Have you ever found yourself saying, he or she is a narcissist, or selfish, or self-centered? Maybe you’ve heard yourself say he or she’s so lovely because they do so much for so many people. Usually, there is a judgment about one is good, and the other is bad.
The dictionary definition of altruism is “the selfless concern for the well-being of others.” Altruism in terms of evolutionary biology is, “In evolutionary biology, an organism is said to behave altruistically when it benefits other organisms at a cost to itself” plato.stanford.edu. That last definition doesn’t help me want to be more altruistic, but it does give me a great place to explain my case for the need for both in our lives.
The dictionary definition of narcissism is “selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.” We describe that as a personality disorder, in the extreme demonstration of it. However, I know I personally have demonstrated this trait at certain times, and so have the people that I love most in the world, and if I may be so bold, so have you. But not all the time.
That’s key to know as we all want to be appreciated and, at times, think we deserve more than we are getting – any parents of children out there? We go around with the mistaken perspective that it’s terrible to be narcissistic. What is essential is having a balance of both narcissism and altruism in our lives.
Most people want others to be altruistic, be selfless, giving them what they want. The downside is energy is going too many directions, and it going to everyone else except you, if you are the one doing the giving. This constant giving of energy can lead to burn-out, chronic fatigue, exhaustion, which eventually gets us resentful and frustrated and angry, particularly at those closest to us. Resentment is a symptom you are out of fair exchange in your world.
If we are unaware of the need for both narcissism and altruism, in life or business, it can play out like this. If you have a tendency towards altruism, you will judge others around you for charging too much, being too greedy and not giving you what you want for the price you want to pay…or free. We will think people are selfish and narcissistic because they are focused on the bottom line. If we have a tendency towards selfless actions, we will judge someone as a selfish person.
We can’t survive and can’t sustain ourselves if we don’t have a balance of both traits in our lives. We need the give and the take to be what it is we want. We can’t sustain our lives if we don’t charge what we are worth. And by the way, the biggest sale you will ever have to make is to yourself. Self-worth is a factor in how you charge in your business.
You don’t have to look too far for narcissistic behavior if you have children. Teenagers are notorious for being focused on their friends, their appearance, and their social life. We could call that self-involved behavior. When you have a big project due for a client, you will put a real value on your time to execute this. We all have many times in our weeks when we are focused on ourselves, so to label someone as narcissistic is because you not owning or looking where you have demonstrated your form of the narcissistic trait.
People are so quick to judge others as to whether they are narcissistic or altruistic. If they are selfish and narcissistic and it challenges our values, we will dislike it, but if it supports our values, then we will judge it as something we like.
We were having a discussion about this very topic at a workshop I ran for clients recently. I showed them a video of Jeff Bezo’s from Amazon being interviewed. Even before they’d seen the video, he was already labeled by some as narcissistic. Why? They had read about some of his employees living in a car while working for him. This judgment wasn’t even considering the content of the video, where the man himself was talking. The rest of us thought he was both, and it made for a lively discussion. He talks about when he set up his business, the internet and payment platforms were already in place. So he is paying it forward by helping fund and build infrastructure to get human beings into space, not only creating opportunities for further space exploration and the advancement of the human species, but also all the businesses that will exist because of it. Talk about a long term vision! He has a balance of both narcissism and altruism in equal amounts. You will judge him or someone like him, as one or the other according to your value system and your belief system. It is not always a fair judgement.
It’s our view on the world that will decide if a person is narcissistic or altruistic. If we judge harshly, we are only seeing one side of the individual. Mostly we are both. We have to be both to stay alive, and we need to focus on facts before judgments.
Before you judge someone as being narcissistic, ask yourself how it does serve you?
We have all experienced altruism in some form, working more hours than you charge, doing a swap of service with someone, having a family and friends’ rate for clients, so you don’t have to charge the full price, even going over the allotted time. Essentially giving things, like your time for free. And people don’t really value it when it’s free. Also, running around after your family and not getting anything done for yourself. That can build resentment…be honest! Usually, there is a payoff, but when it’s all the time, it gets harder to see the payoff. However, we don’t do selfless acts without getting something in return. Next time you do one, think about the payoff you are getting. Are you doing it so someone helps you in the future, or so someone likes you?
