June 23, 2019
As most of us go through life, we mature and develop ourselves, learning from our experiences and growing in character. Growing in character is hard work. Some of life’s lessons are tough.
It also takes the right kind of motivation to succeed at this daunting yet worthwhile task. Why?
Early on we develop personalities our unique and habitual ways of perceiving and doing things.
Even if we’re a fairly well adjusted personality we can find the task of growing in character challenging because of how hard it is to modify longstanding habits, and even when you’re optimally motivated, you always face the prospect of setbacks. Old habits are hard to break. If a parent is narcissistic the character flaw is already ingrained.
Certain personality and character disturbances have a hard time when it comes to growing in character. That’s because the styles of coping they’ve developed are not only inherently satisfying to them but appear to work. Over time, these styles become deeply ingrained. And those who possess these ingrained, comfortable ways of coping are not likely to have much motivation to change unless things in their life go horribly wrong. If it becomes clear to the person that they simply can’t continue going about business as usual, they can begin looking for ways to re-shape their lives. This involves calling into question the ways in which they have viewed things. It involves an honest self-reckoning and a necessary questioning of one’s core beliefs and attitudes and of one’s patterns of behavior. Often it takes incarceration. In that process, and with a willingness to at least consider some different ways of seeing and doing things, change may occur. The first step in the process, however, is admitting the error of one’s ways, humbly acknowledging that some things about one self really need to change and have been wrong.
Narcissistic individuals have a particularly hard time growing in character because they are unable to admit shortcomings and error. Most narcissists are lacking in good conscience development, so they’re not dealing with much guilt or shame to defend against. And while there are indeed a few narcissists whose self-image is somewhat tenuous, most narcissists simply don’t want to change their grandiose self-image. They really like who they are. To admit error is to admit weakness, and more importantly, it is to see oneself as having a status among peers of equality if not inferiority, a status they’re simply not willing to accept, believing themselves to be “special” or superior.
When the person is character impaired — especially the narcissist — it’s alwaysabout “position,” or social status. Besides, it’s so much easier just to blame everyone and everything else when things go wrong. To blame oneself, and one’s ways of seeing and doing things necessarily raises the issue of change, and change requires work — more specifically, it requires the very kind of labor that those with attitudes of entitlement and “special” status abhor. These behaviors are a fairly “automatic” bad habit, but they’re not necessarily unconscious defenses. They still believe someone else is to blame.
I’ve known many individuals who stuck with their narcissistic relationship partners for years, believing that time and life experiences would eventually cause the partner to begin a reflection process. And when, despite all sorts of negative consequences, the narcissistic individual still didn’t change, they also succumbed to the erroneous belief that the narcissist must simply lack insight.
In the end, while they had grown considerably themselves, they ended up feeling only frustrated and defeated by their narcissistic partner’s failure to grow. And that’s when they finally threw in the towel. They stop making excuses. Excuses do not help the partner.
They didn’t confront directly the narcissist’s habit of evading responsibility by blaming everyone and everything else. They must also stop manipulating and that is another story…
It takes a lot for narcissists to stop pointing the finger outward and to take a serious look inside.
Stopping the blaming of everyone and everything else and being willing instead to take a serious look at one’s own ways of thinking and behaving is rare for the narcissistic personality.
It is nearly impossible and they usually end up alone. Multiple partners often occur because people do eventually refuse to put up with the isolation, abuse, manipulation and blame.
There is no happy ending here. Be aware and check your own predilection for blaming others. Think the film: ‘Virginia Wolf.’
Unless the narcissistic personality is independently wealthy or supported financially by a partner these personalities often have a difficult time staying employed and the older they become the less forgiving employers become. Because they are unable to engage anyone else’s opinion they usually have poor judgment and will be financially incompetent although they will transfer blame to someone else…
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