oh, how the mind plays tricks…

I found this photo I shot in Amsterdam on my phone this morning, it got me curious and sent me down a research path (rabbit hole) of how our minds get distorted and subsequently exploited.  

Relationships.  Advertising.  Entertainment.  Politics.  Religion.  

Mostly though, I believe the distortion can be how we see ourselves.

Next, I stumbled upon this article on the PSYCHOLOGY TODAY website and thought it was worth sharing.  Joe Navarro has studied the life, teachings and behavior of cult-leaders; Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson, Bhagwan Rajneesh and Warren Jeffs, just to name a few. 

What he said was that these individuals were or are all pathologically narcissistic.

Then I started wondering about the differences between narcissism v. self-esteem.  It’s pretty stark and worth understanding better.  I thought I knew the difference.  I didn’t really.

Here’s a quick guide of the differences.  

n-v-se.jpg

Hey, the more we know, well, the more we know, right?

 

We all possess some narcissistic traits.  I’ve certainly had to take a look at myself.  It wasn’t easy at the time, but I’m grateful I did, and my relationships improved because of more awareness

It’s the extremes of these traits we need to notice.

Healthy narcissism is the characteristic of possessing realistic self-esteem without being cut off from a shared emotional life, as unhealthy narcissists tend to be.

Joe Navarro (former FBI agent):  “From my studies of cults and cult leaders during my time in the FBI, I learned early on that there are some things to look for that, at a minimum, say caution, this individual is dangerous, and in all likelihood will cause harm to others.”

They all have or had an over-abundant belief that they were special, that they and they alone had the answers to problems, and that they had to be revered. They demanded perfect loyalty from followers, they overvalued themselves and devalued those around them, they were intolerant of criticism, and above all they did not like being questioned or challenged.

And yet, in spite of these less than charming traits, they had no trouble attracting those who were willing to overlook these features.” 

Here are some of the traits to watch out for and avoid if possible.

Link to entire list:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/dangerous-cult-leaders

  1. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or brilliance.
  2. Demands blind unquestioned obedience.
  3. Requires excessive admiration from followers and outsiders.
  4. Has a sense of entitlement—expecting to be treated special at all times.
  5. Is arrogant and haughty in behavior or attitude.
  6. Has an exaggerated sense of power (entitlement) that allows them to bend rules and break laws.
  7. Is hypersensitive to how they are seen or perceived by others.
  8. Publicly devalues others as being inferior, incapable, or not worthy.
  9. Is frequently boastful of accomplishments.
  10. Insisits in always having the best of anything (house, car, jewelry, clothes) even when others are relegated to lesser facilities, amenities, or clothing.
  11. Doesn’t listen well to others, communication is one-way in the form of dictates.
  12. Haughtiness, grandiosity, and the need to be controlling.
  13. Behaves as though people are objects to be used or exploited for personal gain.
  14. When criticized, lash out not just with anger but with rage.
  15. Refers to non-members or non-believers as “the enemy.
  16. Habitually puts down others as inferior.
  17. Is constantly assessing for those who are a threat or those who revere them.
  18. The word “I” dominates their conversations, oblivious to how often they reference themself.
  19. Hates to be embarrassed or fail publicly – if so, acts out with rage.
  20. Doesn’t seem to feel guilty for anything, never apologize for their actions.
  21. Believes they possess the answers and solutions to world problems.
  22. Works the least but demands the most.
  23. Highly dependent of tribute and adoration and will often fish for compliments.
  24. Uses enforcers or sycophants to insure compliance from believers.
  25. Sees self as “unstoppable”, perhaps has even said so.
  26. Conceals background or family which would disclose ordinary they are.

“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

— Aldous Huxley, writer & philosopher

three life changing words

Lately I’ve been thinking about my “shitty roommate”.  This is my personal inner voice—she makes me doubt myself all the time.  She puts those snarky thoughts in my head that I’m “not good enough”, “not reaching my potential” or “if only you were more like…”.

Shame is the inner language of self-attack and self-blame AND shame is my shitty roommate’s jam.

Instead of trying to kick her out (which is exhausting and nearly impossible), I’ve decided to get more curious about her…even love her up a bit. Yes, she’s manipulative AND she also has pushed me.  We’re really quite competitive.  When she has my ear, she’s granted me the opportunity to self-correct behavior that doesn’t line up with my values, seek forgiveness from those I’ve wronged or offer myself a little grace.

But now, it’s time to change the rules of engagement using one short sentence. 

true

The more I say it, the more power it has for all sorts of situations in my life.

When I question her language, my shitty roommate just puts her headphones on and leaves me alone until the next time…and there will always be a next time.  She hates those three words, however, we do seem to be getting along a little better lately.

so challenging & so necessary…

When my kids were little I wanted to see all of the similarities to me and other family members…moles, mannerisms and so much more.  Those observations were really fun—welcomed and celebrated.

However, as a parent of young adults I’m acutely aware of how they are differentiating themselves now.  It isn’t easy to “parent” their emerging adulthood and separateness, but it’s really quite necessary.

differentiate lisa lillibridge

I’m trying to understand their choices and what they represent—freedom, a (hopefully) healthy sense of self and discovering their place in the world.  This is really important work for all of us. I feel more compassionate and slightly less pissed off when I access how I felt at sixteen or twenty years old. Sorry Mom and Dad.  I had to do what I had to do.

Our kids are trying to understand this brand new adulthood thing and the process is a little clunky (to say the least) for everyone.  Young adults that on occasion still need us like they are little kids.  Little kids who want the privileges that come with adulthood.  And parents who would much rather be snuggled up reading bedtime stories than watching the clock and waiting to hear the car pull in the driveway.

I don’t want to spend a lifetime feeling like there should’ve been one more book read.  One more camp.  One more trip.  One more lesson.  One more skill taught. One more ______________ (fill in the blank). If I don’t let go of the ONE MORE(S) they will keep us all from moving forward.  I’m pretty sure we all want to keep moving forward.

First, I must acknowledge the loss.

Then I have to let them go and trust our imperfect past.

What if I…

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Sentence completion Lisa Lillibridge