The Law of fair exchange exists just like the law of gravity does. We can’t live without gravity on earth, no matter how hard we try, and the law of fair exchange is the same. We cannot escape it. How you know it’s working is if you get something that you want and you pay for it, you are feeling great; there is an even exchange of energy. When it’s out of balance, you will feel the symptoms of resentment because you know when you are doing more than the other person or guilt if you are receiving too much for nothing.
If you are filled with resentment, it will be mean that you have to pull back on the kind actions to that person. That’s your sign you are moving out of the law of fair exchange. That’s why I say you don’t want to get rid of your negative side as there is so much wisdom sitting in there. Resentment helps us reclaim our time, or ask for a raise, and start to do things on our terms and most importantly say no!
A client of mine was being asked to help her friend for a special occasion. She was delighted. But, as the list got longer, my client was beginning to feel overwhelmed, yet she kept saying yes. Underneath resentment was building, but on the surface, she appeared OK or so she’d have that person believe. But something happened as it usually does, to make my client stop and go hang on, enough!
My client began to pull back from saying yes to every demand. She began to look after her own energy, get realistic about what she could or couldn’t do, and stopped running herself ragged. She actually felt better in herself for saying no to any more demands on her time. At the end of the day, it’s a self-value exercise. Being resentful is a powerful way to end the over-giving that we do to our own detriment. Resentment gives us the power to say no.
Let’s look at fair exchange from a slightly different perspective. You want something, but it’s more expensive than you want to pay. You now have a choice: you can figure out a way to get it, by upskilling and demanding more of yourself, exploring options or saying no. If people are charging more than you think is right, but they have what you want, are they giving you permission to demand more from yourself? Isn’t this a good growth strategy?
Sometimes we are so busy looking for support for our projects that we end up creating more problems. Because we are kind to everyone, we think they should support us. Instead of turning it around and demanding more from ourselves, we want life to be easy. If I am helpful to you, then you will do this for me. It’s the payoff, and it’s the biggest threat to ourselves and our businesses. We are so focused on getting support, we begin to play outside the laws of the universe by continually wanting something for nothing.
If someone does a lot for you, you tend to be really grateful, but when it keeps coming, it makes us feel guilty because we haven’t done enough to keep it balanced. Our intuition knows when we are out of fair exchange, and we will either feel guilty or obligated. That’s the other symptom of the fair exchange being out of balance.
Because it is still early in the year, and you may be trying to get your goals to a place of momentum, make sure you have a balance of both narcissism and altruism when you are creating or refining them. If you know you need both, what can you do to be more balanced?
1.Check; If you are wanting to have more without doing more, that’s a fantasy, and your goals may not be getting you where you are going. You are probably attracting challenges instead of momentum.
2.Check; If you are doing more without moving forward to where you want to be, you are spreading yourself to thin and need to be more narcissistic or selfish with your time and energy.
3. Say no to swapping services in your business. If you are tempted, honour each other’s time and attention and pay each other for the service. Get used to being paid for your services right from the beginning.
4. Watch your energy if you are feeling resentful – why are you feeling resentful? Begin to say no to demands on your time. I often say no is a complete sentence! Resentment is a symptom you are over-giving, and it’s beneficial. What can you say no to today, that you have been saying yes constantly to, so you can get your time and attention back on what’s most important to you?
5. When you get into momentum, make sure you have a balance of both narcissism and altruism, or a balance of being, doing, and having.
What you are going to do – that’s altruism
What are you going to have – that’s narcissism
Who do you want to be – that’s the being part.
We need a balance of both in our lives. If not, we can experience burn out and exhaustion as well as living a resentful and frustrating life because we don’t get to what is important to us. Resentment is your sign you are out of fair exchange.Narcissism and altruism are both necessary to you, to your business and to your life. Start watching how you demonstrate both every day, so you can own your worth, your time and your ability to create what you want in life.
It’s time to balance out your inner altruist with your inner narcissist. Contact us today to find out how. It’s time to value you so the world can value you. www.remarkablemindset.com/contact
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I work with you and alongside you as your personal life coach. For years I have been studying human behaviour as it’s vital to know what we do and also what we don’t do that stands in the way of our potential.
Being a life coach and facilitator affords me a very unique outlook in the way people live their lives. I’m extremely fortunate to have a set of skills that allows me to dissolve challenges and also the baggage or ‘bags of age’ that we carry around. These literally take up time and space in your life and when these are negative they can weigh us down and create reactions as well as signs and symptoms. Your mindset is that important.
certified facilitator of human behaviour and human potential