Questions to weed out narcissists

Is there anything more frustrating than interacting with a narcissist?

I’ve worked with three white male narcissists in the past few years, which has led to a LOT of googling about how to deal with them. (See: the gray rock tactic.)

Turns out, some common narcissist traits are refusal to admit they’re wrong, constantly blaming others, little compassion for others, little respect for boundaries, “nice” deeds done to make them look good, and taking credit for others’ work.

Based on those traits, I came up with some questions I hope to use in the future to reveal if someone has a lot of narcissistic traits:

  • Have you been to therapy? Are you in therapy now? (Note: Some narcissists go to therapy, so this doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it’s very revealing if they say something like “I don’t need therapy” or “it’s never really worked for me”)
  • What’s some criticism you received and how did you grow from it and address your weakness? (What’s an example of you learning from constructive feedback?)
  • What’s a mistake you made and how did you take ownership for it?
  • How do you react when people tell you you’re wrong?
  • When’s the last time you sincerely apologized for something?
  • How do you react when someone is in pain or struggling?
  • Who is someone you’ve helped succeed? How did you do it?
  • What are some needs of others you’ve helped to meet?
  • How often do you admit you’re wrong?
  • Is it important to you to feel special, powerful, and unique?
  • How do you respond to other people’s boundaries?
  • How do you help build others’ confidence and self-esteem?
  • What’s an example of you taking responsibility for something negative?
  • How do you react when someone questions you?
  • What’s something kind you did recently?
  • When did you show compassion recently?

Obviously you can’t just sit someone down and ask them all of these, but I hope to sprinkle them into professional and personal settings. I know the sooner I spot a narcissist, the sooner I can save myself anguish and stay the hell away from them!

Which Golden Girl are you? An existential crisis

I am a Rose. Always have been, probably always will be.

But I’ve spent most of my life trying to be the other ones.

Sure, Rose is sweet. But she’s the one you make fun of for being so innocent and optimistic and ditzy.

Dorothy is the cool one. Dorothy is the equivalent of being a badass, snarky cool girl in a leather jacket, chain-smoking and playing drums in a riot grrrl band and dating a woman totally nonchalantly even though it’s the ’90s. (Very specific, I know.)

I had a *~breakthrough~* in therapy today and realized I have been trying SO SO long to NOT be a Rose. (Excusing for the moment that no one real person can 100% be a fictional character created in the ’80s.) I was afraid as a Rose I’m not good enough. I guess I thought if I really admitted and embraced being a Rose, I’d have to hang out with other Roses 24/7 because the Blanches and Dorothys and Sophias of the world wouldn’t like me.

It’s silly, I know, but I was am insecure.

But you know what? Trying to be someone you’re not is EXHAUSTING. Beating yourself up for not being edgier or snarkier or more extroverted or having more sex is NOT healthy or productive!

Nobody’s like, “Yo, Rose. Quit being yourself. We need two Dorothys instead of one Dorothy and one of you.” That’d be ridiculous! (Also boring, right?!)

It’s like that quoted-to-death saying, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Being myself is scary sometimes, though. I’m very judgmental, especially toward myself. There are tons of things I don’t like about myself (still getting zits in my 30s! constantly running late! unwillingness to go to even the world’s most convenient gym!).

How is it OK to be myself when I “should” be so much better or even someone else entirely?

That sounds like a pretty shitty way to live, though. The only answer is to accept my Rose-ness and trust that the Blanches and Dorothys (not really Sophias, because she’s just so caustic…see? total Rose) of the world will still want to be my friend.

Plus, I tell WAY fewer stories about St. Olaf. 😉

there’s nothing wrong with you

My therapist told me that today. Not in a “We’re done here; you’ve evolved and are perfect, TRUMPET NOISE!!!!1” way (snort). In a “You go through life thinking you’re bad and wrong and messed up and THAT’S why people are shitty and that’s not true” way.

There’s nothing wrong with me. Or you. WHAT A REVOLUTIONARY THOUGHT.

“There’s nothing wrong with any of us–except maybe Trump,” she continued (um LOVE HER). “Or sociopaths, or narcissists, or like serial killers.” I nodded. “People are inherently good.”

RECORD SCRATCH say whaaaat?

I grew up hearing we’re all sinful and evil and hopelessly flawed and only by the grace of some white guy (he was Middle Eastern, but that’s another topic) do we have ANY hope of escaping our inherent shittiness, which will otherwise make our lives miserable. And if we don’t apologize and feel guilty constantly, we’ll be damned to torturous hellfire. Woohoo!

So the idea that there MIGHT NOT be anything wrong with me is a bit of a shock. It’s gonna take a while to sink in.

I mentioned how when I was young, some female “friends” excluded me and were basically catty, petty, insecure trashbags (can you tell their actions were emotionally scarring?). And I concluded it was MY fault they were mean to me. I had done something to push them away, but I didn’t know what (being a self-righteous little goody-goody? being super judgmental?), so now I’m afraid of pushing people away without realizing it. Of breaking some unwritten rule. Because who I am is flawed and not good enough.

My therapist pointed out it probably wasn’t even about me. For the first time, I thought about the damaging family dynamics and body image issues those girls were struggling with. There was alcoholism. One of them was obsessed with getting a nose job–at like 15. Another one of them would come out as gay later and was probably struggling with a sexuality our school condemned. There was a lot going on! It’s almost funny I thought I had that much power over them, when we were actually all just struggling through the meatgrinder that is puberty and adolescence.

