NARCISSISM IN SELF/OTHERS: RESPOND IN HEALTHY WAYS
Welcome to “Healing From Within.” I am your host Sheryl Glick author of
The Living Spirit which shares stories of spiritual awakenings,
spiritual communication, healing energies, miracles, and ways to go
within to find your true self. Today I am delighted to welcome Nancy Van
Dyken author of Everyday Narcissism -Yours Mine and Ours.
Listeners of this show have become aware over the years that my guests
and I share intimate experiences, insights and awareness of our
emotional spiritual and physical realities hoping to know more about the
human condition and to find ways for greater self-investigation and for
mastering our emotions for movement towards self-actualization and
In today’s episode of “Healing From Within” Nancy Van Dyken a licensed
psychologist and clinical social worker working with couples, parents,
and teens with depression and anxiety, will help us with a clear
definition of Narcissism and talk about the five myths that are the
focus of the book. She offers ways to build boundaries, suggests healing
activities, and shows us how to recognize the differences between
Everyday Narcissism and a more serious condition Clinical Narcissism.
Nancy shares what she believes was a motivating force for all she has
strived for in life and in learning to know and accept herself with
greater love and that person was her very kind and gentle father who
rarely, if ever, reprimanded her or stopped her from using her own
intuitive and instinctive needs to shine her light into the world with
boldness and courage. Sheryl tells Nancy she was lucky to have a father
who was also quiet but knew when to speak in order to correct any
injustice or lack of action by others. Certainly they were examples of
how to live with grace and honor.
Nancy tells us that this is the first and only book on healing everyday
narcissism an extremely common condition that limits our happiness—and
that most people aren’t even aware of. Nearly all of us are everyday
narcissists: you, me, our friends and children, our parents, partners,
neighbors and co-workers We must know how to recognize it and heal it.
This is not a book about narcissistic personality disorder called
Clinical Narcissism.. This book would be good for anyone who feels lost
or confused about their direction in life or uncertain about who they
are, or anyone having trouble in a relationship, with a partner,
coworker, family member of loved one, and anyone who wants more
happiness and freedom. Psychologists social workers counselors and
clergy should all be aware of the five myths that we are taught in
childhood and which often cause us great pain over the course of our
Nancy Van Dyken turns the growing problem of narcissism around by
helping us look at ourselves rather than judging everyone else. As a
result we find it easier to nurture ourselves while paying better
attention to our relationships. The forward of Nancy’s book Everyday
Narcissism talks about neglecting ourselves and then of course there may
be some who do nothing but focus on themselves. Either of those emphasis
would ultimately limit our level of well being.
Nancy writes, “Carrying the well-being of others on your shoulders?
Heavy isn’t it? Meanwhile a very important life is being neglected.
Yours. We humans take extraordinary measures to feel safe, even
sacrificing awareness of our truest selves in order to follow explicit
and implicit rules. On that path we can stray far from our authentic
center that we don’t know that we’ve lost ourselves. Our own false self
then relates to the false selves of others. My cat can’t read Even if I
could bear to punish or withdraw from him and used my best skills to
teach him he still would be unable to read and imagine how our
relationship would be affected were I to continue to expect him to live
up to my expectations. Yet well meaning parents routinely try to enforce
behavior that is beyond a child’s normal development capacity. What do
you imagine this does to a child…how can you avoid demanding the
impossible of others especially after being immersed in myths yourself.”
Nancy also shares that since we all have a relationship with authority
and can struggle with it every day our whole lives and not be aware of
the energy it uses or the cost of the struggle. This struggle can take
many forms—love/hate, insist/resist, open compliance hiding secret
defiance, open defiance leading to self sabotage, overt or subtle
domination, and or passive resistance. We may reward and please others
while simultaneously digging out the ground they are standing on. We can
even force ourselves into internal compliance, while losing awareness of
honest reactions. So yes we often are very hard on ourselves and others
instead of simply learning to know ourselves and appreciate life in all
its quirkiness and without judgment. But nothing is impossible if we
approach it with the proper attitude work consistently to develop the
skills and tools to achieve our intentions without limiting ourselves
through fear and restriction.
We also have a paradox in relation to dealing with young children. On
the one hand parents need to devise clear simple rules for their kids in
order to eliminate chaos. On the other hand parents also have to
understand enough about childhood development that they don’t ask the
children to do the impossible. She gives an example. Before the age of
three kids don’t normally share. They are simply unable to. So kids
playing separately side by side is normal for children under the age of
three. Sharing is not. Language development plays an integral role in
building self-control and this doesn’t usually begin until about age
five. Until then although kids may parrot what they hear from adults
they don’t comprehend the full meaning of the words they are repeating.
In general most of us are not taught or encouraged or permitted to name
our feelings and discuss them. We are often taught to hide and ignore
them…not such a good practice in conquering EN. And as a result most
young children experience feeling rejected excluded or judged by adults
for not following adult expectations.
