It’s Narcissist Friday!
It no longer surprises you to know that there are many dragons, even along your new path. There may be one great one, but there are many others. But what does surprise you is that there are so many little dragons. They hide in holes and behind bushes and in shadowy areas. When approached, they are every bit as vicious as the large dragons, more so in some cases.
Occasionally, our family takes a load of garbage to our local dump. Of course, I should say “landfill” or “recycling center” or “waste station.” Something we have noticed is that the man who tells you where to unload is absolutely in charge. We know he is in charge because he demands obedience and loudly protests any digression from his demands. There is little mercy for the person who unloads in the wrong area.
I have told my children that this man has a kingdom. It might be small or undesirable in our eyes, but it is his. He is in charge.
Recently I heard someone say, “Management is management.” The point was that being in charge in one place is much the same as being in charge in another. The manager at the fast food restaurant may be just as domineering and superior in his/her place as the manager of a large company. Often the person who fails in management in one company will find a similar position in another, albeit smaller, company.
Narcissists usually have a need to be in charge. They need to show their superiority and control those around them. They deserve to be served and respected and admired, they think. But their kingdom might be small.
You might find a man who has a low or mundane position at work who is a tyrant at home. You might find a woman who is quiet and subservient everywhere but in her club or service organization. A pastor might be content with a small church as long as he can be in control. A manager, as I suggested, might be content with a small restaurant as long as he/she can order people around.
Now, I say they might be content. In truth, the narcissist will always think himself to be worthy of higher leadership or management positions. Those above him will be unworthy and incompetent. Yet, he will not try to climb the ladder because it might expose his own inadequacies. Not all narcissists are loud braggarts who fight their way up the ladder over the bodies of their co-workers. Some are so afraid of failure that they won’t try.
But at home or in some small area of life, the narcissist must build a kingdom where he/she is the best, the smartest, the most worthy. And, interestingly, there will almost always be someone who bows down. Narcissists don’t want to be in charge so they can do the work. They want others to do the work. So they will be in charge in some place or position where others serve them.
When you understand that not all narcissists have the same levels of aspiration or the same willingness to give energy and time to the pursuit of larger positions, then you can see how a man or woman can be almost gentle in one place and abusive in another. You can see how a man might be considered a faithful servant at church and a cruel taskmaster at home.
But these “mini-dragons” are often filled with anger. They believe they are just as capable as larger dragons. They accuse others of getting breaks they never got. Favoritism, manipulation, deception–they claim they were somehow cheated. So, they are even more cruel and demanding than their larger counterparts. Don’t mistake acquiescence for contentment. Just because the narcissist can’t be in charge anywhere but in his little kingdom doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to or doesn’t think he is competent. He/she may be angry to be a small dragon.
Others are just willing to be small dragons. They get enough satisfaction from their little kingdom to get by in the rest of the world. They may reason that a larger kingdom will take too much energy. They may not want the negative that comes with greater exposure. For whatever reason, they don’t aspire to much more.
So, when you hear someone say that a spouse is a tyrant at home, but you have never seen that side of the spouse, this could well be the reason. When someone tells you that a boss is demanding and manipulative, but you don’t that in him at church, you should understand. Narcissism, from our “unprofessional” perspective, is what a person does. Those who demand, manipulate, and treat others as less than persons are being narcissistic.