From the political arena to gym showers, it seems it has become sociably acceptable to bash other individuals, especially women. Even with more women in the public eye, this pattern has not changed. Women have always been seen and treated as the weaker sex, and are still fighting for equality at work, in the government and even in the home.
“It is harder for women to be assertive and speak up for themselves because of their desire to accommodate others. Men are conditioned to go after what they want unapologetically, while women who do the same are seen in a negative way,” said Avery Neal, a practicing psychotherapist at The Women’s Therapy Clinic in The Woodlands, Texas.
The rise of narcissism in our culture is becoming more prevalent, as we see technology and social media used in such a way that facilitates a “look at me” attitude.
“This cultural norm where we put ourselves on stage for everyone’s view not only on social media, but also in our daily lives, is giving rise to an epidemic that has spread to the culture as a whole. Some of the key components of narcissism are a preoccupation with appearance, a lack of empathy and respect for the humanity of others, entitlement, and a lack of accountability or responsibility,” said Neal. “Sadly, these attributes describe more and more individuals and our culture at large. Individuals feed culture and culture feeds individuals.”
Like a disease, narcissism has become pervasive in our society. Recognizing the epidemic is the first step toward stopping it. Neal gives some tips on how we might halt the narcissistic epidemic.
· Be present – Slow down and pay attention. Be present in the moment. Have awareness of what is going on around you, but focus your energy on what you want to achieve. Foster better relationships by turning off the phone or put it away altogether when you are spending time with loved ones. Be mindful of the time you do set aside for technology so that it doesn’t creep into every aspect of your life. Engage in activities that soothe your spirit, like learning to play a musical instrument or planting a garden. Doing things that require attention, skill and nuanced responses can interrupt the routine distancing that has become our habit.
· Interact with the people around you – With the rise of technology and social media, it has become normal to talk by text, email or chats. We hide behind our screens, only connecting on a superficial level, portraying our “perfect” lives. Instead of joining this societal norm of disrespectful bashing and egocentric thinking, engage in intelligent conversations with the people around you. Remember that relationships are reciprocal. You need to be an active listener instead of just sitting back waiting for your turn to speak. Seek quality relationships.
· Respect each other and yourself – Make a conscious effort to cultivate relationships with people you respect and who respect you in return. Don’t abandon your integrity just because someone pushes your buttons. Understand that, while other people’s experiences and opinions will differ from yours, they still deserve respect.
· Practice Gratitude and Empathy – Be grateful for experiences that benefit not just you as an individual, but that increase the happiness of others. Make a contribution to the community instead of constantly striving for personal success. Don’t be immune to other people’s suffering and pain by increasing your receptivity to them and to others.
Adopting these habits can provide a sense of perspective that counterbalance the “me, me, me” mentality of the narcissist. “Ask yourself what is going on in your life that is making you so detached and be aware of the messages you receive through the media that promote a narcissistic view,” said Neal. “Narcissism may be the way things are in America in this moment, but it’s not necessarily the way things have to be, either on a personal or societal level.”