I am reading a book that is forcing me to evaluate my actions and their motives. The book is The Lost Art of Compassion. The premise is that some Buddhist thought and some western psychology agree that when you are truly compassionate you are happier. I buy that and I want to be that. The book gives some instruction on how to become compassionate and one thing it stresses is that narcissism drives most of us more than we can imagine. Narcissism as the author tells is stealthy and this is where I come in.
He talks about things we do that seem compassionate but they aren't working for the good of yourself or the good of others as it appears they would. I have actually used one of his examples before when someone was asking me about my understanding of karma. This person asked if I believed good things can come back to you just like bad things do (a very simplistic but common understanding of karma). I said yes but the good things have to be true. For example, if you donate to the charity to get the tax deduction or if you were you to someone b/c you want them to be kind to you at some point in the future? Those are not honestly good/kind motivations even though the acts were and therefore, you cannot expect good to come back to you from them. It gets tricky when you believe your motivations are honest. For example, I have a friend who often calls me for counsel. I oblige with my sagest advice, much of it is very good advice but some of it is me pontificating. I get agitated when I see this friend's number on caller ID but I answer anyway. I tell myself I am doing it b/c I know this person has few others to turn to. I feel obligated to listen even though each conversation is filled with the complaints as the last time and it is filled with his inability to let the past be the past and all of the other issues that are repeated time and again. I have realized that I continue to pick up the phone b/c of narcissistic reasons and for my sake, the sake of my family I need to do something different.
How is this narcissistic? Well, I get to assert my illusion of mental and emotional stability on someone who doesn't know the difference. I get to sound smarter than my friend and I know that he won't call me on it b/c he doesn't know the difference. I have continually participated in an illusion that I am happier and healthier than I am and better than him b/c I am happier and healthier than him. I have allowed his dysfunction serve as the reference point for my lesser dysfunction. I have been unfair to him and me.
As I have reflected on this and as I have started to catch myself during and after interactions with others I have discovered that I do this often. I am not malicious and it is not always in a mental/emotional health arena but I often assume a high road as I dispense my knowledge on the lesser beings. I have trouble allowing people to feel what they feel and believe what they believe even as I tell them they have to let others or themselves feel what they feel and believe what the believe.
With all of that, I am here to say that I have been a narcissistic liar. I would like to present this as an impersonal yet public apology. I would like to also present this as a declaration to myself and the people I interact that I will be more viligent in my efforts to correct my actions and change my motivations.