Overcoming Narcissism

On my highs, I am everyone else is beneath me. There is no one worthy of me. My confidence is so high that it feels like a waste of time to talk to my friends and family.

On the lows, everyone is above me.
My life and everyone in it is so much better than me that I can’t get words out. Afraid to take action. Afraid to be myself.

Nothing has changed except my view of self. And the only reason my view of self has changed, is because I am looking at a metric that is changing. I am comparing myself to different people.

The only time I am content is when I feel like I have accomplished something great or I am hanging around people that I think I am better than. 

This is what I think narcissism is. It’s sometimes called self love. And it’s associated with all sorts of negative traits, including:

  • Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from other people
  • Continually demeaning, bullying and belittling others
  • Exploiting others to achieve personal gain
  • Lack of empathy for the negative impact they have on the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people
  • Fixation on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
  • Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions
  • Need for continual admiration from others
  • Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
  • Intense envy of others, and the belief that others are equally envious of them
So many correlate narcissism to manic depression because of the narcissistic supply. Essentially, as long as a narcissist gets ample praise, they are elevated above everyone else. And I posit that this elevation is what they love. This is where they establish their sense of self.

So as the supply weans, they begin to doubt their superiority. And because their personality is built on that, they fall into depression. If who they are is dependent of feeling like they are better than everyone else, who are they when they don’t? 

Their sense of self is not based on truth, but on praise. And praise ebbs and flows. As does the mental state of a narcissist.
But you see, nothing actually changes in the world. The narcissist is still right where he was before, but he was never where he thought he was.

Thus, the personality cannot be built on others. Or an false elevated view of self. As long as you think that you are better than you are, you are living a false reality. So while in the narcissist’s mind he is deserving of praise, in reality, he is not. So when there is a shortage of praise, they fall into the realm of other people, where they were all along.

To him, it’s a shortage of something deserved. He believes he is better, so he expects additional praise. If the praise is there, he believes he is better. If the praise isn’t there, he starts to doubt his superiority.

The question is whether he is lacking praise or superiority. If he is lacking superiority, he is probably not lacking praise. If he is lacking praise, he is probably not lacking superiority.

If I am the standard, and I compare everyone to myself, of course no one will measure up. But when I realize that I am not the standard, I can see that I am not superior. And if I am not superior, I am not lacking in praise.

Also, if I am the standard I would expect special treatment. You can see where the list of attributes above would follow. 

The solution then, is simple. We need a new standard. A true standard. 

There is only one person I am supposed to compare myself to. And I will always fall short. Everyone falls short. Which makes me equal to everyone else. Always.

I can look at myself and compare myself yesterday to myself today. And in this comparison strive to be better. More like Jesus.

If I stray, I dip below my former self and further away from Jesus. There is no reason to despair, because I am still the same in relation to the standard that I was before.

So I am wedged in between my former self and Jesus, permanently. I can never do anything to eclipse his glory. I am a sinner in need of salvation, just like everyone else. Any gifts I have are not mine, but God’s. Therefore the praise is not mine, but God’s. As I take my proper place between my former self and Jesus, I can be confident that this is where I’ll stay.

Faith Perspective

I’m sure that many of you have been down this road, but wanted to get your opinion on it. Typically, what people are looking for is evidence, and I think we have some great arguments on our side. With my background in science, I was thinking that I actually never empirically verified the value of gravity.

Of course, I know what it is. I’ve plugged it into different equations, but I’ve never ‘discovered’ it. Instead, I do like any other reasonable person would do, and use what’s in the textbook. But by doing this, I make some assumptions:

  1. My brain can gather information about the external world
  2. The book I am reading is true and the value for gravity in the book is correct
  3. The experiments that lead to this constant were done properly.
  4. The conclusions from the experiments done are correct
  5. The scientific community that verified this value was also correct

My point is that I have faith in this value. While no one will discount the value of gravity, no one tests it anymore either. We have faith in a number, and a process.

Confidence + Doubt = 1

Alternate title: Don’t Believe in Yourself

I’ve been trying to put together a post on confidence for several weeks now, but it never seemed complete. I think it was because I never identified its opposite: doubt.

So what is confidence? It’s belief about the certainty of something, based on truth. For instance, if you had never missed a free throw in your life, there would be no reason to believe that the next one you shoot wouldn’t go in. But after you miss one, you may start to doubt.

