Narcissists travel through life lightly and deftly. Whether at center stage performing their convincing act and wowing their crowd, narcissists are not burdened or distracted by shame or guilt. As long as they are getting their egos constantly stroked and bolstered and vanquishing their competitors, they are manic with their perfection, mastery and superiority. For those of us who actually have a conscience and feel shame when we have done something to hurt another human being, life each day is more complex and at times painful. Having to consider the feelings of others is a responsibility that many individuals take very seriously. It is part of their imprint as a person of integrity. When we are empathic with someone who is suffering this requires our time and energy. We have to stop what we are doing to help someone with whom we have a close bond or someone we don't know as well who needs our assistance desperately. Those who have a conscience and are empathic naturally place this person's dilemma or crisis as a priority over their own immediate goals.
Most individuals feel shame when they have done something that is wrong. Shame is a very uncomfortable feeling, a body-mind experience that can be very painful and humiliating. Some children are unmercifully shamed when they are young. This has a negative impact on their feelings of self worth if it is particularly egregious and repetitive. Growing into adulthood we experience situations in which we are ashamed of ourselves for being foolish, impulsive, cruel, dismissive and insensitive of others as well as for some of the impulsive acts we have indulged in. We feel the shame, understand what we have done, forgive ourselves and ask for forgiveness when required and move on with our lives.
The narcissists experiences neither guilt nor shame. He is impervious to the truth since he lives in complete delusion. If you have ever wondered how narcissists get so much accomplished, remember that they know how to get others to perform the work that they are too superior to do, that they don't pay attention to or raise their children (unless they are molding a golden child who will become the family god) their spouses are disposable objects used for decoration and display that will burnish their personal and professional "brand". These people are so ruthless that they attempt to psychologically disrupt the lives of their own children if they don't go along with the narcissist's program for every phase of living.
Holding some shame and/or guilt is part of being an authentic human being. As we move closer into understanding the deeper and often darker reaches of ourselves, we learn to let the shame we were holding from long ago to fade out as we heal. We discern when it is necessary and even instructive to feel guilty over our transgressions. We work them through, resolved not to repeat these negative regressive patterns of thought and deed again. Unlike the narcissist who is always psychologically regressed like a spoiled, cruel petulant child, we must forge ahead to continue to grow for the rest of our lives, balancing the light and dark of our personalities, nourishing our creative gifts and expanding and deepening our compassion for others. To learn in-depth about the narcissistic personality disorder, visit my website: thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life
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