Saturday, 12 April 2014

Bursting The Narcissistic Bubble

Pulkit Sharma

So many people put in huge efforts, pushing their mind and body to staggering limits to achieve success. They want boundless success in every sphere – unrivalled position at work, overflowing admiration and respect, abundant sexual pleasure, unshakable power, enormous amount of money, prolonged youth and entertainment to continuously pamper them. But they are unaware that all this success is ephemeral. Despite the best of efforts to secure such success, happiness remains elusive. Stress, depression and aggression however always threaten to burst this narcissistic bubble.

The desire for success has turned everyone into a narcissist and so they are only focussed on fulfilling their own needs and desires. Other people are seen not as fellow human beings but as targets to be persuaded and exploited. Everyone is busy thinking how they can use others to further their own agenda. Relationships are becoming full of exploitation, oppression and manoeuvring.

Desire for this kind of success stems from either low self-esteem or an experience of deprivation. People who feel weak, undesirable and insignificant within chase success in a hope to feel valued. They feel that once they become successful, the world will shower them with undivided attention. They hope that this in turn will transform the way they feel about themselves. Others want success to ensure that they will always get whatever they want and there will be no deprivation.

However, no matter how much a person achieves, these feelings of low self-esteem and deprivation persist because the person has wrongly identified these painful experiences as part of self. Until and unless the person breaks away these identifications, there is no respite.

Accomplishments can bring only a temporary relief. In my work as a clinical psychologist, i often get to see clients who seem to feel like a nobody despite doing and having a lot. They see themselves as separate from the world, a discrete entity that wants the best for itself. They live in constant dread of losing the success they have achieved. They try to deny this fear by immersing themselves once again in the web of their goals but one fine day the denial breaks down. They realise that they need a new psychology of life, something that goes beyond ephemeral success.

Everyone wishes to be happy. But we have started confusing excitement with happiness. The more you base your happiness on external feedbacks such as outstripping others, admiration, material rewards, possessions and impression management, the unhappier you become. Ephemeral success can only create excitement. Excitement is like a drug, you need a daily dose of it
to satisfy your craving. Else there is turmoil.

Real success is what brings happiness instead of just excitement. To achieve it, one needs to turn within and introspect deeply. Try to see that you have been part of a socially and culturally constructed rat race. This has led to creation of a false self. There is no escape from it until you consciously and fearlessly opt out. Once you take this crucial step new opportunities will unfold.

Different people find value and bliss in different activities. Once you find your area of liking devote yourself completely to it with one-pointed attention. Find joy in the activity itself rather than wanting the world to admire you for it. Real success always leads to real happiness, a state full of bliss, peace and permanence. This state is characterised by self-reliance, renunciation of ego needs, acceptance and expression of one's true Self.

First Published on
Aseem Seth

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