“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
I have been on the subject of selfishness, narcissism the effects of being raised by narcissistic wounded people and how this also keeps getting passed forward to future generations. We all need to be seen and to feel like we are loved for who we are. Often this does not occur in our lives. Last week I wrote about being trapped in the mirror, seeing only a reflection of the self and wondering, who am I? This week I am writing about the opposite, which is really the same, can, we see others as separate from us?
When we are merged with a parent, or when we feel like we have to take care of a parent or their feelings, we too often lose a sense of ourselves as separate from them. We may not even realize we are doing this. We end up wondering, who am I, and who are you?
In my family it was normal to have everything revolve around our father. We all looked forward to our time together, and we also knew that when we were with him, we would be doing what he wanted to do. He would love for us to be with him, but we had to do what was on his agenda; all the time. This was normal. We didn’t know anything else. I am sure you all have your own story of some kind of wound which happened in your life where someone important to you couldn’t see you. When we aren’t seen it is hard to see ourselves and to think we are worthy.
I was working with a woman who was having some personal difficulties and was struggling and asked for help. Through the Family constellation work in a small group setting, we had come to a deep wound in her and we were ready for some resolution. I asked a woman who was in the group and who had been studying this work to help out. And she did…beautifully, feeling what was needed at the time. The only difficulty was that what she said shut down the client by telling her what she felt instead of helping the client to find her own words. As I engaged (I hope gently) in stepping in and helping both women, I suggested that she ask it as a question rather than to state the words for the client. I explained that by telling a client what they are feeling, whether they are right or wrong, takes away from the client the opportunity to find their own words and experience of it. I further stated that when we do this it is more about us that it is the client.
After that, the woman helper got very upset with me and was palpably angry and adamant that this was about the client. She said, “I want this for her, and I want to do this for her.” So I asked her to repeat her statement, and she did. I asked if she heard herself, and the “I” in the statement? It took awhile, but she finally heard what she had said. Whenever we want something for another person, no matter the reason or the intention, it is about us, not the other person. We want it. As it becomes more about us than the client, we also stop seeing them; an important part of them.
We may feel right, want to be right, have the best intentions, but as soon as it becomes about us, we lose the other person. My helper in this case could only see the issue from her perspective for a long time. This is what happens to us when we aren’t seen or even seen clearly. Then as we grow up we can’t see clearly. Narcissistic tendencies are all around us. Learning how to love us and see us and value us is so important so that we can heal ourselves on a deep level.
Small Lifestyle Changes that Promote Big Results: an exercise
If you haven’t read last week’s blog and exercise please do before doing this exercise. It is really a two part exercise. Here we again are working with a mirror. In this exercise, we are going to envision someone behind us in the mirror, or have a friend step in and stand behind us in the mirror, or a picture you can put so you can see it.
Now, as you are looking at yourself in the mirror, see the other person behind you. As you do ask yourself, do I still see me? Can I see both of us? Does my perspective of me change as I look at both of us? If so, how does it change? Can I see the other person clearly? Can I see myself clearly?
Again, spend about 5 minutes on this exercise. Write down your experiences See how this experience deepens or changes or adds to your experience of just seeing yourself in the mirror.
If you feel like sharing this experience, please feel free to do so.
The purpose of these exercises is to help us to heed and heal our souls so we can become the whole, vital, healthy people we can be, and to experience the joy.