About Equilibration…

Recent events in my life, and a relative sense of maturity and awareness have forced me to ponder a few things lately.  Yes.  I have been very busy with work, family and friends lately, and I have just been too exhausted to Blog anything of value lately (I thought you might tire of my quips, quotes and quick little notes, so I just quit writing for a few days).  Plus, a rush of mountain air and a hot spa does wonders for the soul and that is reason enough to take some time out.  Enough said.   I miss each and every one of you and when I get a moment this weekend, I will make the rounds and disperse my hugs.

Anyways, about my ponderings.  Ok.  Ponderings = mini intellectual vent.  My apologies if I offend.  Most of you who know me, know I speak with empathy, compassion and love.  And, although I do believe in caring for others, I am of the philosophy that you can only truly do this if you love yourself (humbly) first.

From time to time, through discussions with myself (the ol’ inner dialogue) and friends, I come across a few, very useful and insightful concepts that become rather useful tools for living [the Serendipity-Mobile makes another stop along it’s torturous line].  Lately, the concept of “equilibration” has come up.  Please allow me to explain using a scenario.  Ok.  You have a relatively comfortable lifestyle, a professional career and a passion for life and your family/career.  You are enjoying life, you have a good self esteem and you are feeling great.  Sure you have your problems, but you work through them like a trooper, because that’s what you do.  One of your friends (and everyone has one of these), always seems to be finding ways to drag you down to his/her level because they look at you and perceive that they are somewhat inferior to you (they might have low self-esteem, no direction in life, whatever….) even though you remain humble and rather tolerant of their “seconds.”  After a conversation with this person, you find yourself scratching your head – “Was that a jibe?”  “Was that a wise-crack?”  “What did they mean by that comment?” [I can see you nodding your heads…].

What is this person doing?

Here are my humble thoughts…This person could be doing one of two things for a variety of different reasons.  I’m finding, that at least in my sphere, Narcissism and co-dependence could be a possible reason for this type of behaviour (low self-esteem, no confidence, the need for constant attention, apathy).  Now, it is said that some degree of Narcissism is required for survival in order to perform our biological duties as human beings, but there is a disorder associated with having too much.  Anyways, regardless of whether this person is a Narcissist or not, as a means of relating to you, this person is “Equilibrating” with you.  They want to prove their worth to you at all costs, even if it means hurting you (most often they are struggling with their own self esteem issues and their own “drama”).  So how, in my experience/interpretation is this accomplished?

A.  They “cut you down to size” = they’ll throw you the odd comment that makes “you” question your self-worth, because they are constantly questioning their own value.  Initially, these comments make you feel a little strange, but you can often shake them off, in the hopes that there was some reasonable explanation for them.  These people will also control you by dominating conversations, or they will exclude you from conversations (silence is their weapon).  Over time, the pattern of deprecation becomes obvious to you.  This person leaves you feeling drained and empty.  You feel abused.  If this person is a Narcissist, you will never be good enough for them.  They will slice and dice your self-esteem routinely to control you and keep you in “check”.

and/or

B.  They “try to ‘elevate’ or ’embellish’ their accomplishments/status” = they want to bring themselves up to (or beyond) their perceived level of your accomplishments and worth (in order to elevate their level of self esteem and worth).  They do this by bragging, offering flippant advice and acting like consorts when they really only mean to demean or under-exemplify your value.  They do this in order to offer themselves a false sense of self esteem while they attempt to “tower” over you.

Now, I am not a psychologist, and this explanation is a little over-simplified, but it seems to work for me.  There is probably a psychological term for it, and I apologise for not being able to provide more of a reference to it.  This explanation of mine, is at least one tool that I have in my kit for slicing through human drama.  Fortunately enough, I am developing this relatively perceptive ability to see through human drama to the heart of issues.  It is making me a much freer person and a much better friend to myself and the people that I care about.  Part of the reason for my absence was just that…I was drained from the psychological war-fare that people seem to be inflicting on one another. 

