking your happiness.’ in fact I finally woke up to the fact that his abusive behaviour was in direct proportion to how happy I was.

    It can be difficult to spot this pattern tho as they do appear happy at times and in our positivity we link it to our kind deeds, better communication,he needs a holiday, a change of job, move house etc etc when in fact it is likely to have been because they are getting their own way or there is an image to project and maintain in front of others.

    I think they are the saddest of people – like a child looking through a window of a candy store,watching others enjoy, but never able to taste the sweetness themselves. It makes them mad!

    Part of my recovery from a very long marriage to an abusive N has been to learn to not feel guilty about being happy or having a positive outlook ( esp when there are plenty of Christians who frown on divorce, and give out vibes that ‘now’ it’s somehow ‘inappropriate’ for me to be happy). Go figure..
    Your post today was very encouraging:) and made me happy!

    “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” Proverbs 17:22

  15. Needed this… God’s Word is true. Having others continually affirming it helps. “Dear Lord. I need your strength; I’m smiling on the outside but feel utterly broken.”

  16. Victim no more

    Thank you so much for this….. It’s perfect…. I can’t describe how much your posts have helped me …… we , positive people/N victims can not let the N win by killing our way of seeing the world… The world is beautiful … Yes there are sick and negative people but we see the beauty in the world and it feels good to be that way. .. It helped me get back on my happiness feet when I understood that if I let him/his memory/the memories of the monster/the thoughts and many thoughts we have as we are affected by the N that drain us and make us sad … If I let all that block my happiness he would win in the end…. And I was NOT going to let him win!!!!! It took a long time but I’m happy again… I’m much wiser and experienced but I’m happy and my happiness is pure !!!! I’m shining like I used to again…. Feels great! And so will you!!!! Huge hug!!!

  17. Thank you. I remember all the times I would be happy and NM would find a way to belittle and demean. I learned to hide my cheerfulness from her. She didn’t know what to do. It made me laugh, when we weren’t in the same room. No one is allowed to steal my joy anymore.

    • UnForsaken

      Yes, it is often a good idea to hide your happiness as your own little “secret”, or at least the thing that made you happy. Otherwise it may disappear! But I have also found that sometimes he expects others to Be his happiness. If I’m not “up” around the holidays he treats me worse….because he expects me to manufacture enough happiness for him too!

      I still can’t get over the times I heard someone laughing in the distance, totally overwhelmed by the joy of moment, and hearing him say under his breath, “Way too happy”. How can you be too happy?! This person saw something in that moment he could never get. Another way of shaming and taking the joy is for Ns to wince and tell you you are laughing too loud…in their ear…people are watching…you name it!

      But remember that whatever coping mechanism you need at that moment, your joy is still Yours. Even if it feels they have trampled it to pieces, it can be glued together again. They can never have it, not in it’s completeness.

      Listening to music this week I stumbled on several songs by Nicole Nordeman : Song of Surviving, and Brave. I’ve needed them a lot lately and hope the words encourage some of you as well. ❤

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