Most individuals spend their days tending to the many details required to make life run smoothly. We have chores to do, meals to prepare, kids to guide, jobs to perform, budgets to balance, friends and families vying for attention, and much more. Focus on the mundane is central to the way the majority lives. That is not inherently wrong, it just is.
That being the case, though, most people do not make time to ponder the deeper or more transcendent questions like:
And yet, searching for answers to such questions is essential if we are to find The Good Life.
When you put your mind to these questions, it is safe to say that at some level the answer to each is tied to love. At the beginning of life, love is there. At the end of life, we weigh its impact. And in the days in between, our quality of life rises or falls based upon our ability to grasp it.
A rewarding life is grounded in love.
So, let's pause to consider in basic terms what it means to love. In the midst of mundane moments, can you be a beacon of love? As you prioritize each day's activity, is love on your mind? When difficulties arise in relationships, are you cognizant of the need for love?
On a practical level, love is so much more than a fleeting emotion, but instead it is the foundation for all sorts of qualities like:
In contrast, as you gain insights into the pattern of narcissism, it becomes clear that it is an anti-love way of life. Narcissists are quite enamored with themselves, and they have low levels of empathy for others, which means that their contributions to relationships distract from love's intent.
So, let's compare the words related to love with words associated with narcissism. Surely narcissists know at some level that love is what matters most, and we can presume that they yearn for it just as much as anyone else. Yet, as we identify the traits associated with narcissism, we quickly discover that narcissists truly don't grasp love at all. For instance, they are known for qualities like:
As I consider how narcissists clearly miss the boat, I'm tempted to grab them by the shoulders, shake them, and ask, "What is wrong with you? Don't you see how you are just screwing things up?" Of course, that approach would lead to nothing good, but I do have some questions I'd like to ask. I'm under no illusion that these questions would prompt narcissists to do an about face, but nonetheless, they are in my mind.
What happened in your life that inhibited your capacity, your willingness to love? You must be sitting on a lot of pain, disillusionment, and pessimism. What are you not telling us?
How did you decide that power is more desirable than love? Short-term, you may feel as if that gets you somewhere, but don't you see that people don't like feeling overpowered?
If you're so certain your way of life is the best, why do you stay in a perpetual cover-up mode? Love requires vulnerability. Why does that threaten you so much?
And what's going on with all those secrets and hidden issues? Do you really think you can cover up and rationalize ad infinitum? That must be exhausting.
I know you want to be loved (whatever that word means to you), but do you understand that being admired or adored is not the same as love?
As long as we're on the topic, do you understand that your episodes of giving and being helpful, then expecting favored treatment in return…that's not love. How did you conclude that love is a commodity, something that can be bought?
What do you fear would happen if you stopped telling people how to think, react, and prioritize? Are you afraid of being relegated to the status of irrelevance or insignificance?
Can't you appreciate how others would feel relieved if you acknowledged their freedom to just be who they are? Managed responsibly, freedom is central to the sharing of love. How about it…would you allow me (and others) the privilege of being distinct?
How did you rationalize that coercion is a good strategy for creating loyalty? Do you not see how demeaning that is?
Would you please drop your presumption that you're superior or better than? How about if we start with the idea that we are each unique, yet equal? If that were the case, we would avoid the resentments arising from the problems associated with one person using another for selfish gain. Want to join me?
Your anger tells me that you ache to be known and understood…I can appreciate that. Would you be willing to modulate your method of communication so we could maturely address your emotional ailments? I'm willing if you are.
Would you consider tuning into my feelings, needs, dreams, and preferences? Would you take the chance that if you initiate care, you will receive care? Reciprocal empathy is a proven formula for mutual gratification. Does that make sense to you in any way?
Can we take a closer look at the meaning of words like adequate, enough, and satisfactory? Your insistence for more, more, more is wearing me out. Would you just slow down, exhale, and be thankful for what is good…especially with the simple things?
You seem to shame me easily, and you find fault readily. Have you ever heard of projection? I get the sense that these are matters you have not come to terms with personally. Want to talk about that?
I guess what I'm really asking is this: Would you please remove the mask? All that you stand for is phony, fleeting, damaging, and empty, and love requires authenticity.
Love is more than just a fluffy experience that makes you feel like you've gained short term affirmation. It's bigger than that. Likewise, love is not fickle, something that easily comes and goes. It is tied to an appreciation for qualities like dignity, respect, and civility…traits that have length and depth. Love requires letting go of mandates, coercion, and egotism. Instead, it runs parallel with humility, conscientiousness, and agreeability.
It is true that love is the answer to all sorts of life's questions. It may not seem sufficient to say that love would solve every single issue facing us on a macro level, although I'm willing to bet that it would make a significant impact. In the meantime, my appreciation for the transformative power of love is strong enough that I will try to keep it at the forefront of my exchanges with anyone and everyone.
So, my question to the narcissist or to anyone who would listen is…Will you join me?
To watch the video version of this topic, please click here.
~Dr. Les Carter
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