To be of good character, we must become master of our appetites and aversions, our likes and dislikes. We must become master of instead of slave to what has been commonly called the “pleasure principle.”
At a primal level, we are all animals with basic desires, instincts, urges, and raw emotions. And these primal characteristics of ours are not inherently evil. They’re a part of who we are. But because we are more than mere animals, we’re capable of functioning on a much higher plane. Before we can elevate ourselves to that plane, however, we must first “own” and then reckon with our baser inclinations. Of course, this is neither appealing nor easy. In fact the burden of self-reckoning is a “cross” we’re all called to carry if we’re to fashion a better world. Failing to accept this burden and instead lying about the flaws within ourselves that we need to reckon with is the ultimate evil.
The tragedy of our times is that far too many folks lack the attributes of character necessary to function in a mature, responsible way. But we all have it within us to become a better person.
Sometimes reality challenges the grandiose self-image narcissists have. And when a narcissitic wound is deep and the reality behind it too self-evident to deny, the consequences to those made to take the blame for failure can be profound.
Narcissists come in two main varieties: vulnerable (neurotic) and grandiose (character disturbed or disordered. Of the two types, grandiose narcissists are the more problematic. Unfortunately, because of the nature of our times, they’re also the more prevalent. The disdain they have for those they view as inferior often engenders a dismissive attitude that can really get under the skin of a relationship partner.
Aggressive personalities are narcissists through and through. But they’re far more than simply egocentric, vain, grandiose, etc. It’s not so much that they simply don’t care about you. Rather, they fully intend to exploit or get the better of you, and that’s why they’ve always belonged in a different category.
Folks who project a “can do” persona and who seem devoid of the anxieties and insecurities so often hold people back can appear to hold the keys to success and prosperity, which many potential relationship partners find quite attractive. But narcissists are more than confident. They’re often grandiose.
Narcissism is more than just self-centeredness (i.e. egocentricity). And it’s more than just super self-confidence. It’s pathological self-love – a self-love that always poses problems for relationships.
I have long known that I owe a deep debt of gratitude to the thousands of folks who have helped expose and promulgate both my work and my perspective throughout the world.
Sometimes it’s the most decent things about us – things that it would behoove us never to change – that make us vulnerable to the most character-impaired.