Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see a post on Facebook, or some other social media platform, detailing someone’s experience with a narcissist. They write about how self-absorbed a narcissist is, how selfish and egocentric they are, how controlling they are…on and on it goes.
Without diminishing the pain and difficulty of relating to a narcissist—I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you’ve had personal experience—I’m going to share a perspective that you probably aren’t going to like, in fact, it might even offend you.
Are you ready? Here’s what you can learn from a narcissist: If you spot it, you got it.
Now, take a breath. Hang in here with me. As offensive as that may sound, the “if you spot it, you got it” principle holds the key to your personal growth and your ability to create a lasting relationship.
The Mirror Effect
The phrase, “if you spot it, you got it,” is usually attributed to psychologist, Carl Jung, but this profound (and annoying!) perspective has been around for thousands of years. It’s a common theme in Buddhism and Jesus taught it too (Matt. 7:1-5).
It simply means that relationships are mirrors, that if you react strongly to a quality in another, that same quality exist in you—even though you may not be aware of it.
Ken Wilber is the brightest mind in the world today when it comes to psycho-spiritual understanding. Here’s how he describes this in his book, No Boundary:
“Those items in the environment (people or things) that strongly affect us instead of just informing us are usually our own projections. Items that bother us, upset us, repulse us…these are usually reflections of [some disowned part of ourselves]. As an old proverb has it:
I looked, and looked, and this I came to see:
That what I thought was you and you,
Was really me and me.”
This is not easy to hear, but if narcissistic people bother, upset or repulse us (or me!), whether they’re friends, family members or lovers, that simply means that we too have narcissistic tendencies—thus, “if you spot it, you got it.”
Dictionary.com defines narcissism as “a person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish.”
Are you going to tell me that you don’t see any tendency toward self-involvement, vanity or selfishness in yourself? Seriously? Don’t try that with me.
In fact, I’d make the case that every ego is narcissistic by definition (and you have an ego, as do I). The ego is one big, fat blob of self-involvement! Every ego, in every person, is about getting its way and manipulating the world according to its desires.
Do you want to know why relating with a narcissist is so frustrating and painful? It’s because when the narcissist is making everything about them, you don’t get to make it all about you! (ouch!)
The truth is this: You’re both narcissists, and you’re fighting for control in your relationship.
(Note: It should be pointed out that there’s a huge difference between narcissists and sociopaths. A narcissist is someone who is self-absorbed (99.9% of humanity), while a sociopath is someone who lacks social conscience and is usually criminal in their behavior. So don’t kid yourself. You are not in a relationship with a sociopath, for those types of people are in jail, or will be shortly.)
Narcissism: The Hallmark of the Human Condition
If you’re honest and self-aware, you’ll admit that deep down you don’t feel ok on the inside. There’s a felt sense of dis-ease or inner disturbance within you. Call it loneliness or anxiety or emptiness—call it whatever you want—but the truth is you don’t feel ok on the inside.
Furthermore, you’re entire life—every minute of every day—is devoted to fixing this inner disturbance. And one of the mind’s favorite strategies to do that is to tell you to find “Mr. or Ms. Right.”
Here’s a basic truth:
We seek relationships to fill or fix this inner disturbance.
We don’t seek relationships to GIVE something;
We seek relationships to GET something.
But that’s not love, for even the Bible says, “love does not seek its own.” And again, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that we seek relationships to GET our needs met and that, in essence, is narcissism!
Do you see this? Do you see your true motives in wanting to find a partner? You want them to fix something in you. You want to GET something from the person or the relationship, something that you believe will make you feel ok or loved or happy or safe or content on the inside.
Don’t feel bad about this. It’s the human condition.
Narcissism & The Law of Attraction
Most people have a list of qualities they want in a partner (I certainly did back in the day). Notice that our list is simply what we think we need to be happy and fulfilled. It’s not a list of what we want to give. It’s a list of what we want to GET. Do you see that having a list is proof of our narcissism, that it reveals our self-absorption, showing that we’re driven to GET our perceived needs met?
Now, this is not a bad thing; it’s just a true thing. However, it’s a very dangerous thing. Why? Because the law of attraction says “like attracts like,” meaning, we always and only attract a partner who’s coming from the same mindset that we’re coming from.
This means we’ll attract a relationship where both people are in the relationship to GET, one where both people are self-absorbed, one where both people seek to control each other. In other words, we’ll create a narcissistically-based relationship.
How to NOT Attract a Narcissist
It’s often said, “The way out is the way in.” In this context, this means the way out of narcissistic relationships is not to focus outward, trying to find someone “out there” who’s not a narcissist, but to focus inward and work on your own narcissistic GET mentality.
If you’re in a relationship to GET, you’ll attract someone who’s up to the same thing (this was called co-dependence in the 80’s). The result will be drama, conflict and heartache—as you both fight for control. (For years, this was my experience.)
But if you work on your self, if you focus inward and deal directly with that inner disturbance (loneliness, anxiety, emptiness, etc.) without making it someone else’s job to fix—then you’ll attract someone just like you, someone who is not looking for a relationship to GET something, but to GIVE something—and that something is love.
But it starts with you making a serious commitment to reorient the entire way you view relationships and your love life. You have to be willing to do the spiritual work that moves you from being a “GET” person to a “GIVE” person. Once you do that, you’ll attract someone who’s made the same shift. But again, it starts with you.
And, as a relationship coach, that’s where I come in. I know about the GET dynamic I’m describing because I was caught in that for years. It got me divorced, dumped and into a whole lot of drama.
But I found my way out, and if you’re ready to “do your work,” I can show you how to end these controlling, self-centered, drama-filled relationships and create a mutually supportive, harmonious intimacy. I offer a free 30-minute coaching session to explore what working together would look like. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roy Biancalana is a certified relationship coach, a TV personality in Orlando, Florida, and the author of two books, the latest of which is the #1 best-seller, Attracting Lasting Love: Breaking Free of the 7 Barriers that Keep You Single. For the past 10 years, Roy’s mission has been supporting single people in the art of attracting and creating conscious, lasting relationships. He offers a complimentary 30-minute coaching session to anyone interested in working with him. You can learn more about him by visiting, www.coachingwithroy.com.