I fell for it. To a short extent, but I did. I sought advice to grow as a person and I ended up giving too much attention to negative emotions, which is quite common among people who innocently seek to become more self-aware and grow spiritually. I consider that narcissism because, as we’ll see throughout the article, dwelling on, investigating, and condoning one’s emotions too much is a form of self-absorption. Personal growth ends up being a competition about who is more “woke” instead of actually being what it’s supposed to be, a quest to become an exemplary, empowered, and inspiring human being.
During my early years of spiritual investigation I thought that patterns and emotions such as victimism, being a savior, fear to express oneself, fear of abandonment, not feeling enough, impostor syndrome, guilt or self-demand —the list is actually endless— were stuff that you had to learn to deal with. Talking about them, expressing them through certain exercises in workshops, doing affirmations, different types of rituals and ceremonies, or going deep into the emotion to release it were examples of things you were supposed to do so that one day they’d just magically go away… Or not.
I had the hope that at some point, after carrying out specific activities regularly, negative aspects of myself would simply stop showing up. Yet, if I happened to stop such activities all the negativity would come back. The mind seemed to be like a spoiled child that needs constant babysitting otherwise it will make a mess the second you look away. This would reinforce the idea that we are fragile and need to be focused on our poor traumatized selves all day long. Every fear and trauma could come back at any second from a new angle.
It would also be normal to hear that things such as guilt is a core theme or a core wound for someone, or their intimate relationships, their father, or their not feeling enough. “Internal wounds” that would haunt them for the rest of their life and will have to be worked on, analyzed, and understood endlessly. The way to work on them would be to perpetually bring them up in workshops and therapy as a flaw of their character, something that defines them as a person, and keep on doing things around them like the spoiled child that would be incapable of simply deciding to act and think differently.
In defense of everyone stuck in this dynamic, since I was also there, it’s actually tricky to notice you’re becoming a narcissist. It just seems that you’re doing the best you can with the core wounds you’ve been dealt with and you’re doing all the work you possibly can. It’s not so obvious that you’re becoming self-absorbed and all this analyzing goes nowhere —me, me, me, all day long. Then, you end up thinking this is the way to do self-development and unless you keep an open mind it will be almost automatic to reject any idea that suggests that traumas are not what you think. Even worse, you might start thinking you’re better than other people because you’re more aware of your traumas and in general. Yuck.
The idea of coming out with permanent core wounds from traumas is just giving too much protagonism to something you just don’t know how to do better. Then, it would be obvious that the way to go about something that’s not working is simply to learn ways to improve it, like a skill, not to endlessly talk about and dwell on the problem. There is no such thing as a core wound, they’re just areas of life that need new and better perspectives, not something you’re forever stuck with. Seeing this can be liberating, it was for me. I thought I was permanently stuck with certain things that over time while keeping an open mind about new possibilities, have stopped becoming problems; just skills to master. We don’t become permanently broken because of childhood traumas. If anything, we learn dysfunctional skills to go about life; so it’s only needed to replace them with more useful skills.