Nancy shares one of the greatest needs of all humans….”Whatever our
childhood survival pattern was it all came from the need to be loved, to
count and to matter—that is to belong.” When we get focused on others we
often lose the ability to know what we want and stop having dreams of
our own. And often pass on these messages to our children.
The 5 myths go beyond person to person relationships and warp how we
view our place in the universe. Based on these assumptions that become
unconscious we have no idea they are running our life and are buried at
the unconscious level of awareness. Over time because of our EN and the
EN of others we don’t feel emotionally safe. After all when we were
children and didn’t know how to be anyone other than our true self we
were repeatedly judged and rejected. We were told to change and to be
what others wanted us to be because we might just be inadequate and
unworthy of love. Over time we created a false self in the hope of
becoming safe and love and built many layers to protect ourselves from
expressing our inner soul feelings…we lost trust in ourselves and
Nancy goes on to define Narcissism and then Everyday Narcissism and how
to recognize it in yourself and others.
Narcissism in all its forms is a belief that the world revolves around
us, and that what happens in the world happens because of us. As a
result most narcissists are very insecure and they have to be the leader
at all times often talking about themselves and forcing their will on
others. This everyday narcissism comes from a combination of childhood
wounds traumas and powerful myths we were taught as children. Trauma is
always felt deeply and remembered by our body. To the body trauma is
invariably experienced as an assault whether physical emotional verbal
psychological sexual or spiritual. When most of us think of trauma we
think of extremely painful events such as incest abuse rape war assault
serious injury severe betrayal extreme neglect or great and unexpected
loss. However trauma can also result from small painful incidents that
get repeated many times. This is often the case with the everyday
narcissism most of us are exposed to as children. EN can be seen as a
form of neglect in which a child’s emotional and sometimes physical
needs are ignored in favor of those of adults. Through EN many children
experience a slow repetitive grinding down of our self-worth,
self-confidence and self-trust.
Nancy tells us the story of Cassie and her Grandmother who wants a kiss
when she is saying goodbye. Cassie doesn’t want to kiss her grandmother
because she had just said something hurtful earlier. Mother insists and
makes Cassie feel grandma’s feelings are more important than hers. Awful
to do to anyone.
Intense and abrupt emotional reactions are usually trauma responses from
an old wound that just got triggered
The Five Myths that are the focus of the book are as follows:
We are responsible for –and have the power to control—how other people
feel and behave.
Other people are responsible for –and have the power to control the way
we feel and behave
The needs and wants of other people are more important than our own.
Following the rules is also more important than addressing our needs and
We are not lovable as we are: we can only become lovable through what we
do and say.
Sheryl says that as an intuitive healer and medium who is aware of the
Universal Laws of Energy and the fact that we are spiritual beings
having a physical life she has gratefully learned that each soul is
unique and has its own life plan, experiences and that each of us is
just on this life journey to refine our soul energy to levels of greater
love and compassion. Sheryl has learned we cannot change anyone but
ourselves. In her book The Living Spirit she wrote…”Recognizing another
avenue for finding happiness is possible when we finally admit, “Not
only are we not perfect, no one is perfect.” We must continue to learn
what makes us tick and what makes others react as they do, but should
acknowledge that we can only change ourselves and our outdated thinking
by realizing we are responsible for our own actions. The choice to
accept others and ourselves with our frailties and sometimes negative
behaviors can be hard, yet it is necessary in order to have times when
we feel like we have fully accepted ourselves……. This realization is the
key to allowing and accepting everything and everyone without judgment
anxiety fear pain anger or hate. It is you will find the only way for us
to experience true contentment while we are on this three-dimensional
Nancy responds that if we believe we have the power to control how other
people feel and behave which is one of the myths we will constantly
watch how others react to us. If they are unhappy we will assume it is
because we did something wrong. We will tell ourselves that if only we
had said or done or been something different they would be happy. We
will assume we have failed and we will feel ashamed or burdened or
unlovable. Thus we will live in fear of rejection and disapproval. This
is self-defeating and will lead to serious consequences for our health
and state of wellbeing.
Must trust ourselves be honest with ourselves create what makes us happy
and encourage others to assume responsibility for their own happiness
Nancy discusses the difference between Everyday Narcissism and Clinical
When the healthy pursuit of self-interest and self-realization turns
into self-absorption, other people can lose their intrinsic value in our
eyes and become mere means to the fulfillment of our needs and desires.
Clinical narcissism technically known as narcissistic personality
disorder is a diagnosable mental illness one of ten types of personality
disorder The Mayo Clinic offers the following definition of a
personality disorder: A personality disorder is a type of mental
disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking
functioning and behaving. A person with a personality disorder has
trouble perceiving and relating to situations and to people. This causes
significant problems and limitations to relationships social encounters
work and school.
