Whenever we are on a first date, we usually worry way too much about how we are dressed, what we say, how we behave and the like. Quite frequently, we are not anything like our normal self, as we are trying to make a really good impression on the subject of our affection. In fact, we try so hard that we end up looking a bit goofy and silly at best. So who has the time to scan the person sitting across the table for potential signs that he is a narcissist, right?
Well, luckily, it is really not that difficult to spot a narcissist in any social setting, and even less so if we are on a date with him. The first likely sign that you are going out with a narcissist is that he chooses the most expensive and trendy restaurant in the city, even if the food there is not necessarily the best. What matters is that your are dining in the most expensive place in town. Second sign: he will probably pick you up in his very expensive car, which will be extremely clean, so you will potentially be asked to dust off your shoes before getting in the car. Sign number three: he will be better dressed than you are. Narcissists look like they just got off a photo shoot for a glam magazine, especially if they are on a mission to impress you. Sign number four: he will behave like a true gentleman from the moment he rings at your door to the moment you sit at the table. He will open the door for you, take your coat, gallantly walk behind you as he leads you to your table, his hand resting on your lower back. Sign number five: he will make sure you make an entrance when you walk in the restaurant because he wants all his friends and colleagues – who will undoubtedly be dining there, at least some of them – to see you, the trophy date he is taking to dinner. Sign number six: he will choose your food and wine. When he will engage in a conversation with the waiter, you will have the impression that he really knows what he is talking about as he explains just how the steak should be done and why that particular vintage is much better than the other one for the wine he selected. Sign number seven: he will be charming, expressing interest in you, seductive, flirting and making you feel special. Even so, if we move on to sign number eight: he will dominate the conversation. Even when he asks you to say something about yourself, he will steer the conversation back to him. The whole evening will be about him. Sign number nine: you will go home feeling on cloud nine as you believe you have spent the most magnificent evening of your life. Sign number ten: when you wake up the following day, you’re already yearning for him. You’re hooked.
Not every narcissist is the same, some are more toxic than others. However, the first ideal date we had with him is no indication that the honeymoon will last. Sadly, the contrary happens more often than not. Being in a relationship with a narcissist is hard work and if you think that the prince charming from your first date will be making a regular appearance, you are unfortunately mistaken. Unless you make some changes about yourself and about your expectations of him, you will be regularly disappointed.
Fear is one of those double-edged swords. If we fear our life might be endangered, the fight-flight-freeze reaction sets in precisely because of fear, which is good as it helps us deal with menacing circumstances. Each of the reactions has its own consequences, of course, some more favorable and others less so. Fear also causes us to be more cautious and not run headlong into a difficult situation. But what happens when fear is used as an unconscious excuse not to do something?
Off the cuff I would say that fear is something that prevents us from moving on, from taking a risk, from daring to be a little different, from having the courage to try something new, from leaving a toxic relationship, from being who we truly are, from expressing our wishes and needs. The list could go on and on.
What do we fear most? What other people will say. Will they find me worthy or good enough? Will they still like me? Will they criticise or shun me? Have you ever noticed just how much influence what potentially others might think has on what we say or do? Being judged by others, even if complete strangers, is the one thing we are most terrified of today, because every troll can say whatever they want online without having the guts to debate it with us, without presenting proper argumentation.
Then there is fear of failure, that is again related to what others will say. While we can get over the fact, with quite some pain and trouble, that we have not succeeded at something or experienced a total failure, our environment will most likely not let us forget it. In fact, many will revel in our loss and sorrow.
What about the fear of being left alone and lonely? Why do we continue to cling to unhealthy relationships and to people who bring us nothing but pain? Because we fear that we will be left alone, that we will never find anyone new, someone who will like us for who we are.
Fear is what paralyzes us and prevents us from moving on, from taking on a constructive risk, even when we know that we should be taking it. The fear of what ifs is the worst of all because we refuse to act out of fear of the unknown. Also, in a relationship with a narcissist, they make sure we are afraid all the time, that we are insecure all the time, doubting our own sanity.
But in the end, fear is what prevents us from leading a full life, a life in line with our own wishes and desires. Being afraid means surrendering control of our life to someone else. It means giving up our power. It is much worse to live in constant fear than to take the risk that something magical could happen. It might not, not at first, but at least we would have tried. Don’t let others intimidate you because of their own insecurities. Be brave, take the risk, assume the responsibility, move on, be happy!
Self-worth is one of those buzz words we stumble upon in inspirational speeches and magazine articles that prophesize “know your self-worth and the world will lay at your feet.” Knowing your worth is certainly something very positive and absolutely essential if you want to lead a stable, serene life. But how can you know what it is if you have never been taught?
Many of us feel that we are not good enough, either because we have never been told that we are or because we have never learned how to feel good enough. Our own sense of self-worth is conditioned by and dependent on the external factors. Hence, if we are good enough or not depends on what other people think about us. Which is terrible, because we will always be striving to please everyone but ourselves. We will not be living our lives in line with our true self.
The sense of self-worth is something we usually acquire in our primary family when we are growing up. If our parents, mothers especially, never showed us that we matter, that we are worthy of love, attention, devotion and protection, then it is difficult for us to believe in ourselves and in our own importance.
We don’t get a sense of self-worth simply by deciding that we are worthy. Yes, it is a necessary step in the process, but it doesn’t suffice by itself. Unfortunately, more than that is needed. Accepting it at a cognitive level doesn’t guarantee that we will fell it at an emotional level, where it matters the most.
What does it mean to know your self-worth? First of all, you need to feel it in your gut that you are good enough as a person, that you are worthy of love and respect. Self-worth is related to the essence of who you are. When you feel self-worth you know your value. You are not swayed by other people’s opinions. You don’t compromise at your expense. You know how to set boundaries and stick to them. You know who you are and what you want and what is acceptable to you. You don’t yield under pressure when your values and beliefs are put to the test, just to please others. When you know your self-worth, you don’t tolerate what is not acceptable to you.
Feeling worthy is not the same as being haughty, arrogant, conceited, condescending and the like. When you know your self-worth, such defensive behavior is no longer needed. You can insist on the “my way or the highway” on issues that matter most to you, and walk away with your head held up high regardless of what others think. You’re proud of yourself and know your own mind. You don’t question yourself and you don’t regret the decisions you have made. Once you achieve that, you’re practically invincible.
“If we want to change the world, we need to talk about the elephant in the room. That is why I love real people who say what they mean and mean what they say. No fluff, no lies and no pretence.”