Anyway. “There is nothing wrong with you.” It’s an amazing concept! And I think I believe it. We’re all (OK, most of us) just trying our best to find happiness and love and stability. That won’t scare people into going to church, but it rings true. Sometimes we hurt each other, mostly (I think) because of childhood/family wounds we haven’t worked through yet. But we can learn and address our issues and change and apologize–without self-flagellation. Who knew?!

Not me. Not until today.

There is nothing wrong with you.

an email newsletter that feels like a hug

I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of e-newsletters in my day [leans back in rocking chair; puffs smoke from old-timey pipe] but Courtney Carver’s is one that always makes me feel better about life. She runs a blog (and wrote a book) called Be More With Less, which is ostensibly about simplifying and decluttering but IS ACTUALLY A TROJAN HORSE FOR SELF-COMPASSION! She has no idea I’m writing this and didn’t pay me to say this by any means but I highly recommend signing up for her e-newsletter.

Today’s email, “10 Rules to Help You Live with Less Stuff,” sounds like any obnoxious listicle you could read anywhere online, but–WAIT FOR IT–is really about being kind to yourself! I LOVE THIS SHIT! “Rule” #6, small progress is still progress, applies to a whole lot more than just decluttering. Tbh, I find decluttering kind of meh. It feels great, but maximalism pumps through my glittery purple blood. “Small progress is still progress” to me is a reminder that it’s OK I haven’t written and published a book already; trying to blog more and getting out a notebook to maybe try morning pages is a great first step. Nothing happens overnight, etc. etc. Or like a quote on my fridge says: “Nothing in nature blooms all year.”

Being gentle with yourself is where it’s at. 🌸

wtf is hygge?

Hygge is so trendy that it’s almost obnoxious, but recently on three (!) occasions, I found myself struggling to explain it to people who hadn’t heard of it (probably because they do more with their lives than read Apartment Therapy).

hygge

Anyway, the Danish concept of “hygge” (which I guess you say HUE-geh or HOO-guh depending who you ask) roughly translates to a feeling of coziness, connection, and contentment. (Conveniently alliterative, eh?) A slew of books recently came out about it, and the one I’m reading calls itself “a cure for SAD in book form,” which is kinda true!

From what I can tell, hygge means the feeling you get while sipping a steaming mug of tea on your couch, snuggled under a soft fluffy blanket, while having a good conversation with a friend…or your cat, I might add. Lots of faux fur, candles, shaggy & cozy textures, muted blush tones/neutrals, li’l cookies, and true crime TV shows, for some reason. (Those Danes gotta pass the cold dark winter somehow, I guess.)

hygge-vibes

No coincidence that IN THESE SCARY TIMES [glare in Trump’s direction] people are “cocooning” and embracing something that makes us feel safe and warm and comforted. There’s something simple, kind, quiet, and gentle about it, almost meditative. A nice contrast to loud, bright, flashy busy-ness and endless smartphone scrolling.

I confess reading The Book of Hygge has given me MAJOR Denmark envy. I know it’s romanticized and probably oversimplified, but Danish society sounds so utopian!

hygge bedroom
via Tumblr

In lieu of moving there immediately, a few little prezzies for myself have boosted my home’s hygge factor: some special tea, battery-operated candles that turn on at the same time every night, and one of those ubiquitous Ikea fake sheepskins. I’ve also been making small attempts to be a better listener & be more present in the moment–more mindful, if you will.

AHH. Feeling more zen already.

Further reading: BBC + NYT

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Where my basic bitchez at?

ugg-boots

Confession: I am listening to Dolly Parton and reading a Harlequin romance novel about a librarian titled Love Overdue.

WHAT THE FUCK

(Yes, moooost of my blog post ideas of late are just retreads of the same theme: “OMG I just realized I can stop hating XYZ and repressing myself and just like what I like and stop trying to be a hipster! MIND BLOWN!” Yes, this is another in that vein. I WARNED YOU.)

You know what else I like, other than cheeseball books and the Gilmore Girls soundtrack? PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES. WEARING FLUFFY SLIPPERS. GREY’S ANATOMY. YOU’VE GOT MAIL. LIFETIME MOVIES. TOP 40 CHRISTMAS SONGS.*

All of which makes me want to stab myself in the face.

Continue reading “Where my basic bitchez at?”

rumi: the guesthouse

guesthouse

Turns out Rumi was one cool cat. Evidence: this poem my therapist read me…

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

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Pitch Perfect and attachment theory

I love Pitch Perfect. It has plenty of problems with race. But it also has a cast full of talented, awesome women (Rebel Wilson, pre-Super Fun Night…those were the days), a female writer, and a female producer. And Beca (Anna Kendrick), its main character, has a really refreshing take on relationships.

pitch-perfect-anna-kendrick

attached-bookLet’s back up. Have you read the book Attached (subtitle: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find — And Keep — Love)? Kelly leant it to me a while back and it’s no exaggeration that it changed my life. Basically, the book’s authors use attachment theory to trace how childhood experiences with your parents (did they give you enough love/attention?) shape your adult dating life. To sum it up, which of these three examples from U of Illinois is closest to how you act in relationships?

  1. I get a bit uncomfortable being close to others; it’s hard to trust them completely or allow myself to depend on them. I feel nervous when anyone gets too close.
  2. It’s fairly easy for me to get close to others, and I’m comfortable when we depend on each other. I don’t worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to me.
  3. Love interests are reluctant to get as close as I’d like. I often worry that my partner doesn’t really love me or won’t want to stay with me. I want to get very close to my partner, and this sometimes scares people away.

Continue reading “Pitch Perfect and attachment theory”