Personality disorders are divided into three groups: Anxious, Suspicious
and Emotional Impulsive. Clinical narcissism is an emotional impulsive
Description of disorder: People with narcissistic personality disorder
have a constant and overwhelming need for attention usually admiration
praise and validation. At a social gathering they dominate the
conversation and at work they seek the highest possible position and
insist their ideas are the best Clinical narcissists exaggerate their
accomplishments and talents and believe these exaggerations. They lie
often blatantly and shamelessly. They have an overblown sense of their
own importance and come across as extremely arrogant. They tend to be
bossy judgmental perfectionist controlling and power hungry. They have
no qualms about exploiting cheating or in some cases destroying other
people to get what they want.
Everyday narcissism is not a personality disorder and not something that
can be diagnosed by a therapist. It’s a familiar outcome of being raised
by less than perfect parents in a less than perfect Utopian society.
It’s not healthy yet it is extremely common.
Some of the healing approaches you begin to describe include Noticing
and Investigating Your feelings and you give a great list of hundreds of
feelings we experience and how to actually allow yourself to feel these
emotions. Another healing activity is To Let Yourself make Mistakes and
Apologize when appropriate..no one is perfect. Another healing activity
is to pay attention to your body especially to anger and fear which can
close down our heart so we cannot connect to ourselves or others.
Exploring personal desires helps you get in touch with what you care
most about for you and you alone and is a healing activity that can help
you explore your talents and bring happiness.
As far as boundaries are concerned who we are is made up of our likes
dislikes wants needs feelings values beliefs experiences and
spirituality. These comprise our personal boundaries—our truth. However
the myths of Everyday Narcissism tell us these truths are not important.
Instead we are encouraged to live by other people’s truths because those
are more important than ours. As we grow up and live according to the
myths of EN we lose sight of who we are. We become boundaryless. We
conform to what others expect of us We change to fit in and lose our own
intuitiveness and spiritual gifts.
12 Explain how rules both help and hurt us?
The myths and rules of Everyday Narcissism take root in our psyches
because they are taught to us over and over by people we trust.
In Myth 4 Following the Rules is also more important than addressing our
Needs and Feelings we may discover that when rules are properly designed
and applied the can help remove chaos and drama from our lives… This is
why we have stop signs. However, when rules are made more important than
the human beings they are meant to serve people become
wounded—especially if they are young.
Many myths and rules don’t just pervade our culture: they are cultural
norms. We teach them to our kids to help them grow up to become
functional adults and some would say the myths of EN help children learn
to be kind and thoughtful. They do not. They make all of us those who
learn them and those who teach them smaller younger less functional and
By the time we are adolescents we accept that if we feel angry sad or
hurt when you act in ways I don’t like I am responsible for your
feelings and behavior and someone elses responsibility to fix the
situation so you may act and feel better….NOT SO This is a form of EN
that almost everyone shares. As a result of lifelong training such as
this and myths and rules that are wrong..we believe
I am responsible for how other people feel and behave
I am responsible for how others act toward me. ( Therefore I am ALL
Other people are responsible for how I feel and behave and are supposed
to make me feel safe happy and ok (I am the center of Universe.
The five myths create innumerable childhood wounds Because everyday
narcissism is so widespread here is the world it has helped to create.
We spend our days desperately trying to belong.
We focus on doing and being what everyone else wants us to do or be—at
least what we think they want us to be.
This focus requires us to discount ourselves and deny our own truth and
inner direction. This takes much of our freedom and energy.
We yearn for genuine connections with other people yet may not know how
to create this.
We may not even know such a connection is possible.
Yet at the same time something inside us tells us that all of this isn’t
enough. We yearn for something more real and authentic.
We are exhausted from our attempts to maintain the lies we live by.
We can create a healing environment for ourselves by living in present
time, stop the story you are writing in your head, non-attachment and
opening to new opportunities’
In summarizing today’s episode of “Healing From Within” we have explored
the Everyday Narcissism we all experience through indoctrination in
early childhood training often learning to follow The Five erroneous
myths that perpetuate ideas and rules that we must adhere to that have
us caring for others while not caring for ourselves. That behavior can
stifle joy, our need to learn more about ourselves, and create
boundaries that make us unable to create lives filled with meeting our
Nancy wrote…” In practice most of us are not taught or encouraged or
permitted to name our feelings and discuss them Instead we are taught to
hide and ignore them. And in many cases, we eventually pass this lesson
on to our own children. The result is that most young children
experience feeling rejected excluded or judged by adults for not knowing
or following adult rules and expectations. Yet often these rules and
expectations are not reasonable or realistic for people their age.”
Nancy and I would hope to break this cycle which sadly turns out to be
the case with most parents and their children and to allow more parents
to understand many of the myths that still pervade our everyday life
leading to Everyday Narcissism which alters the true nature of each soul
to experience first and foremost good feelings of Self and a world of
possibilities and beauty. Let’s begin by observing what is right with
life rather than what is wrong…A positive open hearted approach would be
most welcome and beneficial to all.