As I sit at home today wondering what to write about this week, I notice my mind is all over the place, hopping around from thought to thought. Unsettled.
I spent this weekend immersing myself in the latest research on narcissism, psychopathy, grandiosity, magical thinking, and delusional disorders, and I’m feeling deeply disturbed.
It’s hard for me not to just throw up my hands, announce that the world has gone mad, find a cabin deep in some remote forest, and busy myself with feeding squirrels and reading poetry. Today, I feel discouraged and overwhelmed.
The latest research suggests that the incidence of narcissism has risen from one percent of the general population to anywhere between five and ten percent. Narcissism, as I’ve written about before, is a survival response to childhood trauma. For all the knowledge we’ve gained and all the strides we’ve made in psychology, sociology, and medicine, how are these rates going up instead of down?
I ask that rhetorically obviously. But then my mind flits over to the huge increase that I see in magical thinking and delusional, paranoid mind-states that are increasingly being legitimized and normalized. People are increasingly, and in some cases understandably, suspicious of authority figures. Questioning reality and deconstructing “truth.”
So many people and movements claim “special insider” knowledge, simple fixes, a sense of belonging, and superhuman powers.
For me, it’s more complex than all that.
For example, I’m a big supporter of deeply understanding narcissism and psychopathy and knowing how to identify and make informed, self-protective choices around various kinds of people. However, I’m not a supporter of vilifying, shaming, humiliating, dehumanizing, and punishing “those people.”
Also, I’m deeply supportive of a vaccine-hesitant stance and of people’s rights and responsibilities to research and be thoughtful about what they do and don’t put into their bodies. When it comes to any treatment, medication, or healing protocol, there are many individual differences that need to be taken into consideration as we make informed choices.
However, I’m not in support of any dogma or ideology that swings to the extremes of either forcing everyone to get vaccinated or out-of-hand devaluing or dismissing decades of research, technology, and science that has the power to protect life on our planet.
And, I’m deeply supportive of educating ourselves, thinking critically, and understanding the hidden agendas behind massive corporations that control pharmaceutical research and food production on our planet.
However, I’m not on board with the wholesale devaluing of the medical professions, researchers, scientists, professors, and the hard-earned expertise that we rely on in an interdependent world. Nor am I on board with the blind adoption of what I see as grandiose and delusional thinking that we can somehow single-handedly just magically think ourselves into optimal health and superhuman immune systems, as I have heard some people claim recently.
We live at the intersection of our internal and external worlds.
Do our thoughts, perceptions, emotions and interior lives affect our health and well-being? Of course they do. We have decades of research on the ways our minds, bodies, spirits, and emotions influence and interact with one another.
Are we able to conjure up an external reality of our choosing with the sheer strength of our belief system? Unfortunately not. We are an interdependent species, living in an interdependent ecosystem, and what we each do, say, and believe directly affects all of us.
So, I find myself turning to principles of shared humanity, intellectual humility, kindness, and my deep dedication to learning and growth.
1. I hold my beliefs with a “for now” consciousness: This is what I believe today, for now. And as I learn more, discover more, experience more, I will keep examining and updating what I believe. The principle of learning and growth and continued discovery is more important to me than finding something to become rigidly dogmatic about.
2. I remain committed to a “both/and” consciousness: Whatever decisions I make, I ask myself how they serve me, serve others, and serve the collective ecosystem of life on our planet, and I try to make whatever decision most adequately represents both honor and care for all three of those perspectives.
3. I develop courage in the face of my fears: I notice the places in me that still get triggered, reactive, defensive, or dogmatic, and I work on tending lovingly to the fear-states in me that want to seduce me into hostility, rigidity, grandiosity, or shame.
And I’d love to hear from you. What do you find yourself turning to these days to restore hope, keep you in alignment with purpose, or to nurture your well-being when you get overwhelmed, scared, or unsettled by the pressure systems on the planet these days? Leave a comment below.
WANT TO GO DEEPER IN THIS WORK?
Here are a few of my programs that might be of interest to you: