It’s Narcissist Friday!
We have just been through a time in our culture some are calling the “Great Resignation.” I’ve written about this before. The statistics show that very large numbers of people have quit their jobs. Job postings are everywhere, particularly in retail. One of our favorite restaurants was closed this morning just because they couldn’t get staff to come in. Some, of course, are sick. Others are probably tired from the holidays. And all are sick and tired of working in an increasingly crazy culture.
Whenever times like this come, when some people have good reasons to make a change, we see others change as well. When some people are upset at church and decide to leave, others will go also. Not with the ones who were upset, nor for any particular grievance. They just leave. It happens in almost any organization.
In fact, it even happens in personal relationships. Some people have commented that it seems like all their friends are getting divorced. It may be that some of them are jumping on the train just because it is moving.
There are several reasons for this phenomenon, of course. Sometimes people are reminded of their unhappiness when they see someone else making a change. Some people don’t want the attention a change brings and wait until others are doing it. But some have another reason, something they can’t put into words. They feel lost in the relationship or organization and need to find themselves again.
Most of us were never taught how to limit our connection with others. The whole idea of boundaries is foreign in some families. Businesses and organizations don’t like to hear about limits. You are told to give 110%, everything you have and a little more. They expect this, regardless of the cost to you.
Narcissists and narcissistic organizations want us to lose our ability to stand up for ourselves. We are to think what they tell us to think, do what they tell us to do. To question their authority or suggest they might be abusing their position is to incur their anger.
So, I would say: Never sell yourself! Define a limit beyond which you will not go. The job does not own you. The church does not own you. Even your spouse does not own you. There must be limits to protect you.
When you go to work, you actually sell your time and energy. You agree to exchange your time and energy for money. That’s normal. If you have expertise, you may sell that for a higher price. A job is a business deal, a financial agreement.
When you connect with a person, you offer a part of yourself. We don’t put it in terms of selling, of course. But we still expect an exchange. We share resources to benefit each other. When that doesn’t happen, we feel empty and used.
So, never sell yourself. Keep your heart free. Yes, even in intimate relationships. Share, but stay free. Otherwise you will not see the manipulations or abuse easily.
I know this goes against conventional advice. Married couples are supposed to share everything without any boundaries, they say. But those who do that will almost always find that it is one sided. You may give, but you will not receive the same. And then you will feel trapped.
Too many have told me that they felt lost in a relationship or that they have no life outside of work. They sold/shared too much of themselves.
Sell your time. Sell your energy. Sell your expertise. Share these things in relationships. Make sure you get a good return for them. But never sell yourself.