Maria Yeager

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Being True to Yourself

Since it is around the time of graduation for both high school and college kids, I thought now would be a good time to talk about self-awareness. Being true to yourself and using your own God-given gifts are so important, not only for your own happiness, but for the benefit of all those around you.

It took me fifty years to effectively learn this lesson. Let me explain. I was raised in a family where I was taught to think about others and to help out others who are in need. This is a wonderful thing to do….absolutely! I was so blessed to be surrounded by such caring and thoughtful people, and my Christian upbringing reinforced this value. The world certainly needs more people who put other people’s needs ahead of their own. This is the concept of true and Godly love.

There is, however, a difference between helping others in need and letting other people control you. This is where I became confused, and at the time, I didn’t realize it. It was only after going through a deep valley in my life which included a divorce and three years of counseling that I finally learned this lesson.

From the time I was very young, I was a very creative person. I danced for over twenty-five years (ballet, tap, jazz, modern, ballroom). In college, I was also a choreographer and was involved in many dance recitals. These were some of the happiest memories in my life. For a short period after college, I actually began to ice skate, and I loved it. However, after I got married, everything changed. I quit dancing and taught aerobics since it brought in money. I didn’t enjoy it as much, but at least it gave me a little extra money. When I would see people dance, I fondly remembered the old days, but my husband wasn’t much of a dancer, so I rarely joined in with the group. During the times that I did dance, it was usually by myself.

I also love food. Any kind of food. Liver was just about the only thing I wouldn’t eat. However, my husband and his family were very picky eaters. At one point, I went on to pursue a Master’s Degree in Holistic Nutrition and was so excited to learn how to cook more healthy and delicious meals. This dream of more healthy cooking slowly died, however, as I found myself unable to accommodate the dietary requirements of my family – no fresh tomatoes, no mushrooms, no large pieces of onion or green pepper, etc. For years, we would eat a four cheese pizza on Friday nights with nothing else on it because that is what he wanted to eat.

I love to decorate. For a while, I ran my own scrapbooking business. I just loved to create, and early in my marriage, I was a very creative person. As the marriage progressed, my creative side slowly seemed to disappear. Many times I would bring up ideas to redecorate a room or add some new landscaping, but by the end of the marriage, all I heard from him was a constant “no”.

I was completely focused on keeping him happy, even giving up what I loved. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was slowly losing my own identity. All I knew is that I lacked energy and didn’t take pleasure in life like I used to do in my college years and early on in the marriage. My husband eventually decided he wanted a divorce which was a shock to me since I felt like I had done everything I could do to make him happy.

After we separated, I began counseling which was one of the best things I have ever done. About six months after the separation, I was in Trader Joe’s looking at a fresh pizza loaded with all kinds of vegetables. My mouth watered as I stared at it, and then it hit me. I could buy that! I no longer had this restriction on the food I could buy. A big smile came across my face as I proudly picked it up and placed it in my cart. I had suddenly come to the realization that I could cook how I wanted to cook, and I was ecstatic! I have now joined the company, Blue Apron, which sends fresh ingredients along with the menus weekly to my home. I am now eating all kinds of amazing dishes that I was not able to eat during my marriage. I have even discovered foods that I didn’t even know existed!

During one of my counseling sessions, we discussed my creative side. I had started to decorate my new house, and I found myself becoming a happier person. I told my counselor that during my marriage, I felt like I had lost my creativity. She told me, “You didn’t lose it…it was just stifled.” That statement has stuck with me, and today, my creativity has fully returned. I have ideas flowing out of me so much that I have to keep a journal next to my bed so I can write ideas down when they come to me in the middle of the night (and believe me, that happens a lot!). I have started decorating my home on my own terms and feel so much satisfaction when the job is done. I am in the middle of creating a brand new website for adenomyosis sufferers, a cause that I believe in strongly. The ideas are coming so fast that I feel like a faucet has been turned on, and I can’t turn it off! It is a wonderful feeling! I’m much happier, more energetic, and more at peace with myself. My counselor has told me that this is the meaning of self-awareness, a healthy psychological state.

The lesson? Be true to yourself. Definitely help out others in need, even to the point of putting their needs ahead of your own, but don’t let others control you. There is a difference! Never apologize for who you are. Use your talents. God gave you these talents, and He wants you to use them for His glory. Never, ever, let someone else dictate to you how you are going to live your life. Believe me, it is NOT worth it! If you want to become a doctor or lawyer, do it! If you are really into cars and want to become a mechanic, do it! If you are musical, pursue that dream! If you love to talk and want to become a salesman, by all means, go for it! Don’t force yourself to do something that you hate because someone pushes you in that direction. Use the talents God has given you. Accept who you are. You will be much happier, and the world will be a much better place for it.

Congrats to all the graduates of 2015!!

 

 

 

The Lies of Narcissism

Image at Creative Commons, http://www.lillylulu123.deviantart.com/art/Crying-Eye-315830804

Narcissism falls along the axis of what psychologists call personality disorders, one of a group that includes antisocial, dependent, histrionic, avoidant and borderline personalities. But by most measures, narcissism is one of the worst, if only because the narcissists themselves are so clueless.

