It’s Narcissist Friday!
Last week, I wrote about “Impostor Syndrome,” and I said that the narcissist invests in a message that brings down your self-esteem and confidence. You doubt yourself, very likely, because someone told you that you were incompetent. You worry about others discovering your inadequacy because someone invested that message in you. Why would someone do that?
It’s called “projection,” and we have talked about it before here. Projection is the simple (!) act of putting your weaknesses and compromises on others. My old art teacher used to say, “It takes one to know one.” In other words, what you call others you are yourself. But, of course, the narcissist would deny that.
This particular projection touches the core of the narcissist. We have talked a lot about how the narcissist feels afraid and weak. Narcissists deal with fear of exposure and rejection all the time. They are the little child hiding, hoping you will ignore them as they present the image for you to admire. They are the small man behind the curtain, pretending to be the great Wizard of Oz.
If you test the actual work of most narcissists, you will find they are both lazy and incompetent. Most of those who seem to do well in their jobs use the work of others or excel at intimidating and politicking. Some have learned to make a good show of working hard. They complain about the hours, the lack of resources, and their co-workers. They work hard only at making themselves look good.
Because the narcissist believes he is incompetent and unworthy, he must make the people around him feel that way. The more he can pass those feelings on to others, the less they will think them about him. In other words, the poor salesman will put down your sales abilities so you don’t notice his inadequacies. Just like the gossip will accuse you of gossiping.
But projection can be very subtle. The narcissist may never say that you are incompetent. He/she will just give “helpful” comments that make you feel that way. Why? Because every comment made about the narcissist’s work is heard that way. Any advice, any compliment, any appreciation is heard as a criticism to the narcissist. Even though he/she invites the praise, the narcissist will find it hard to believe. Even though he/she invites the critique, the narcissist will hear only attacks and rejection.
The narcissist feels like an impostor. In many ways, the narcissist is an impostor. It might be better to say that the image is an impostor. By focusing your attention on the superior image, the lie, the narcissist only reaffirms the negative judgment of his real self. Every time the narcissist boasts of abilities or admiration, he/she is revealing insecurity and shame. And, yes, he knows it. That creates even more insecurity and shame.
Once again, this internal struggle reveals the source of the narcissist’s anger, criticism of others, and need for constant admiration. The narcissist lives with almost debilitating tension, but blames others and tries to give that tension to them.
So. When the narcissist makes you feel inadequate or unworthy, remember that he/she is trying to give those feelings away. You are not the incompetent one. Sure, you make mistakes. We all do. Everyone does. Just because the narcissist is quick to point out your mistakes does not mean you make more than others. And, even if you do make more mistakes than some, how many of them are due to the tension the narcissist has created to help you fail? And when was the last time the narcissist owned a mistake, without blaming someone or something?
Lift up your chin. You are not what the narcissist says you are. If you had narcissistic parents who spoke shame and insecurity into your heart, you may evaluate those words and reject them. Don’t let your identity be molded by someone else’s fears.
Instead, listen to the words of love Jesus speaks into your heart. You are unique, beautiful, strong, good, and of great value. You are greatly loved!
The recent interview with Dan Duval at Bride Ministries is here: https://www.bridemovement.com/narissistic-abuse-recovery-and-r-kelly-with-dr-dave-orrison/