Ideally, when newborn infants first enter the world, they are instantly introduced to love. In those initial moments of life, they are tended to carefully, phone calls are excitedly made, great care is given toward physical needs, warm smiles abound, gentleness is prominent, and nurturance is premium. Goodness and decency are the hallmarks of a person’s entry into life, as it should be.
Shift gears and think about how many adult narcissists have gravitated toward themes of hate. By definition, narcissists are so self-centered that they make little effort to know and understand you. To them, you are a nuisance who needs to know your [lowly] place. Feelings of entitlement prompt them to manipulate and exploit you for selfish gain. They have rationalized the necessity of dominance over you. They are quite free with insults and criticisms. Contempt and begrudgement are common, as is invalidation and abusive initiatives.
Predictable behaviors accompany the narcissists’ mindset of hatred. Aggressive anger is prominent. Words of derision are common. Punishment is meted out for the smallest slights. Lies and secrets are kept, and accountability is mocked. Bullying is frequent, as is gross insensitivity.
Between the first day of life when tenderness was prominent and adulthood where hateful patterns rule, something went dreadfully wrong. Love was left behind as a very different pattern emerged.
So, what happened? What causes a person to stray from love and goodness toward a persona built upon a foundation of hatred?
Let’s look at several reasons:
- Narcissists learn to think exclusively, not inclusively. They think: “There are people on my team, and they will be treated one way, then there are people who are not on my team, and they will be held in contempt.” Narcissists have learned to categorize people based upon their utility. If they sense you will not supply their egotistical needs, you are an “out” person.
- A grading system has become paramount. Being competitive in their approach to relationships, narcissists learned to mentally run people through a judgmental grid. You are either good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, smart or stupid, correct or incorrect. They apply tight binary standards, leaving no room for nuance. They have never developed the empathy necessary to process life descriptively, absent of harsh pronouncements.
- Their outlook on life has become shame based. Having bought into to the grading system, they have concluded that it is never good to reveal personal struggles or needs. They have a contempt for their own capacity toward imperfection, but instead of introspecting about that, they project their shame outwardly. Subconsciously, they reason that if they see what is wrong in others, it absolves their inadequacies.
- Sometimes, hatred and contempt have been directly taught. In their formative years, narcissists may have had models who point blank taught them who they should hold in lowest regard. “These are the people you should associate with, but those are the people who are beneath you.” They target issues like ethnicity, socio-economic status, levels of physical beauty, religious inclinations, political persuasions, education levels, cultural distinctives, family differences, and more.
- Often, hateful adult narcissists were recipients of hateful treatment. They may have come under attack with verbal or physical violence, sexual abuse, scapegoating, stonewalling, and arbitrary rejection. Their coping philosophy became one of compensation. “If I have been abused and rejected, I’ll find relief by becoming the one who dishes it out.”
- Inevitably, they have come under the influence of social cues depicting hatred and aggression. Narcissists vicariously find power as they identify with people bent toward vengeance. They like stories that glorify the dark side of humanity, often gravitating toward entertainment themes emphasizing cruelty and dominance. They presume that the tough person is the one who wins, and the way that happens is to find an opponent who can and should be pummeled.
Yes, most adult narcissists had very early exposure to themes of love, but multiple factors caused the dark side to prevail. That begs the question: Can the original love ideal be recouped? In a few cases, narcissists can be reformed, but a high percentage never do. Hatred can become a gratifying compensation for one who is covering deep psychological wounds and inadequacies.
In the meantime, it is possible for those witnessing hatred’s destruction to build upon a much better foundation, one consistent with the themes that you wish for developing children.
For instance, you can exchange:
Dominance for team focus
Chronic criticism for encouragement
Mean invalidations for genuine curiosity
Poorly conceived biases for pensive self-reflection
Aggressive anger for calm firmness
Haughty condescension for equality
Holding grudges for forgiveness
Forced agendas for clean boundaries
Perpetual turmoil for peace.
It is truly sad, pitiable, when adults eschew goodness, implying: “If you see me as hateful, I’m ok with that.” That indicates how they have completely missed what a meaningful life is.
But you and I can do better. Despite narcissists whose natural bent is toward hatred, we can stay focused on one simple, but profound truth: Love is what mattered most on that first day of life, and it will always be the standard for a rewarding life.
To watch the video version of this topic, please click here.
~Dr. Les Carter