The spiritual opposite of narcissism
One of the biggest questions on my mind last week was how to recognize when a person is headed for the extreme actions committed at Virginia Tech. TIME Magazine gave me some insight in one article of their very tasteful coverage. (I usually wait for the news magazines to arrive before digging deeply into an issue—their slower-than-instant perspective often brings more insight and is less disturbing than being riveted by the TV or Internet.)
The article, Why They Kill, educated me on a state of mind known as "narcissism." As the article states, "[N]arcissism is a condition defined mostly by disablingly low self-esteem, requiring the sufferer to seek almost constant recognition and reward. When the world and the people in it don't respond as they should, narcissists are not just enraged but flat-out mystified." Narcissism can include a total lack of empathy as well, preventing the person from understanding the pain of others.
After reading this, I found myself pondering, what is the spiritual opposite of narcissism? If narcissism is being fixated on yourself to the exclusion of everyone else, what would its opposite be fixated on? If narcissism is thinking you're the center of the universe, what would the opposite central point be?
When I was a little girl (as my family will tell you), I had a definite narcissistic streak. I saw to it that family times revolved around me. I've mentioned before that I was a screamer—there was more to it than that! I was quite the little dickens.
It wasn't until junior high, when I began to sincerely yearn for some friends, that I started to explore gaining some of the social skills needed to acquire them, like listening to others or caring about them. I thought, for a time, that I was supposed to believe everyone else was more important than me in order to gain the love I was seeking. This was a human opposite of narcissism, which you might call an inferiority complex. Obviously, this was unbalanced, too.
It actually took me a long time to figure out what I now think of as a key spiritual point: I'm actually the child of God, with all the stature that heritage implies—and so is everyone else. I'm worthy and precious—and so is everyone else. I'm the pinnacle of God's creation—and so is everyone else. It's because God is so great, that He is capable of crafting each creation of His at the apex of His art. We are all equal in His eyes—and we're all amazing.
To me, that truth is the opposite of the lie of narcissism. People who are fooled into a narcissistic state of mind can break free of it by learning both their own stature as a creation of the Divine and the co-equal status of others.
I wish Cho had known this instead of having to suffer for years with the delusion. I hope and pray that he's finding it out now.
Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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