Some traits of an introvert:
1. Likes to be alone.
2. Quiet and reserved.
3. Doesn’t enjoy being in crowded social situations.
4. Doesn’t relish small talk.
5. Needs to recharge after social gatherings.
Some traits of a narcissist:
1. Lacks empathy.
2. Exaggerated sense of self-importance.
3. Feelings of entitlement.
5. An excessive need for praise and attention.
6. Doesn’t like criticism.
7. Judges others.
Try imagining a person who exhibits the worst behaviors of both an introvert and a narcissist. Having all those bad traits together in one psyche would be hell. I should know, I managed to do it.
Imagine being painfully self-aware, feeling stressed around crowds, thinking you’re smarter than most, yet possessing questionable social skills. Now imagine being in any social situation and blurting out an ill-thought-out question, a stupid comment, or an inconsiderate observation, and freezing up when you should be explaining yourself. Now throw in being painfully self-aware and absolutely convinced that your statement, question, or lack of response has just ruined lives and irreparably harmed people’s self-esteem or their perception of you.
That is the perfect recipe for harmful, lingering, and painful rumination. I blurt out something inconsiderately inane and blow my chance to fix it because my mind goes blank. Now I own it – lock, stock and barrel. It will follow me for life. I know this from all the past stupidities I’ve hoisted on the world. They dutifully come back to haunt me at 3:00 am. And, since I’m so influential, important, and powerful (in my own head) everyone involved is thinking and talking about what I did. They will surely dwell on it, causing them to think less and less of me. It can also ruin what could have been a joyous memory of a special occasion, causing me, instead, to get queasy when thinking about it. That’s sad.
That, of course, is an exaggeration. I have to keep reminding myself of the famous quote, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what other people think of you if you realized how seldom they did.”
I don’t know how many times I’ve apologized profusely to someone the day after blurting out something stupid, only to realize they don’t even remember what I said or half the time, that I was even there.
You’d think I’d learn from that, but no. I fall back on my delusions of importance and influence. I’m convinced they’re just being nice to my face, but are actually talking about it behind my back.
Even talking about this is narcissistic. Why should you care about what goes on in my mind? I’m self-inflating my importance, yet again.
If I had to explain why I’m writing this, I’d say I want to help someone else going through the same thing. I’d like them to know they are not alone and let them know that ruminating doesn’t do anyone any good. You’re not paying a penance. You’re not driving home a lesson. You’re not making everything better. You’re actually releasing stress hormones into your body, some of which are kind of rough on it.
We all hate to hear, “Let it go!” Or “Why are you still thinking about that?” Or “Oh no, you actually said that?” So sometimes it can be hard to talk to people about it. But know that their are people who understand, be it a trusted friend, a doctor, or an empathetic family member.
Things that have worked for me are – writing it down; trying positive reinforcement techniques – instead of beating yourself up, make it a positive by thinking of the good things it could have caused, even if that only means schadenfreude therapy for the people involved; finding the humor, if possible; anti-anxiety supplements like L-theanine; a long walk through the woods; focusing on other people’s needs; and just plain getting out of my head for awhile.
And, most of all, realizing that I’m not alone.