It took me almost 49 years to learn the meaning of true fulfillment and true peace.  I had to go through an extended period of living in a narcissistic environment and looking for life’s meaning through materialistic goals before realizing that I was way off target.  I am currently in the process of writing a fiction book about narcissism that is based on a true story, but I wanted to share some basic facts on this blog about narcissism to help those who are having to deal with others with this personality disorder.

For many years, I was living in an environment surrounded by people with narcissism, but I didn’t realize it.  I had heard of the word “narcissism” but really didn’t know much at all about it and honestly, I didn’t care to know.  Little did I know that I was surrounded by narcissistic behavior and that I had been a victim of narcissistic abuse for quite some time.

Basically, narcissists are very selfish people.  They are known to lack empathy for others and are known for always placing the blame on others rather than taking responsibility for their own actions.  In my case, I was made to feel like I was the problem even if the issue had absolutely nothing to do with me.  This led to me questioning myself constantly which eventually led to depression.  I knew deep down inside that this thinking was twisted, but I managed to always make excuses rather than face the difficult decision to end these destructive relationships.  The best way to describe it was that my soul was restless, and I did not have true inner peace.  To satisfy the narcissist’s demands, I was continually finding that I had to turn my back on my own values.  This struck right at the core of my soul, and I was miserable.

Thankfully, these destructive relationships did come to an end through the action of the actual narcissist.  I was no longer any use to this person, so I was left as if I was a piece of garbage.  However, this was probably the best thing that ever happened to me as I it opened the door to my healing.

The following are some of the characteristics of someone with a narcissistic personality disorder:

1. Lack of remorse for their mistakes

2. Does not care about the consequences of his/her actions

3. Pathological lying

4. Very charming; can get emotional in public, but this is all a show to manipulate others

5. Expects victim to follow along without question.  He/she tells victim what to do rather than ask.

6. Controls spending of others, but he/she spends freely on themselves

7. He/she doesn’t listen simply because they don’t care

8. Gaslighting – manipulative behavior, takes advantage of others

9. Projects faults onto others – blaming others for their problems

10. Lack of empathy – doesn’t care about the needs or feelings of others

11. Highly contradictory

12. Breaks others down that they feel are inferior

13. Thinking he/she is better than others

14. Core of concern is power, success, attractiveness

15. Needs to be center of attention and requires constant praise

16. Appears unemotional

17. Easily hurt or rejected

Narcissists come across as being very egocentric and sure of themselves, but the root of the problem, believe it or not, is insecurity.  It has been shown that those affected by this personality disorder are actually very insecure and they use the above behaviors to feel better about themselves.

Recovering from narcissistic abuse can be a long process, but you can recover and live a truly fulfilling life.  First and foremost, you must realize that YOU ARE NOT THE PROBLEM!  The narcissist can be very cunning and manipulative.  It is important that you realize this.  If you are with someone who refuses to take responsibility for his/her actions and wants to blame everyone else for their problems, the best thing to do is to get out of that relationship if possible.  Narcissists do not want to change and they do not want to be criticized in any way, shape or form.  In fact, “narcissistic rage” is a known feature of this personality disorder, and they can become very mean and vindictive when questioned.  The narcissist has the problem, not you!

Realize that no matter what you say or do, the narcissist will not have sympathy or empathy for any of your problems, no matter what they are.  If the problems do not directly affect him/her in some way, they don’t care if you are suffering.  Remember, they are the center of their world, and the rest of the world are just puppets to be manipulated so that they can get what they want.  They truly believe “the ends justify the means” no matter who they have to run over to get there.

Next, remember that narcissists truly believe that they are always right.  It is pointless to get into an argument with them because you will never win.  They will end up making you question your own sanity because they are expert manipulators.  Additionally, narcissists believe that they don’t need any help.  Counseling a narcissist is very difficult because they will not admit to shortcomings.

Bottom line – if you feel like you are in a relationship with a narcissist, please get some help.  Leave the relationship if possible.  Be educated about how narcissists function so you can deal with them as effectively as possible.  Trust your intuition…..if you feel something is wrong, it probably is!

As for me, I am now at a place of true fulfillment and peace.  By going through the healing process, I have not only learned how to recognize this personality disorder but I have also learned how to deal with this type of person more effectively.  But the biggest lesson of all is the lesson of selfishness vs. selflessness.  Over the past several years, I have been a volunteer at a thrift shop and found immense happiness in helping those who are less fortunate.  I have also started up a website on adenomyosis (similar to endometroisis) which I suffered from for 17 years.  Women from all over the world are accessing this site, and I constantly get “thank you” messages for making this information available to them and for letting them know that they are not alone.  I am also writing this blog to help to inspire others to become the best they can be.

But the most important thing of all is putting all of my trust in God.  Without Him, I would never have been able to come as far as I have in the healing process.  He has literally carried me through some of the toughest times of my life.

Between trusting God completely, helping others, and putting other’s needs before my own, I have finally found true happiess, peace and fulfillment.  I realize now that selfishness in the form of narcissism will never bring true happiness.  Looks, finances, material objects, etc. will all vanish one day, but the selfless acts of a Christian person will never be forgotten.  God not only saved me, but he showed me the way to true happiness.  Selflessness is the key.  My soul is finally at peace.

“For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Psalms 1:6

“The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.  You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors……For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as a shield.” Psalms 5: 5-6, 12

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 

Sources:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, http://www.mayoclinic.org

Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse, by Andrea Schneider, LCSW, http://www.goodtherapy.org

 

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