Will the Meek Inherit the Earth?

There is a subset of our population who are only out for themselves. They compete rather than collaborate. They are exploitative, envious and arrogant. They feel they are special and entitled – even to that which is yours; and they lack empathy so they don’t understand or care why others don’t like their behavior. They may have narcissistic personality disorder or they may have narcissistic traits. My grandmother would have called them “just plain naughty.” Whatever the label, if you get entangled with one of these lovely people, it can make your life Hell.

Those of us who are nice guys (and gals) are deluding ourselves if we think we can win these people over with loving kindness, for they see it as weakness. But it is equally mistaken to think we must sink to their level or play their game. It builds bad karma and most of us do not have it in us to act that way, (thank Heaven.) Besides if you are a nice guy (or gal,) you certainly cannot win at their game. These people value only those who can help them and respect only those whom they fear.

It is best to avoid or repel these people, but most of us end up bumping up against a narcissistic person on the job, in our families or we discover we’ve been dating one for weeks but couldn’t tell. We all have some degree of narcissism. I have read estimates that around 4% to 20% of the population could be significantly narcissistic. Based on the effects of narcissistic business managers and politicians, I would guess that close to 100% of the population have been victims.

The best way to avoid a narcissist in personal interactions is to be strong and have very healthy boundaries. Just as the way you carry yourself can make you less likely to be victimized on the street, it can make you less appealing to a narcissist. Like a predator on the prowl, the narcissist wants easier prey – someone with self doubts whom they can manipulate or use. Many of us have not been raised to have healthy boundaries and when an exploitative person finds the chink in our armor we are vulnerable. But boundaries can be learned and the anger that results when we have been used or manipulated is a great building block for healthy boundaries.

In fact, as a good gal myself, I believe it is the responsibility of those of us who would play fair, to make it more difficult and unrewarding for the narcissistic among us to pursue their selfish ends. I have watched the narcissists in my life think twice about bothering with someone who is psychically and emotionally strong. I have also seen them back off from me as I learned to manage my thoughts and feelings in ways that make me powerful.

If we are strong and difficult to manipulate, we will condition the selfish among us to behave more like good citizens. Perhaps over time, we could make narcissism a losing proposition!

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