Confidence + Doubt = 1

Therefore, the higher your confidence in something, the lower your doubt. But the more often you perceive a negative outcome, the more you doubt, and the lower your confidence.

How can you be confident in something when you aren’t very good at it? Knowing exactly where you stand. If your confidence is based on truth, then your expectations of future outcomes would be correct. If I can only make 8 out of 10 free throws in practice, why would I expect more than that of myself in the game? There is no reason to doubt.

But if I slump in a game or in practice, I may start to lose confidence. Or doubt. And as my confidence weens, my doubt grows. 

So how do you overcome doubt and start to believe in yourself again? Practice. It’s the only way. There’s no reason to believe that you’re any better than you are right now. And practice is the only way to get better and to improve the chance of future positive outcomes. Therefore, as you see your stats improve in practice, you can start to expect more out of yourself in real games.

How does this impact my beliefs? If you have an honest view of where you stand and true self-confidence, you know that there is always going to be someone better than you, in any scenario. That should give you enough reason to doubt yourself in almost any situation. So how do you build confidence? Believe in something truer than yourself.

Start with the Bible. What’s true is always true. It doesn’t matter how many times you miss in a row, it’s still true. There’s no slump, no doubting. It doesn’t change, because it is the Truth. And you see, if all outcomes are true, confidence stays at 1. There is no room for doubt. So don’t believe in yourself. Believe in something bigger. 

My Quantum Life: Using Beliefs to Limit Outcomes

We’ve talked about how morals help us gain certainty about the future. They help us narrow our path and gain clarity.

If I look at my life as a set of infinite possible outcomes, how do I limit them? Morals for one. Beliefs for another. If I know what I believe, I can start to accurately predict future outcomes.

If you look at now, and where you think you’ll be in 24-hours, it’s helpful. Because of the last post, you probably won’t be divorced, or gay. You probably won’t be climbing Everest naked. But how do you know for sure? Because you know the logic that runs your mind. To make it to Mount Everest, you would have to make a series of decisions to get there. Decisions that you’ve never made before. And to make decisions that you’ve never made before, you need a reason. And it’s hard to imagine a change in logic drastic enough to take you from the beach to mount Everest in 24-hours.

If you dislike something, there are many fewer instances of it in your future. It’s pretty simple, if you dislike coffee, you have no reason to drink it. Unless you read an article that changes your mind about it. Or your doctor tells you that you should start drinking it.

How do we measure the importance of realities? Obviously, the decision of whether to eat breakfast or not is not as important as whether or not to run out in traffic.

The importance of the decision determines how much weight we give to it. It also determines how much stress we derive from it. The distance in quantum space of the two results [that you’re weighing] determines the level of stress over that decision. Our beliefs set our priorities which determines this stress. We can say that we value family above all else, but if the decisions we make don’t mirror that, it’s not true. 

We determine the value of one decision by weighing it against our priorities. When we look at future realities, to determine the probability we have to look at the decisions that got us to that point, and the weight of those decisions.

If scenarios involve changing your mind, your beliefs, or having a gun to your head, or having the President call to motivate you, that are exceedingly unlikely. If my current truth remains, the likelihood of these events is zero. Because they would involve changing that truth. 

If you’re spending your life in prison, there are no realities where you are free. Ok. There are a couple: you escape, the prison is destroyed, etc. There are some very slim possibilities, but not enough to base your life around. That’s why it’s so scary: all future realities involve you there. There is no reason to dream anymore, not about this life.

No one wants to go to prison. But there are infinite ways that you could go to prison today. If you believe in abiding by the law, you are more than likely safe. Unless the law changes or someone changes your mind about the law.

Here’s the trick: the only outcomes that are actually possible have decisions paths based on beliefs that are all true. If it takes one false to get to that point, it’s an impossibility. Therefore, our path is still infinite, but it’s infinitely narrower because of our beliefs. The more conditional our belief system, the more likely a true can become a false, and the path of potential realities widens.

The width of the path is based only on “both true” scenarios. For instance, whether to go to the grocery now or later. Neither is morally wrong, but you still must make a choice. That’s when your priorities come into play. While they are still based on what you believe, they are how we categorize and rank these “both true” scenarios. You set your priorities whether you believe it or not. So at this point you weigh your options based on your priorities.

So how does faith apply here? First, it gives us the guidance to have moral absolutes. It helps us to walk a straighter path. Second, you have to remember that there are literally infinite ways you could die today. That’s a scary thought. But if you believe that death is not the end, that it’s actually a gateway to a better life.

