Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom helps people realize their unique importance. Using my knowledge of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, my experience with therapy, coaching, somatic healing, and personal growth I create products to help you discover, develop, and express the elements of your identity critical to your health and your contribution to our world. My goal is to research, develop, and disseminate these materials so that every individual can reconnect with their uniqueness, realize their passion and purpose, and live the life they were born to live.
Do you know what I mean? I’m not trying to sound harsh, because obviously not EVERYONE sucks at their jobs, but I find myself saying this over and over again in my daily life.
It may be the CEO of the famous social media company that can’t seem to tell the truth nor make good decisions about our privacy or his responsibility.
It maybe the doctor with the horrible bedside manner.
It could just be the asshole at the coffee shop who can’t seem to take your order without insulting you or someone else.
Hell, it could just be the person in Home Depot who, rather than help you find what you’re looking for simply tells you, ‘I don’t work in that department.’
At some point in the not-so-distant past you have had an experience with an employee who not only let you down, but left you wondering how they could possibly still have their job. That is what I’m talking about this week.
It’s a real conundrum, because, like Competition (see Episode 6) which is supposed to regulate free markets (but doesn’t, spoiler alert), there are supposed to be checks and balances that reduce the propensity for people to hold jobs when they do them poorly.
We hear these terms a lot. He’s a narcissist. She’s being codependent. I would guess that these are two of the most common psychological terms used in everyday conversation. And I’d also bet, that many people use these terms very loosely and maybe even inaccurately. Like a lot of things, do we really know what these words mean? I guess as long as we’re all on the same page, or close, it doesn’t matter. So in this episode I use the terms loosely, like I hear them used in casual conversation.
We think of narcissists as being incredibly selfish, obsessed with their looks, and attracted to people who make them feel important. Narcissistic people are generally viewed with disdain and contempt and relationships with narcissists are viewed as unhealthy.
Extreme selfishness is easy to spot when someone bullies or abuses another, but mild narcissism is hard to differentiate. In fact, therapists teach that it is important to ‘put yourself first’ and ‘get your needs met’. So what’s the difference in someone who has a healthy self awareness and someone who is narcissistic?
Similarly, we are taught to have empathy for others and to provide help when we can. It is considered healthy to be of service to your family and community. Being a nurturing person is valued in most cultures, and being a caring person is considered a good quality; especially in a relationship. However, if you care ‘too much’, or let people take advantage of your caring nature, this is considered a fault. How do you know if you have the ‘right amount’ of consideration for others?
The fear is, being too selfish makes you a narcissistic a$$hole and being too nurturing makes you a codependent doormat. Certainly, in relationships these behaviors can intensify toward those endpoints if you’re not careful.
In this episode I share what I learned from my first marriage and the resulting divorce with respect to narcissistic and codependent tendencies, and the combination in relationships.
After my divorce I did some serious soul searching (and therapy) to figure out what happened. I accepted that both parties played a part in the divorce and wanted to understand what happened. Multiple lines of evidence support that my ex-wife became narcissistic and I became codependent. Now, I’m not saying ‘she is narcissistic’ or ‘I am codependent’, but our relationship brought out these personality traits and made them pretty severe. I think many people are affected by narcissistic and/or codependent tendencies, and the combination of the two in a relationship can be detrimental to both parties.
Narcissism is said to be an expression of selfishness, but self care is an important skill. Codependency has been described as prioritizing others’ needs over one’s own, but boundaries are important. While making this Episode I realized that a ‘healthy’ person probably has a little of both characteristics. In other words, a healthy person can practice self care and get their needs met, but also be empathetic towards others and accommodate their needs.
We tend to say or think things like, “He’s a narcissist” or “They’re a codependent’, but it’s probably pretty rare to encounter someone who is entirely one or the other. Sure, there are exceptions out there and I think we’d all agree that an extreme expression toward either condition is not good. At the very least extreme cases of narcissism or codependency we usually don’t want to be around or deal with.
My extreme codependency ended up with me being a door mat. And my ex-wife did end up being pretty narcissistic and self-serving (she had an affair and gaslighted me). But I think it was the combination of personality types in a struggling relationship that brought out the worst in each of us. I don’t really know if she is a narcissist, and I am not a ‘natural codependent’.
Since I can only really speak for myself, I will say I have codependent tendencies. I think this comes from how I grew up, some beliefs I formed as a child, but it’s also a result of my empathetic nature. I tend to have pretty weak boundaries and am very aware of how other people feel. This often leads me to feel like I need to take care of people (and that’s not really a good thing).
I don’t really know what it’s like for narcissistic people, but I can say that I am a bit jealous of people who know how to get their needs met – because I struggle to do that for myself.
I hope you enjoy the episode and get something out of my stories, my experiences, and observations.
If you’ve watched a few KEW Episodes you’ll know I have codependent, people-pleasing tendencies. This week I share what I’ve learned about codependency and narcissism. I’ve spent a decade working on my personal issues, and these two personality ‘situations’ seem to be incredibly common. Maybe some of my stories will help. Here’s a preview: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2500346136935365