It’s Narcissist Friday!
Yes, I know that all the excitement is over. If I wanted to capitalize on the eclipse I should have done so last week. We drove to Wyoming to see it, along with some 500,000 other cars (that’s true). Driving was terrible, the eclipse was wonderful.
But it made me think.
How many of you took your special glasses and looked at the sun after Monday? No reason, right? After Monday, everything was just the same as always. The only big deal was that the moon got in the way on Monday.
One of the most serious desires of the narcissist is to be the center of attention. The co-worker who shows up at the end of the project and is able to take credit for the work others did. The husband who picks up a dish towel just as the company comes. The mother-in-law who “cleans” what you have already cleaned so she can say that she helped you. The narcissist doesn’t really do anything except get in the way—but expects to get the attention and credit.
Those of us who were able to watch the eclipse on Monday didn’t watch the sun. We watched the moon. It was the moon that was moving. Narcissists are usually the people who are moving. They are not the regular workers, the ones we all depend on. In fact, they make fun of the “plodders” who do the real work. The narcissist is here and there and everywhere, making an appearance, trying to be noticed. The narcissist doesn’t stay in one place, resists being “stuck” in a job, pushes to be involved in the next exciting thing. Narcissists are the ones moving around.
But let’s be sure that we are seeing the real distinction. The narcissists are not moving around because they are working. They move around to look like they are working. They believe that they have to keep moving to be noticed. They are “overworked,” “busy,” “needed.” You can tell by the fact that they don’t have time for you or for what you consider important.
Most of the narcissists I have known are what I call “antsy.” I think that’s reference to the old “ants in the pants” idea. They come late to the lunch date and have to leave early. They interrupt your conversation with their phone calls, the people they see, and the agenda they brought. Some actually have trouble sitting down (unless they are watching you work). He isn’t in his office. She can’t be reached by phone. Always on their way to something else.
It is a well-known tactic in acting for one person to upstage another just by moving. Bob Newhart did it when he thought too much attention was being given to a supporting actor. The camera (and our eyes) tend to follow the one who is moving. Narcissists know this almost instinctively. They plan to be unpredictable, even rebellious, just so others will be watching.
Meanwhile, you try to do the job you have been given. You do the work required. But don’t worry, the narcissist won’t be in your way long. You will be able to get back to your regular work when the narcissist moves to another place, probably in front of another person. And sometimes, just sometimes, others will notice who the real worker is. It may be after the narcissist moves on to steal from someone else.
How can you fight this? You probably can’t, at least you probably won’t succeed. The narcissist is much better at taking your credit than you are at protecting it. But maybe there is a lesson in this. Maybe you should be willing to toot your horn a little. Maybe you should be willing to receive praise and thanks. Including others in the praise you receive is nice, but not when it lifts up someone who did nothing. Don’t be afraid to let someone appreciate you.
And maybe you should move around a little. Be willing to take on a new project or share in a new team. If something excites you, admit it and volunteer to be a part. Yes, you have something to offer. Believe it.
The narcissists will always be around to try to steal what is yours. You may not win at their game. Yet, you can be happy and fulfilled. Allow yourself to live in a little of the limelight. You deserve it.
Slow and steady only wins the race if the race is long enough.