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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the day “August 1, 2017”

An Easy Way to Spot a Narcissist

Do you know anybody who keeps complaining about how selfish, uncaring and self-centered other people are? Narcissists love to project their defining qualities on others. Anybody who is not dedicating 100% of their energy, time and attention to the narcissist is loudly denounced by him as a first-rate egotist. 

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Born Smart

To distract myself from the aggravation of having read the previously linked source, I go on Facebook and immediately see the following gem:

There are many kinds of privilege besides white privilege: cognitive privilege, for example. We now know that intelligence is not something we have significant control over but is something we are born with. We are living in a society in which success is increasingly linked to one’s intelligence. . . The accident of having been born smart enough to be able to be successful is a great benefit that you did absolutely nothing to earn. Consequently, you have nothing to be proud of for being smart.

I don’t know whether I was “born smart” or not but I do know that my languages didn’t learn themselves, the books didn’t read or write themselves, and everything I have learned has cost me a huge effort and tons of pain. I still get a headache whenever I remember how hard I worked on my Spanish. All of the theoretical sources I operate with so effortlessly today required endless reading, rereading, copying, looking up words in the dictionary, and not understanding a damn thing again and again. All of the times that I sat at conferences or in class, not understanding 80% of what people were saying and feeling like a damn idiot. All of the times when people quoted authors I’d never even heard about.  I’ve had to look up the word “ontological” at least 10 times until I kind of understood what it meant. And right now? I just misspelled it.

So yeah, born smart, privilege, you did nothing to earn, it’s all a total accident. Fuck that shit from here to hell. I need to go look up ontological again because I forgot what it means for the 11th time in a row.

I’m a Parasite

Of course, that minority with the privilege of thinking also needs to have the necessary conditions for its life (and its thinking) reproduced, and in this sense it holds a parasitic position relative to the rest of the tribe, who guarantee that reproduction. But why would the majority accept this unfair situation? Why would they not only support those ‘thinkers,’ but also grant them the monopoly on an activity that is so basic and so important for human beings?

The good news is that we, the unfair parasites, are being weeded out on a massive basis by Republican state legislatures who seem to be very much in tune with the most progressive and socially responsible among us and who are withdrawing the funding of our parasitic thinking activities. So it’s all good.

Setting Boundaries, Cont’d

Rule #2: don’t engage in internal dialogues with the boundary violator. Once you start an internal monologue addressed at them, that’s it, you have allowed them to inhabit your innermost self. It’s a tough habit to break because internal monologues offer an illusion of finally being able to say everything you wanted. But it’s fake relief. All you are doing is taking apart your own boundaries.

The solution here is as simple as switching the internal monologues to a different channel. The moment they start, imagine you are holding a remote and pressing a button that powers on a different program. The channel you will be switching to needs to be something powerful and engrossing enough to distract you from self-justifying monologues. It’s hard as all hell but I promise that within a month of consistently practicing this, it will become second nature.

Rule #3: erase the phrases “but why does she?” and “I just want to understand why he” from your vocabulary. All they do is lock you in an unhealthy relationship with the boundary violator. He does it because that’s what he wants to do, and that’s all you need to know. All these attempts to “just understand” give you a fake feeling of power over the violator because they make you feel like you can solve the problem by the strength of your intellect. But this power is illusory. The real power lies in building up a boundary and protecting it.

You can’t change a boundary violator or convince them not to violate. All you can do is make yourself not useful and not convenient as a victim. And then they’ll go feed on somebody who is still inquiring forlornly “But why does she always?”

Setting Boundaries

Do you have somebody in your life who constantly violates your boundaries? If so, I have some useful tips on how to keep these people in check.

Rule #1 is never to explain your actions. Make a decision, inform people if they really need to be informed, and stop talking. 

“I’m not going to work on this project.”

“No, I can’t join this committee.”

“I’m going on a trip to Málaga next month.”

That’s it. No “because, I’m so busy right now, this trip is very important to me, etc.”

You don’t lose the battle when you fail to convince that your reasons are valid. You lose the moment you accept that somebody is entitled to a debate on your decisions. {Of course, I’m only talking about people who violate boundaries. A discussion with those who don’t do that can be a very good thing.}

The problem here is strictly internal. The person you really need to convince that you have the competence and the authority to make your own decisions is yourself. Boundary violators sense your doubts and peck at you because they know you are vulnerable in that area. 

Before and After

Yesterday, I talked to my mother on Skype. She was all, “Oh, you look amazing! Your hair looks fantastic! And what a beautiful dress! And the watch is beautiful, too! And look at Klara! What a wonderful child! You are really raising her right.”

In reality, I don’t look that hot because I’m sick and I’m not sleeping. The dress is an ancient house dress I dug out because I’d been cleaning all day. The hair is eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s visit to the salon. The watch is a simple Fitbit. And Klara is wonderful by nature and not because of anything we are doing. 

What’s really funny is that before psychoanalysis (mine, obviously. My mother never considered seeking help) I could be sitting there all beautifully put together and hear, “You don’t look good. What’s up with your skin? Aren’t you too old to break out like that? You really let yourself go. Aren’t you afraid your husband will find somebody fresher? And God, that hair. I keep telling you to do something about it. Oh, and you really need to try this new diet I heard on TV because your weight is out of control.” And then I’d hear from other people how worried she is that my child is malnourished, unkempt and forlorn.

In case you suspect these are age-related changes in her, I need to mention that she is her regular self to everybody else.

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