People tend to become their parents.
So, while I've been the victim of narcissistic abuse as a kid, I must stay ever aware of my Jungian shadow, which has that element of the dark triad within it, as well. I'm too self-reflective to have been diagnosed with the full-blown disorder; though, I'll admit forthrightly that I have some narcissistic traits that inhibit me from accomplishing my goals.
Here's a video from my marketing firm that touches on my experience:
What counter-intuitively ended up being a good thing was my first publishing of Fighting for Redemption, the very first version, no longer on the market. Why? Because the ugliness of my tumor-exacerbated shadow was on full display in the way the book was written.
When I published it, I received a wave of criticism: Some of it was warranted; some of it wasn't. The criticism that wasn't came from genuinely malicious from people from my past who knew how to hurt me, rather than seeing a wounded person who was struggling that they could help.
In the bird's eye view, though, looking back on everything, it didn't really matter whether a person was malicious in their criticism or not; what mattered is that I did, indeed, put myself out there. By exposing the ugliest part of myself to the light of the world, I was able to become self-aware. By becoming self-aware, I was able to individuate with my shadow. By individuating with my shadow, I was able to get somewhere real in life through self-development.
I was able to become a better person, even if it's taken baby steps to do so.
I just had to make it through the emotional turmoil that was the process, to overcome suicidal depression, massive embarrassment, and go deep into the source of why I had the weaknesses to my character that I did.
Attention is like a drug; the neurotransmitters it elicits are euphoric. However, there's a social stigma attached to attention-seeking behavior that isn't totally logical. For instance, what are industry influencers and celebrities if not people who are professional attention-seekers? They attract people's attention in waves; this makes them natural billboards with the potential for great profit. Movie stars, social media influencers, politicians, etc. may often not be the most likable characters of our world; yet, they are critical elements of it, and they wouldn't be able to continue existing if there wasn't market demand for them.
Attention is a critical element of raising a healthy child. There was a story I've once read about (though, I can't remember where from) about experiments the Nazi scientists used to perform during WWII. In one of their cruel (yet fruitful) experiments, I heard that they deprived a newborn completely of attention. They made sure that all of its nutrients were there; everything the baby technically needed to survive in theory was provided. They just wanted to see what would happen when they'd deprive the baby of attention.
...the baby died.
So, attention in and of itself is a natural part of life. It's not attention that's bad, nor is it the act of seeking attention.
...it's the way one goes about it that is the problem, how much they need, and for what purpose.
For instance, it's fine if a person is motivated by attention if the way they'd like to earn it is by curing cancer. Curing cancer would bring you waves of attention, without a doubt. You'd go down in history. You'd get more attention than any singular human being could probably ask for...in exchange for something you did that genuinely helped humanity in an immeasurable way.
Personally, I have zero problem with that; the ancients had a name for that kind of attention-seeking: glory.
The pursuit of glory is as old as recorded time itself.
However, there's a difference between going on a hero's journey to earn glory at great risk and sacrifice in an honest manner, and being a willful disrupter who can't or won't earn it.
I've worn both shoes at different times in my life, as I've wrestled with my mind with the genuine intent to become a better person. It's not been easy, and every new major accomplishment I've achieved has directly coincided with a new and deeper level of my own pain that I've been able to face and overcome through self-reflection.
Therein begs the question, from whence cometh my pain?
Some of it is genetic; some of it is environmental. It's a combination of both.
I can't blame my parent(s) for everything, just quite a bit pertaining to specific actions they took at different times that heavily scarred me (such as locking me in a closet with a spider I was terrified of, among others).
A combination of horrific experiences, multiplied by inhibitory genetic memory pertaining to slave evolutionary psychology have made for considerable hurdles for me to continually overcome.
Therein, as I've moved in baby steps, like a drug addict would decrease their dosage and type of drug use to something progressively mild until their nervous system could take being totally clean again, I've had to manage the kind of attention I'd seek.
As I've written before, people like me need to write, if not for other people than simply to face the literary mirror of my own mind. The process of thinking, writing, reviewing, and revising my own thoughts is in and of itself a form of meditative reflection that helps me to face the past and heal.
As I heal, I'm able to take greater steps onto higher levels of success through self-actualization.
This is why I was on Facebook for several years, writing the way that I was. It wasn't all for attention, but part of it was. Undeniably.
It's well-documented how addicting the validation that comes with people's reactions to posts are. For some, that's the extent of where they get hooked and sucked in by the void of social media. For me? It was a transitory phase to something better; hence, the gradual decline in posting and eventual shutdown of my entire, personal, public page, itself.
What helps me to gain the willpower to go into deeper levels of healing is my own personal hero's journey. I may not be a hero of the world in the ancient Greco-Roman sense, but I am a hero of my household, and it is because I need to be there for people who depend on me, people that I love and care about far more than I do myself, that I have to reach deep down, sacrifice of myself, and do whatever I need to do to reach the next level not for myself, but for them.
The reason why I want to do this is to give them a better life than I had. And the reason why I want to give them a better life than I had is because I care about and love this world, despite how dark of a character I can actually seem to be: By giving my children a better life, may they grow into better people. By growing into better people, may they make the world a better place by living in it.
This is not the same thing as me striving to live vicariously through my children, though; that's a form of narcissistic parenting. All are potential pitfalls that I should be constantly aware of, to become the best parent (and thus person) I can be, despite my scarring.
So, it's not actually narcissism that is the struggle. Narcissism, in my specific case, is an externality, a symptom, not the source. The real struggle I face pertains to the multitude of wounds inflicted upon my soul as a child that still hurt every day, and finding the strength to keep going despite them.
Because if I fail my family, if I fail my people, then a great hope is lost.
Mike Norton is an American award-winning Internet marketing strategist with a BA in Internet marketing from Full Sail University.
He’s also a writer, entrepreneur, and a quantum physicist studying part-time at the University of York. He is the bestselling independent author of Fighting for Redemption, and a veteran of the United States military who is a 7-time winner of the USS Dwight Eisenhower award for essays of world peace and respect.
As a mostly self-educated vagabond, he gains inspiration from a myriad of experiences wrought from the adventures of his nomadic lifestyle. He prolifically writes and journals where ever he goes in the world, from one country to the next.