“The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one’s narcissism. The narcissistic orientation is one in which one experiences as real only that which exists within oneself, while the phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one. The opposite pole to narcissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see other people and things as they are, objectively, and to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and fears.”
– Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
The earliest stages of habit formation occur in relationships, most specifically in parent/child relationships. Fewer kids in families means more attention is lavished on one or two children. Such pampering extended beyond childhood can lead to feelings of entitlement on the part of the child, who simply always expects to be catered to in the way they are accustomed.
Oftentimes, mothers find themselves feeling neurotic and are naturally more inclined to become the over-functioning parent. As highly empathic people, it hurts them to see their kids struggle. This type of parenting frequently leads to children developing narcissism as they are regularly being rescued by their parents.
Typically, this cycle continues through college and beyond, especially for males, as they end up feeling like someone should always be taking care of them.
Due to these deeply ingrained patterns, and reinforced ways of thinking from others that it is so difficult to change. There is a lack of motivation to change because we are naturally lazy, and comfortable in our set patterns. Instead, it may seem easier to manipulate others to get our own way.
What we have here is a classic narcissist with controlling personality traits that were given to them by their helicopter parents.
Traditionally, girls have tended to grow up with much greater societal pressure to be more moral than boys, but even with newly found feminist freedom, women are still trying to find a balance between giving and receiving.
Many women today are primary caregivers for kids and breadwinners for their families while their entitled husband stays home. Familiar childhood habits are still deeply ingrained, but as adults, things are starting to look a lot more like personality disorders.
One spouse is over-functioning, anxious, and stressed while the other is enabled and entitled. An impartial observer can quickly see that they are in fact addicted to each other in the later stages of a narcissist / neurotic cycle of abuse.
We can blame the media, religion, politics, industrialism, parenting, genetics, environment, technology, the general fast pace of modern living, and many other contributing factors that have given rise to this world of Napoleons and Mother Teresas. However, to break the cycle, awareness must be the first step. We need to wake up to the realities that we have brought upon ourselves.
With open eyes and alert minds we can begin the task of untangling so many toxic ties, breaking generational habits, and moving forward deliberately into a more equitable and peaceful life, at home, at work, and around the world.
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