The narcissist and the empath: what a hot topic in the world today, especially with so much attention on those in leadership roles who are penned as narcissists. We see this duo acting out across politics, in businesses, within spiritual groups and religions, in communities, and in our most personal relationships. Those identifying as empaths are rising up and becoming more vocal about being victims of abuse, in a huge push against those who are being deemed narcissists. Exposing misuse of power and standing up against it has brought a voice to that which was repressed, greater awareness to the imbalances we’ve been facing, and is perhaps a start toward greater equanimity. We have a golden opportunity to make a shift, and our work is far from over.
For the sake of what’s really being said here, let’s set aside that narcissistic personality disorder is a term requiring a clinical diagnostic assessment by a qualified mental health professional. We see numerous publishings about how those representing these two archetypes relate in intimacy. Leaders are being flogged by words on social media and with lengthy in-depth articles which lay blame. Mobs have formed, claiming accountability by force and bullying as noble whistleblowers are speaking up and publicly condemning narcissistic behavior. This clearly is a crying out as aspects of us die underneath the surface, in silent screams for far too long. While useful to some degree, it is a far cry from a stopping point in our evolution, and does not absolve us from culpability. Taken too far, the victim in this story becomes the perpetrator.
As we examine closely, we see that this cycle of abuse requires both participants: those being called the narcissists and those identifying as empaths. Underneath the labels and beneath all of the fights and flights, we discover two similarly wounded human beings who are mirroring each other in a perfect match for healing. The onus is ours, as humanity, to shift and to heal both sides of the equation. The divisiveness we have co-created keeps us personally and collectively fragmented. It’s what occurs when aspects of the whole are disowned. Even across spiritually-focused groups where we ought to be most unified, we are currently divided by this fragmentation as these cycles, to which many allude, persist. Until we come together as one collective humanity and begin to heal the divide, we shall remain a fragmented and suffering species. When we stop seeing what we’ve lumped into a term called the narcissist as an evil subhuman with which to contend or to discard and we own it as ourselves, we will be well on our way to transforming our inner worlds. Owning the shadow of humanity, and seeing everything truly as ourselves are necessary steps for this popular dynamic duo to shift and even possibly to dissipate.
How do we unpack our collective resistance?
We actively recapitulate and perpetuate unhealthy cycles we learned to create and to tolerate in our early childhood. We relish tiny splendid morsels of reward as we wallow in shadow gunk wondering why we cannot be fully seen, heard, nor appreciated for our gifts, missing that it is because we have disowned aspects of ourselves. We look to relationships to give us what our innermost depravations need from us ourselves. We are so entrenched in our collective shadow that we deny our own highest and best expression in which we wish to flourish. We must focus not on analyzing and attacking external behaviors, but look instead within ourselves for our own part in healing and becoming present.
Some of us are stuck in this cycle due to unhealed wounds of which we may not even be aware. Others of us are entrapped thinking we are in our best service to humanity by remaining in this place, hiding behind many stories which have us spinning in instead of spiraling out of the pattern. Some of us keep trying to change the patterns by doing the same things over and over, thinking it will be different this time, or that we will change just enough to be able to cope differently and not do harm. The triggers we encounter make it very challenging for us to see our true part in the story as we slip into fogs of confusion, trauma, and grief. We further seal trauma bonds, as energies and accusations bounce between us. The switchback occurs and we lose our footing. We see-saw into shame and blame shifting, placating ourselves and each other. We fuel and fan the flames of this energetic as we dampen our own resources. We were groomed and taught to do this from our earliest days so we have become quite masterful at this. We are not only victims of past traumas, we are currently victims of ourselves. Until we fully face the aspects within us that are terrified and feel powerless in the face of certain behaviors, and raise those places within us to new roles, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and to collective humanity.
Positivity and ‘spirituality’ movements and groups are also the guise by which aspects of our collective shadow are concealed, escaping the call to face our own depths. Phrases such as Love and Light are sometimes used as a shield from anything that is perceived as bad, dark, evil, the wrong vibe, and such. This is often where we exhibit cognitive dissonance, professing Oneness, yet being quick to cut out what is perceived as toxic or not good. Here, we contribute to the perceived dark, adding mass to the collective shadow, and to toxicity by way of deflection and neglect. Exclusion of aspects of Oneness in its totality postpones our healing. Until we meet the hidden aspects within ourselves, we are not approaching our own lives nor the collective holistically.
What is labeled Truth and excludes anything that does not align with it is another version of this. Ignoring something does not make it go away. It is as if we are afraid to become the perceived darkness and to lose who we think we are. Actually, we are merely shining light on that which has not been seen. The less light and presence we give what we have fragmented off and labeled the dark side, the more gnarly, loud and scary it becomes. The closer we can get, offering presence to it, the better chance of averting toxicities and becoming well-integrated beings. Everything begs to come to the Light, destructive patterns our loud wake up call to dig deeper. The more comfortable we are with allowing ourselves to personally feel the full gamut available to us, the greater capacity we have to traverse the totality of Reality. We will then stop participating in co-creating fragmentation and will stand in equanimity, face to face with every facet of ourselves. As long as we see an us and a them, a we and a they at odds and in a competitive edge, in even the subtlest of ways, we are contributing to divisiveness.
Our adopted meaning of compassion can be our achilles heel. We have largely developed a blind spot in this regard. We hide behind noble deeds we refer to as compassion or even terms like selfless love when what we are really up to is abandoning ourselves and our own best interests. Resenting ourselves at the deepest level, we push off of victimhood, basking in our goodness. This fits like a snug glove with the need of those of us with narcissistic tendencies who seek healing through the empathic nature. This codependent martyrdom is begging to see its way out of our construct. True integrated compassion has a measure of severity that many of us have not developed, yet it is an essential component especially when facing the more dense energies in existence. As we reclaim what we have disowned, we develop a measure of severity within our compassion. This means saying no when necessary, having clear boundaries and protecting them, taking great care of our own needs. This means holding both a cup and a sword.
This development of severity in compassion lends itself to those identifying as empaths lifting out of the strong need and desire to heal narcissistic characteristics. This ultimately calls those of us with more narcissistic behaviors to begin to learn to relate in different ways, as the attempt to heal through the empath can no longer play out when there is no outlet to plug into. The focus then moves onto what may be driving the outcomes, and to discovering the core wounds that lead to these destructive patterns. As we unplug from this match and have enough distance, we can be on our way to healing, each of us working individually with our own inner wounds. This sometimes requires great vigilance.
Some of us are consciously meeting the unseen places within us, utilizing the mirror of the patterns we’ve co-created to conjure the depths of our own demise that we are aware lies deep within us. In this dynamic realm of existence, we get to see ourselves, as consciousness gets to know itself. Our greatest duty is to know thyself. As we begin to prosper in sharing gifts and abilities of our unique signature, it is of the utmost importance that we are able to return to our own energy field, to have a well-established home within us where we find respite. When this foundation is not solid and stable enough, we can easily get lost in the energies, and even entities, with which we mingle. When we have a strong sense of our own core, we become adventurous and even daring as we expand and explore much more terrain.
As we deepen our knowledge of self, we discover that ultimately we all have both narcissistic and empathic characteristics and capabilities within us. The more we heal, the less charged we are toward behaviors. The more neutrality we bring to life, the greater breadth and depth of our journey. We are able to traverse the deepest and darkest of the shadows of ourselves and the collective underworlds beneath the suffering of humanity, transforming and transmuting the underpinnings as the powerful healers and light workers we are. Only when we are well-equipped does this not seem daunting. Once we see everything as us, we integrate our best selves within the highest vibration of neutrality.