Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Can a narcissist be nice?
Can a narcissist be charming?
Do narcissists have redeeming qualities, talents, skills, abilities?
Sure, they do.
Can narcissists work?
Absolutely. They can work very very hard!
There are tremendous differences between “acting nice,” turning on the charm and intentionally applying your skills, knowledge and abilities to manipulate attention, adulation, power, control, to feed your false or less than intact ego and fill gaps in your broken psyche and to serve only yourself and authentically being nice, generous, compassionate, loving, and honest, and working hard to bring value to others and to your own self that builds one’s personal character.
The Roles of Work and Obligation in Emotional Health and Building Character
Now, of course, we all have to act sometimes and exhibit “our best behaviors” but we typically do so for healthy and temporary reasons such as to make a first impression (that the recipient is expecting) and not just to benefit ourselves.
When Do Work and Commitment Dynamics Become Unhealthy?
Life and relationships, in particular, require a balance of work, commitment, and obligation. It is when this balance of give and take becomes “tipped” that things can become unhealthy. The more tipped the balance, the more unhealthy the situation can become. Think about this. Isn’t it always when someone is giving too much and putting in the extraordinary effort or someone is taking too much and not putting in the work (and especially over a long period of time) that things get crazy, stressful, exploitive, abusive, unpleasant, or just plain suck?
Because, we are not benefiting from the investment of our time, energy, pain, love, effort, education we are expending for what we are working for. Our efforts and our value are never validated. What we believe to be true about ourselves is not validated and what we aspire to never happens so our personal truth and personal worth are never “proved.”
We just get…well… depleted, bored, unfulfilled, emotionally fatigued, depressed, sad, exhausted from being strong for too long and not benefiting from the effort and from chronic disappointment. Our souls starve for emotional nourishment we need to sustain us. Our self-worth and self-assuredness plummet.
Narcissists’ Dysfunctional Views on Work and Obligation
So if you think a narcissist loves you and your children, think again!
Dr. Simon’s research also verifies that narcissists can work very hard and can spend inordinate amounts time and energy working purely to get something they want. As most of us very well know, they can put in extraordinary efforts to groom and love bomb a potential mate or spouse. But putting the same amount of energy into finding or keeping a legitimate job, a personal relationship. taking care of a sick family member, demonstrating the loyalty and consistency necessary to be considered for advancement, or making the investment in personal self-development to merit consideration for more advanced positions are completely different matters and very unattractive enterprises to them. They want all the benefits of marriage, for example, without having to work for them or earn them!
Dr. Simon emphasizes that narcissists resist working to become better human beings more than any other kind of work. So even when it comes to respect and love and admiration, they want to come by them in the same manner as everything else – without having to earn them.
And guess what folks? How do we build integrity of character? You got it! By earning it through hard work to set goals, make a plan to achieve them, being successful, and learning lessons through mistakes we make along the way.
And as a result, the characters of the disordered do not mature or develop. The normal human desire to work for those things to improve themselves are lacking. So they remain “deficient” humans with questionable to poor characters to even criminal ones who manipulate from the truly good people what they need to sustain themselves. In essence, they are and remain human parasites.
Dysfunctional Work and Commitment Dynamics in Abusive Relationships
We can especially see these dysfunctional and very harmful dynamics at play in abusive and power imbalanced relationships with narcissists where the balance of give and take that fuels normal human existence becomes severely skewed. The abusers are the only ones who are benefitting while their victims do all the work and suffer endlessly. The victims become pain-addicted and trauma-bonded. Chronic exploitation leads to chronic emotional pain and trauma, overtaxing of our pain-based emotional mechanisms. The victims are stuck in “hamster wheel relationships” that go nowhere and get nothing back in return for their extreme investments of pain and energy. They become depleted and emotionally fatigued, depressed, and traumatized.
The extreme and long-term imbalance of power and chronic invalidation are the core to the damage from abusive relationship fueled by wounded thinking and beliefs carried from survivors of childhood abuse. I explore these in great depth along with effective ways to deal with them in my book Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors and in many other articles in the Yourlifelifter Blog.
Dysfunctional Work and Commitment Obligations in “Good Deed” Organizations
Kathy Krajco, a formidable pioneer in educating the world on narcissism and narcissistic abuse, describes in What Makes Narcissists Tick how the “helping professions” that supply an abundance of vulnerable prey attract pathological narcissists. Kathy cautions us to “think not only of vulnerable children in the case of teachers but also vulnerable children or grieving and hurt adults in the case of priests and ministers. Think of the vulnerable patients supplied to psychiatrists.” She also warns us about the serious problem narcissism poses in the public sector and private nonprofit institutions that use the do-gooder and moral elitist facade to cloak their true self-righteous intentions to not do good but to be “seen as doing good” and “show how good they are by pointing at someone else and telling them how bad they are.” Politics, she points out, “is an ideal arena for narcissists…the list of them who have conned whole nations to become dictators is breathtaking.”