And, a note on Narcissism.  It is a dis-ease (as in “dis” and “ease” – because it makes you uncomfortable).  These relationships are classic.  They make you question your self-worth.  They suck you dry of your energy (and when you are full of life and energy like I am, this is a big concern).  As a result of these interactions (as part of the healing process), you need to take a good, long look at why you allowed yourself to become involved with these types of people in the first place.  Trust me…when you start to surround yourself with people that love and empower you without conditions or contracts, you will see and “feel” the difference.  After experiencing this, there really is only one option…

Love yourself (because you will never make a Narcissist love you in return).

Hugs,

-PM

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9 responses to “About Equilibration…

  1. Hi PM,
    The thing I’ve noticed about people and relationships is that it is always a form of power struggle. Have you noticed when there are two inseparable friends, one is dominant, the other passive?
    Interestingly, it is the passive one who is usually of more worth. The thing about dominance is it is based upon confidence. But it becomes clear to me that the more confident a person appears to be, the more insecure he really is (I’m putting this is man terms ‘cos, if you haven’t noticed, I am one).
    The ‘confidence’ is really a defensive mask to hide his insecurities. But this mask needs ‘validity’, so it constantly has to prove self-esteem by trying to put others down or control them.
    Real confidence comes from not being afraid to explore your insecurities, and to allow them to show now and again.
    Hope I’m making sense here.

  2. Great Post. I’m not sure if it applies but it struck a chord with me as I’ve fallen prey to many of these relationships.

    For years I had this quote posted on the mirrors in my house as a reminder that I am incontrol and I have the power to distance myself from unhealthy relationships: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. –Eleanor Roosevelt.

    These are lessons I have really had to learn in the last 10 years. In my 20’s I began attending ACA meetings, a recovery program for adults whose lives were affected as a result of being raised in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional family. The lessons I learned there were invaluable. Although I still have to remind myself of them due to my co-dependant nature. I have to be very careful who I chose to be friends with, because unfortunately these narcissistic types will always be drawn to us…

    If you don’t mind I’m including the promises that are read at every meeting because I think they apply to all of us.

    1. We will discover our real identities by loving and accepting ourselves.
    2. Our self-esteem will increase as we give ourselves approval on a daily basis.
    3. Fear of authority figures and the need to “people-please” will leave us.
    4. Our ability to share intimacy will grow inside us.
    5. As we face our abandonment issues, we will be attracted by strengths and become more tolerant of weaknesses.
    6. We will enjoy feeling stable, peaceful, and financially secure.
    7. We will learn how to play and have fun in our lives.
    8. We will choose to love people who can love and be responsible
    for themselves.
    9. Healthy boundaries and limits will become easier for us to set.
    10. Fears of failures and success will leave us, as we intuitively make healthier choices.
    11. With our Higher Power’s help, we learn to expect the best and get it.

  3. V and Anthony…Let me first start by saying Thank You for your support and comments here. I was actually a little unsure of how this post would be received (but I knew that I wasn’t the only person affected by people with these types of behaviours so I plowed ahead and shared my feelings and experiences…).

    V – Wow. Thanks so much (I really mean this) for sharing your ACA promises and your story. The promises certainly ring true for all relationships (not just the Co-Dependant ones). Daily affirmations are important to solidify your feelings – I try to make these types of affirmations myself on a regular basis. And you are right – you need to remove yourself from these types of relationships in order to find that solace within yourself. Funny thing too, about relationships…and life in general….one of Buddha’s principle teachings was that “all humans suffer.” If this is the case – why do humans find the need to inflict so much pain upon others when all we need is compassion? I don’t understand it. I can’t understand it…and quite honestly…as you say…will simply cut ties with these people and move on. Love and caring should not “hurt” or “come with a price”. Thanks love. ((((((((((HUGS))))))))))

    Anthony – You make perfect sense. You really do. I do believe that people in co-dependant relationships can both be insecure. The “dominant” type feeds upon the good nature of the the “submissive” type. If the dominant person is Narcissistic (which is usually the case), then they will undoubtedly poison the relationship with those tendencies as well (controlling the relationship in such a manner as to elevate their self esteem/self worth at the cost of the other person in the relationship). The submissive type hungers for attention and will put up with whatever scraps the dominant will give them, until they are left feeling drained and empty.

