Numerous spiritual paths are focused on not being a narcissist. For example, studying the Kabbalah is meant to facilitate overcoming one’s ego. I learned while studying in those realms that ego isn’t always about people who are arrogant and who think they’re the best thing ever. An equally dangerous mode of narcissism and ego is playing the martyr and eternal victim.
Narcissism comes in many forms, and while it may include self-love, it also comes in the form of self-loathing, although it’s always accompanied by selfishness. The three most important people for a narcissist are me, myself and I!
I’m sure that everyone knows at least one person who falls into the category of eternal victim. Their defining characteristic is depression, and they likely engage in endless conversations about their lack-of. There’s always something amiss in their life, be it money, relationships, friendships, the right job, a car, a house, etc. Their entire life revolves around the things they don’t have, and they are never happy, because the list of things they don’t have is endless – year after year after year. It never changes, because their mantra is “not only do I not have x, y, z, but I will never have it.” As soon as they do, in fact, get one thing on the list, they immediately move their focus back to something they don’t have, and hence the cycle never stops.
I remember when I learned that being a martyr or victim was just another form of ego; I felt even worse once I learned that being the “helper” is also a part of ego. After all, I had done all three of them exceptionally well. There are situations and times where one can genuinely claim being a victim – but when we get older and still keep finding ourselves a victim, day in and day out, we can safely assume that we are the ones creating the misery, not our surroundings!
When we see the train wreck coming, and feel compelled to still go there by either forming relationships/friendships with the people we should have avoided or by engaging in the behaviors that will spell more misery, we are acting no different than an addict. A vast majority of narcissists are co-dependent, even though they may appear fiercely independent. Having an obsessive or compulsive need to keep engaging in destructive behaviors is what victim narcissists do exceptionally well. Hence, the bonds they form are either with broken or superficial people. Being addicted to the wrong type is a by-product of being co-dependent!
How does one get out of this cycle? Well, it requires self-realization above all. There has to be a rock bottom which stops the blame game, and shifts the focus onto one’s own actions and one’s own role within one’s life. For some people, the rock bottom never comes. The addiction to being miserable is too powerful, and the circle of people who enable the addict is generally too tight.
However, rock bottom does come for some, sometimes in the form of a powerful knock-you-on-your-butt kind of experience and other times in the form of waking up one day and simply being tired of continuing the same old cycle. Once hitting rock bottom occurs, the healing process can begin. The first step is seeking help from a professional! The narcissistic voice in the head will claim that one doesn’t need any help, because ego’s active interest is to stay alive, and as long as it can blame another, or keep making excuses, its existence is secured.
Leave it to the professionals! There are many tools that help in rewiring a faulty hard-drive. These tools include hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, traditional therapy, meditation and yoga, amongst others. At the end of the day, we all decide the quality of our lives, regardless of what has happened! So, within this spirit I’m going to quote my daily calendar saying for New Year’s Day, from “Getting in Touch With Your Inner Bitch”:
“Your Inner Bitch wishes you ‘Happy-Do-Over!’ There are 365 days to make the life you really want come true – use them wisely!”