Therefore, we take the worst possible outcome and replace it with a positive one, a very positive one. Our beliefs hone our potential future into only scenarios that are all true. Our faith transforms the most negative outcomes into gains. If you take away death, the expected value of the system skyrockets. There is literally nothing left to fear.

Carl Jung on Faith and Addiction

Optional reading: I Am an Addict, Applying Faith to Addiction, Void Avoidance

We’ve applied our concept of faith to addiction. But I’m not important. Carl Jung founded analytical psychology. He did all kinds of important work in psychology, philosophy, and other fields. He also worked with Freud to establish the field of psychoanalysis. Straight from Wikipedia:

Jung recommended spirituality as a cure for alcoholism, and he is considered to have had an indirect role in establishing Alcoholics Anonymous. Jung once treated an American patient (Rowland Hazard III), suffering from chronic alcoholism. After working with the patient for some time and achieving no significant progress, Jung told the man that his alcoholic condition was near to hopeless, save only the possibility of a spiritual experience. Jung noted that, occasionally, such experiences had been known to reform alcoholics when all other options had failed.

His work was later used to form the basis of Alcoholics Anonymous. He knew what he was talking about. And he said that religion was sometimes the only cure.


Walk by Faith

Walk by faith and not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:7

For shorthand, let’s define sight as imagining future realities

This would mean to continue on your path by your belief based on knowledge and truth, not by what you imagine about the future. Hopes and fears would both require seeing in this capacity, where you look forward to either a good or bad event.

Faith would be based on truth, while sight is just looking at potential outcomes.

But if our goal is truth, seeing is not how we live the truest lives. If we walk by sight, we are constantly imaging future realities which may or may not be true.

Remember: The truest sight is the present. We can’t be present if we’re worrying about tomorrow or dreaming about what’s next.



Applying Faith to Addiction

Preliminary Reading: I am an Addict

We discussed the nature of addiction in previous posts. The question becomes, is it healthy to be addicted to anything?

As humans, we have needs, but what do we use to fill the inescapable void?

The answer is something that can always be with us, but something that can grow our whole lives without making us unhealthy. We need something that the more we have, the better we get.

But if those things are true, we can’t really be addicted to it. If it can become a part of you, there is no longer an expectation. If now we desire God to be with us all the time, he can do that. He’s been there anyways. So instead of expectation, you’re left with more love than you even asked for. We are forever indebted to somebody that we can never fully repay. We are only asked to love our neighbors as ourselves. And we now know what a huge call to action that is.


Turning Grief into Love

Preliminary Reading: Defining Love and Applying Love to Forever

Grief is when you lose something you love. If love is defined as imagining all future realities with someone, grief would be losing something that you never imagined being apart from. Not because you expected your mother to always live for example, but because the positive parts of her will never be there again for you. So something that you had imagine all future realities including, is now gone. You have a void that will never be filled, depending on what you believe.

If you believe in the afterlife, you could hope to see them again. There would be at least one potential realty where you got to see them again. If you believe that they were going to the same afterlife as you, all potential outcomes involved the two of you together again, so grief becomes hope, becomes faith. And if you have faith that you will spend eternity with this person, you can still love them.

Reality, Truth, and Faith

Reality is now. It’s everything, everywhere, every thought, emotion, or action happening at this moment in time.

Truth is a quality that something is in (or has been in) the set of reality. Anything that is true is part of reality. Anything that is false is not. Truth includes the past and present. The future is only a fear, hope, or expectation, unless you have the gift of prophecy. The future is Shrodinger’s cat. It’s both true and false at the same time, until it happens.

Faith is belief. I have faith that you will ace your test. That means that I believe that you will ace your test. But not out of pure luck, because I know that you know the material. So you cannot have faith in something that you do not believe to be true. Faith is based on knowledge. If what you know rules out said thing from being possibly true, it’s impossible to have faith in that thing. If you are terrible at math and didn’t study or do any homework, how can I have faith that you will do well on your test? I can’t. Faith does not exist outside of truth.

For instance, if you think that science is true, and you think that faith is a set of things that are also true, but that are outside the set of science, that’s not possibly the case. Two things that contradict each other could not possibly be true at the same time. It’s like saying I am wearing a yellow jacket that is red. I believe that if we unravel the shortcomings of science, we could see a happy marriage of faith and science. With the jacket comparison, I’d be wearing a yellow jacket with red stripes.