Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
We live in a narcissistic age
Narcissism: ‘meaning’ – a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. “narcissists who think the world revolves around them”
When most people see the definition of a narcissist they always think of someone they know who fits that description but would rarely think of themselves. The truth however is plain to see if we are willing to look and observe closely. We are all self obsessed and it takes a conscious effort to not fall down the rabbit hole of narcissism.
The present culture we have created in our modern world has fuelled the narcissistic tendencies in us. Almost everything is now about me and I. You frequently hear people say things like, ‘I was badly treated even after everything I did for them’, ‘I did not enjoy the show’, ‘I don’t want to watch that’, ‘My opinion was not asked for’, ‘I am hurt by your attitude’, ‘I like things done in a particular way’.
Whilst there might be genuine and justifiable reasons for making all of those statements it still doesn’t hide the fact that the focussed attention is on the self and how the self was affected. If our whole life and how things affect us is always viewed from the I and me perspective then we have inadvertently fallen into the narcissistic trap.
“Since narcissists, deep down, feel themselves to be faultless, it is inevitable that when they are in conflict with the world they will invariably perceive the conflict as the world’s fault.” – M. Scott Peck
DISCUSS: What was your partners’ USP (Unique selling point) before marrying them and how are they doing with that quality now?
The years and months before getting married can almost be described as the rose tinted phase of a relationship. It is almost the season of being a martyr. We think of ourselves as being giving, tolerant, unselfish, wanting the best for our partner but internally we might be thinking, ‘I will soon change that in her’, or ‘knock that out of him because I know what is best for them’.
These are the lies we teĺl ourselves that sometimes leads to unrealistic expectations of marriage
Even though we don’t say it outloud most human beings live with a narcissistic tendency that says if people would just behave like me the world would be a better place, starting with my family. Can you imagine what my home would be like if everyone thought like me and acted like me and shared my values? What bliss.
That is why the writer of the Philippians epistle Paul urged the readers “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
This attitude will sustain any relationship and help both parties in a relationship bring the best out of each other.
THE WAY OF HUMILITY
There is nothing in our modern world that encourages us to have the same attitude of Jesus Christ, yet the bible tells us that what elevated Jesus wasn’t the I or Me mindset but an attitude of humility. Again Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi said “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, Philippians 2
How many of us are prepared to give up our privilege and serve another person and the family that God blesses us with? In a world that so wants us to promote ‘self’, learning to serve another person is like swimming against the tide. We soon discover that even when we set our hearts to do that, we still need to fight the narcissistic tendencies that would scream in the background for attention.
To serve another person in a marriage and with humility is tough. There is no romance to serve, no awards, no new year honour list. Serving is long, tedious and God-like because it is what God does. Has God given up on you because you haven’t changed? Why do we think we should give up when our partners do not do what we want?
(Note of caution: If you find yourself in an abusive relationship either physical, mental or spiritual, please seek help. Do not stay in a relationship where your partner is abusive and unwilling to seek help and change. God has called us to live in peace and also with wisdom. As a church community we would never advocate staying in a toxic environment that is damaging to your wellbeing)
So how can we ‘be humble’ and how can this attitude have a positive impact on our relationship?
1. It takes two: It is the individual’s responsibility to pursue humility, not their partners to demand it. When I display humility towards my partner and they reciprocate that attitude and vice versa, we create an environment that enables flourishing to happen
2. Forgive: You are not perfect and neither is your partner. This means we need to develop a forgiving mindset so we don’t allow the sun to go down on our anger
3. Don’t stop seeing your partner’s USP: So many people forget why they fell in love with someone and focus their attention on the things that irritates them and then wonder why they’ve lost that loving feeling. Rediscover your partners USP
4. Be honest about you: Lying to yourself is about the dumbest thing you can do. Learning to face our weaknesses and find resolution is one of the wisest things we can do. We don’t need to be self critical, we just need to be self observant and find the right resolution for us.