I’ve come to believe that some of us — including me — aren’t very good at knowing how to be happy. I don’t mean that in the sense that happy talk and positive thinking should be able to make us happy regardless of the circumstances. I mean that some of us had so much experience with being unhappy when we were young that we were trained to be unhappy — and that being happy is an unconsciously uncomfortable thing. When I look at times in my past when I should have been happy, it rarely lasted. I believe now that I found reasons to be unhappy — and caused real problems for myself — because being comfortable and happy felt so foreign to my programming. If I’m right, this means that some of us have to do more than just change our circumstances. It means we have to learn how to accept the happiness that we unconsciously fear we don’t deserve.
After I wrote last night about being happy, I thought of an old song that mirrored what I was feeling. After listening to the entire album, I found it remarkable how well the emotions of that music match my own heart at this point in my life. Bob Bennett’s “Matters of the Heart” came out while I was in college. Even after all these years, it holds up really well, and you can listen to the entire album on YouTube. The specific song which matched my feelings last night was “Madness Dancing,” but I still find every song on the album to be strong with the exception of the eighth and ninth. (The song about his parents, called “1951,” is especially poignant.) In fact, the opening and closing songs paint a picture of my heart at its best now in these lines: “A light shining in this heart of darkness, A new beginning and a miracle, Day by day the integration of the concrete and the spiritual.” It’s old music that you’ve probably never heard, but it means a lot to me.
Narcissists tend to turn their children into narcissists — and since a narcissist doesn’t realize he or she is a narcissist, there’s no bad intent. How does this happen? I watched a YouTube video over the weekend from an Australian psychologist who does a nice job of summarizing how it works. None of this is new to me, but I thought it was useful for those who haven’t spent years digging through books and articles about it. The same psychologist has an excellent summary of something which confuses a lot of people about narcissism. You’ve all seen examples of the loud, boisterous and overbearing narcissist, but what about the ones who are more introverted and vulnerable? This type is called a covert narcissist (or a vulnerable narcissist), and this is what my father was. In the first video, I strongly see myself in the ways my father treated me and in the second video, I see what my father was almost successful in making me become.