    In my experience, it is often the submissive type (co-dependant) that seeks help. The Narcissist (of course) doesn’t have a problem (I’m obviously being sarcastic as you know). As a result, they keep preying upon others as all their relationships crumble down around them. They tend to leave quite the wake of destruction in their paths, yes? Anyways, that’s my experience in a nutshell. Sounds like you have a logical grasp of it too (Jung would be all over this….). Thanks Anthony…Thanks for being there.

  4. Muse, I had to turn Pink Floyd OFF to read this post because it was so important and meaningful and I wanted to absorb it completely, and wow – what a well-written and thought provoking post! My son’s dad was a classic narcissist, in addition to having another personality disorder, and the mind games were brutal. V’s affirmations were things I also had to relearn during and after the divorce. He, of course, never saw the need to change at all. I related to you a couple of months ago about the boundaries I had to learn to set with people. But even after all the work I’ve done my own insecurities are still alive and kicking and social situations are harrowing.

    This post was wonderful on several different levels and I’m glad you shared it with us. Being able to recognize the soul-stealer(s) in your life is great, but I imagine it saddens you too, to realize a friend is one of them. So what do you do about it? Like you said, they never see the need to change themselves, so heart-to-hearts aren’t helpful. Do you freeze them out? Stop taking their calls and wait for the inevitible fallout they’ll create with the other members of your circle by gossiping about you? Or maybe that’s not an issue in this case.

    At any rate, you hit the nail quite squarely on the head when you said “…they keep preying upon others as all their relationships crumble down around them. They tend to leave quite the wake of destruction in their paths…” So true! Eventually they do find another person to move on to who isn’t yet savvy to their tactics – and the world has no shortage of them.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re still here with us. I know my world would be missing something if you weren’t in it. You have definitely added a wonderfully delectable layer of marmalede to my life!

    Hi OB! You know, the thought of leaving my space here, never really crossed my mind (to be honest). It’s just that I find it difficult to blog when I have such significant real life situations to deal with (I think Cynosureumbra mentioned that she would rather enter a pit of snakes than blog random things about herself…and I feel that way…somewhat…although I do trust that my friends here in Cyberspace will support me because you know, based on my past behaviour, that I am quite approachable). And, if people don’t agree with what I have to say…quite honestly, they don’t have to read or post comments (plain and simple).

    Anyways, thanks so much for your comments too. That you actually turned your music off to read my post thoroughly, was quite amazing actually. I understand, based on your past history, that co-dependance has become part of your life as well (past and from the sounds of it…present). It also makes you feel like a recovering alcoholic – you always are an alcoholic waiting to fall off the wagon…just like you are always a co-dependant waiting to nurture soul-suckers. Unfortunately, I have a few of these relationships in my life right now. I just realised that they are indeed the type of relationship that I described in my post.

    As you noted…it becomes really important to establish boundaries with these people – and realise that no matter how great they can be in so many other ways…they will likely never change (so cut your losses and stop trying). I used to think that these types of people would change, but they won’t….and if you hold on long enough to try, you will be burned and chastised in the process. To these people you will always sit at both ends of the spectrum with them…they will “love to hate you”. You will be their “everything” and their “nothing” all at the same time. Quite honestly, the best way to get rid of these individuals is to starve them of attention (in much the same manner as they starve you)…without “supply”, they will simply move on…albeit to another poor soul (as you noted) that is unaware of their detrimental patterns.

    You know OB. You are a doll. I am so happy to have you in my life. You are the zip in my marmalade girl…and I love you…((((((HUGS))))))

  5. Perhaps the people you speak of did not have a personality disorder. By this I mean, NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) although they had narcissistic characteristics. Wikipedia has this to say about it:

    “Some sources suggest that narcissistic personality disorder may be an infantile, defensive personality structure in response to abuse and trauma, usually developing in early childhood or early adolescence. They suggest that narcissistic personality disorder may be a maladaptive defense of the abused child’s or adolescent’s emotional splitting, resultant cognitive distortions, and negative/hostile worldview.[citation needed]

    Some think that caregiver deprivation at approximately 36 months of age is a major risk factor for the later development of this disorder.[citation needed] Conversely, some theories suggest that the disorder can manifest itself in people who have been over-indulged and doted on by their parents.”

