I’m prepping for a narcissism discussion with the organization i Understand and spent time traveling back down memory lane. I’m surprised by the sheer volume of insanity. It’s eye-opening to recall these past narcissistic stories. Narcissism really is a tricky mental health pattern of behaviors. As I took notes, I recognized an old familiar feeling. Craziness. My mind was racing. I felt agitated and obsessive. It took me another hour to realize what was happening, that addictive connection had shown up.
Drama is addictive. Chaos is addictive. If narcissistic behavior is anything, it’s drama and chaos. As I thought of the past, I became a bit obsessively curious. Wonder what this person is doing, when was the last time I looked so and so up online? Whatever happened to what’s their face?
I couldn’t deny a feeling of almost drunkenness. I quickly gave myself a Meditation Timeout and got my mind quieted. The reminder of that addictive feeling is helpful. A client the other day was talking about someone in her life who is very narcissistic. She said, “I would never be allowed to do that.” My mind screamed, “You are a Grown Woman … What do you mean ALLOWED?” My coach-self repeated her language back to her gently. Narcissistic manipulation only works when we feel like we don’t have control. We feel that the narcissistic person has more power. While it’s true that I’m the only one who decides who has power over me … that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt powerlessly pulled to the fast food drive-thru when my blood sugar was low. It’s one of the classic 12 steps in addiction recovery. ‘I admitted I was powerless.’ When I’ve been a part of an addiction connection, it’s been when I was feeling very vulnerable.
Plus, narcissistic behavior is game like. If you’re the target of someone’s narcissistic behavior, you’re trying to guess their next move. Planning strategy. If it’s your boss and they ask you to complete a crazy task, you might gauge whether this task will be one they forget all about. Or if you should at least look like you tried to complete it. Whenever suspense is involved, it feels addictive. Or what’s worse is when things are too quiet around someone known to create drama … those moments can be more stressful than the actual chaos. That’s when you’re walking on eggshells. That eggshell feeling is stressful adrenaline creating that addictive connection for your brain that makes drama feel normal and quiet times feel uncomfortable. Games are addictive. Have you ever uninstalled a game app from your phone?
And lastly, humans like drama. Hello “reality” tv shows. Some of these shows even serve contestants large amounts of alcohol for added chaos. How many of you never miss a season of The Bachelor? We like drama. We call our friends and recount insanity. ‘You will never believe this’ is the greatest beginning of any story. Not all drama is unhealthy but living in a constant state of chaos can be bad for our health.
So, what can you do? First, recognize when you might find yourself high on drama. Is it healthy or is it causing you harm? Is a narcissistic person contributing and creating an addictive connection in your brain? What actions can you take to disengage from that addictive connection? Build and maintain good boundaries. Never do anything that goes against your values or makes you feel powerless.
Once we see the addiction connection, we have control over our behavior, reducing the effects of narcissistic behavior targeted at us. We take our power back. It’s a process though, it takes practice to exercise good boundaries. So be gentle with yourself.
What do you think about this idea of addiction and narcissism? Does this resonate for you? As always, thank you for reading and remember, we all learn from each other. Please consider sharing your perspectives in the comments.
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Events: Coach Jen is honored to be partnering with i Understand to lead a Discussion on Narcissism. Join on Tuesday, January 21st – 6:30 – 8:00pm at the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan with i understand. This is free discussion, register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/living-with-a-narcissist-careg…
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