    Now, my ex-fiance is not only INTP (rare in itself) but also has NPD–which he didn’t discover until we were already engaged. In your post under ‘What is this person doing,” you state this person wants to prove their worth to you at all costs even if it hurts you. From my experience however, this does not sound like narcissism but rather just low self-esteem. With a person with NPD, it is never about you. It is all about them and what is going on inside their heads.

    At the core of NPD is an intense self-hatred and in so their goal is not to convince others but really to convince themselves–they are their own worst critic. They do not try to prove their worth to you because deep down they do not think they possess worth.

    What you describe in this post then, is more of a one-on-one relationship whereas Narcissists do not care about the individual and do not want anyone to really know them. They care only about the opinions of those they deem worthy. Now, if this person is extremely intelligent, the individuals they deem worthy will be few. Otherwise, they just don’t care what people think.

    My ex-fiance for example is extremely bright and quite arrogant which are major reasons I was so attracted to him. It has always been important for me to have a partner that matches or surpasses me intellectually. I did not think that his arrogance was uncalled for. He had plenty of reasons to deem himself superior to most people.

    Therefore, it seems to me that you are not describing a person that is narcissistic but rather a person that simply has low self-esteem and attempts to deal with it in a dominant and sadistic manner. Because of this, they want your adoration. A true narcissist would deem themselves better than you and so won’t care what you think. They certainly would not go out of their way and inconvenience themselves for your approval if that were the case. They would not even try to dominate you because they think you are beneath them.

    In the end, my ex-fiance’s esteem of me dwindled which led to rather caustic remarks. The remarks were a result of apathy and not because his intent was to hurt, although he did not care if he did. My relationship with him did not make me question my self-worth. In fact, quite the contrary. On the other hand, I have never been the submissive type.

    The part of your post I definitely agree with, is the part about loving yourself. Interestingly, I notice you use the word ‘humbly’ in parenthesis at the beginning, whereas I personally neither believe in humility nor find it useful. In the search for ultimate truth, humility is counterproductive for it requires one to downplay a particular subject instead of truly, confidently and unapologetically, acknowledging its actual value.

    Thanks for your comments and analysis. Unlike some individuals in Cyberspace, I do not divulge all of the information from my real life and translate that into my writing. With that said, there is much, much more to offer in terms of relative discussion (and I will not discuss the particulars here or in any other correspondence) suggesting that I am perhaps dealing with people that are either Narcissists or Co-dependants (I have read the literature and understand it to explain some of this behaviour). As I mentioned in my post, I deliberately noted that “I am not a psychologist” and that I am interpreting my observations based on experience and feeling. Thus, it’s a little unreasonable, given the lack of information to downplay the potential role that NPD has in some of these scenarios.

    By the way, NPD’s vary from cerebral to somatic. They are adaptive. The cerebral ones are very intelligent. They are pathological liars and want you to believe what they want you to believe. Their self esteem is high, but fragile…thus they are prone to periods of self-doubt and depression, as are people with low self esteem. And, sadism and dominance can come into play when these NPD individuals (Malignant NPDs) chastise the very individuals that they love (as a form of projective indentification – so they can mirror their deranged mental state in that of their “victim”). And, honestly, the notion of submissive and dominance really is irrelevant in some of these cases anyways (at least in my experience). People with NPD are smart, they decide (based on their “all-knowing assumptions” whether or not you are dominant or submissive to them) and they know how to play their cards right just to manipulate you (unless you are a stone and have never fallen victim to sweet-talking). I cringe at the thought of the concept of dominant and submissive because it connotes inequality in relationships. Quite simply, if you cannot establish proper boundaries for yourself in your relationships (I am speaking of myself here)…it is about just that…not respecting yourself.

    On the topic of humility – since it was brought up…At least in my journey of discovery, it is less about sounding unapologetic and non-noteworthy than it is about sounding arrogant and a purveyor of the Universe. As much as I find humour in labelling myself an INTP personality, I am much more than an alphabetical acronym (as much as I believe the description fits). Part of my spiritual evolution has been just that…accepting that I need to be a humble person to find virtue, truth and knowledge. An arrogant mind is a closed mind. The Buddhist path teaches just that…please allow me this quote:

    “More than anything else, Dharma school teachers themselves must learn to be humble; they must learn to gain insight into the pettiness of their being and have deep respect for the Dharma. If Dharma school teachers simply attempt to teach ideas and concepts to children, they fail to be good teachers. But if they can manifest humility, deep respect for the Dharma, they are good teachers. Children will eventually forget most of the ideas and concepts that their teachers have taught them, but they will remember the humble attitude and respect that they have seen in their teachers.”

    Knowledge without humility, awe and respect is useless.

    Namaste

  6. During one of your responses, I noticed that you said I mentioned I would prefer to jump into a pit of snakes than reveal random thoughts to people. That is not entirely accurate. Whilst I do believe that revealing oneself to any random person that comes a long is illogical for the simple reason that them being strangers means they have not earned the right to know anything about me, it has very little to do with fear.

    We have different purposes for our blogs. Your seems to be very much about creating a community, whereas mine is only for myself. The less people reading my blog, the better. I see many bloggers obsessed by how many are reading their entries. I on the other hand, am more interested in quality than quantity.

    Regarding your take on humility and your mention of arrogance, the following is the definition of arrogance I was going by.

    Arrogance:
    –noun
    1) offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.
    2) overbearing pride evidenced by a superior manner toward inferiors

    I would say that for the most part, that definition fits me. I in no way believe that all humans are the same. Some are quite clearly superior than others and most are inferior. I am agnostic. I read the first two months of your blog and recall seeing you mention you are Catholic so it is interesting that you use Buddhist quotes.

    Of the world religions, I like Buddhism the most. I tend to agree with many of the teachings all the while clearly disagreeing with the concept of humility as you’ve not doubt discovered. One need not consider one’s being as petty in order to have deep respect for that which we deem worthy. I would say that to consider oneself petty is a gross understatement. In this world, it is all about humans. It is such a vast universe and we are so alone. While some may conclude then that this makes us petty, I believe it doesn’t make us anything at all.

    The universe has no opinion. The universe is unfeeling and uncaring. People live and die and it is all the same. Life is only worthy because we observe and perceive it to be. In actuality, it is neither worthy nor petty. It just IS.

    I do not believe in God therefore neither respect nor disrespect it. However, I believe in the existence of the universe and have a deep fascination and admiration for complexity. Humility requires that you project a demeaned sense of self unto what you see. I feel no need to do so. I am quite content simply observing. Therefore I see humility not simply as unnecessary but also detrimental.

    Knowledge itself is meaningless. It is what we do with it that matters. It is possible to have awe and respect for a certain type of knowledge and do absolutely nothing with it.

    Hi There. The comment re: pit of snakes was in referral to this comment made by yourself: “I’ll stop by your blog when I can. It is nice to see someone else matching my post lengths. I tend to have problems finishing things. It is why I asked if you planned to keep with your blog. This is my first blog. In the past, I would have preferred to swim in a pit full of snakes than reveal personal things to random people.” If I misconstrued this to mean that you had an inherent fear of blogging, my apologies.

    Secondly, you provided a definition for arrogance as opposed to humility. I find that rather interesting. I also find it interesting that you think the definition suits you. I am not an arrogant person, and I do not see myself as superior to others (regardless of my abilities or inabilities). I am not a Vulcan with a mechanistic view of the world. Although I am Catholic, I find value in the teachings of many world religions (the precepts are quite similar when you delve into the fundamental aspects of these teaching and are valuable as such) and feel as though I can benefit from their teachings. Considering that you mentioned that you are agnostic, I find it interesting that you find agreement in Buddhist teachings. It is also worthy to note that Buddhism (Mahayana Sutras in particular) also teaches that we are all capable of being our own Buddhas in our search for Dharma and that Buddha is god of gods and progenitor of all universes). This is not agnostic thought. Consider this, when you are picking through your selected bits of Buddhist text.

    Also, we are all entitled to our opinions about this entity called the Universe. If I could ask the Universe if it was unfeeling and uncaring, I would, but I can’t. Thus I am left to muddle my way about my life, looking for the most meaningful way to live. By the way…the definition of Universe that we generally tend to use in this community relates to spiritualism (where we blog, in part, about our spiritual journies is that of supreme elevation, the cosmos, peace and understanding). We are not simply discussing Newtonian and Einsteinian physics and relativity (with this definition of the Universe) at least here in this community. There is a spiritual connotation to the definition of the Universe as used in my blog and it finds its roots in Hebrew Qaballah (at least my definition does anyways…).

    Thus, anyone’s view of the Universe is simply that – an opinion. We all chose to move through the Universe in our own way…and we are entitled to that (obviously bound by social laws and governance). In my experience, I believe that the Universe is a responsive entity composed of energy and light, matter and anti-matter. It is considered the ultimate destination for spiritual growth because it represents the ultimate Divine connection (in a spiritualistic sense). I still feel a wholeness and connection to the Universe as a result of my very physical existence. Since I feel part of this energy, as a sentient, compassionate being, I chose to channel this energy in a positive way (for healing purposes mainly). This does not make me anymore anthropocentric than you if you chose to simply observe. That is your choice.

    Personally, I ascribe to a more humane version of the Universe (we are speaking of the Universe as the ultimate aspiration) – because I can, because I believe that it will make me a better person. And, if I try to be a better person, I hope that I can have a positive effect on others. So, even if the Universe didn’t give one hoot that I was trying to be a better person for the sake of my community (your definition of the Universe as an indifferent spectra), would I discontinue my efforts to try to understand my role in it? Would I simply sit back and observe everything? Would I watch people in my community go hungry and say “Oh well, that’s the will of the Universe…Who cares?” No. That is not my nature. I am an active role model in my community and believe that I am somewhat obligated to leave this world a slightly better place than when I came into it. This is not an egotistical view, it is a humanitarian one. I believe that we are speaking of two, entirely different entities here. Your Universe is a much different place than mine. Your Universe compels you to observe, and mine compels me to continue along my spiritual path.

  7. Call those people what you will, the terms don’t really matter to me anyway. I just simply call them emotional vampires.

    I’ve recently cut ties with a very dear friend since no amount of talking could get through to her that we didn’t have to thoroughly understand each other – that we could disagree with out being disagreeable. I was going to write a post about narcissism recently since this thing with this woman but decided not to and you’ve really done this subject justice.

    Just a note about Buddhism:

    http://www.buddhanet.net/nutshell03.htm

    Peace, love and understanding and special hugs for you PM.

    Joy to the world. 🙂

    You are right Ruby. Emotional vampire is actually a good term for these types of people. Like you, I formulate the concept that my friends and I can have our own opinions…we can agree to disagree but still respect each other. I have a problem when people start to transfer their issues onto me…and in doing so, attempt to manipulate and control the friendship. Boundaries are great, but sometimes, we must come to the realisation that some friendships were just not meant to be (and often times, when this happens one or two of the friends have grown beyond each other anyways and have exhausted the usefulness of the friendship). Yet, with that said, I do have many special friends that I have remained in contact with for many years…because of a special connection and understanding.

    Thanks for the note on Buddhism.

    Hugs back to you Roobs. You are a great friend.

    Love,

    PM

  8. I’m sorry, but *your* comment was not posted today, because I am unsure of your intention for writing it. As much as I am humoured by a healthy sense of intellectualism, I have no intention of turning this blog into a sounding board of rhetorical opinion and debate (I hope you understand this…). Thank you for the enlightening comments you provided thus far. I wish you luck and favour in your future blogging endeavours.

  9. Wow! Look at all I miss when I don’t go back an re-read threads. Very elequently stated PM. You have grace and class and a very big heart.
    Sending your much appreciated hugs right back at you!

    Aw shucks V. Love ya girl…

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