We are all narcissists β€” A (πšπš‘πš›πšŽπšŠπš) on overcoming the need for external validation
"Don't worry about what other people think" is useless advice (well-intended though).

Try this β€” don't think of a pink rhinoceros. Were you successful?
Deliberate attempts to suppress certain thoughts only make them more likely to surface.

When you tell yourself "stop thinking about X!", the mind monitors all your thoughts and brings anything that revolves around "X" to your awareness.

This is called the Ironic process theory.
To stop worrying about what others think, we first need to dig deeper and find out where the worry originates.

Human beings are social creatures, we evolved in tribes. So we are wired to seek the attention and approval of our peers.

And to a certain degree, it's even healthy.
Because it lays down the foundation for feeling understood and valued, which is essential.

But an incessant need to feel validated can divorce us from our true selves.
As long as you crave external validation, you'll never feel at one with yourself and unconsciously behave in ways that don't serve you.

It's something I've struggled with and still do to some extent. Writing publicly forced me to confront it.
I found myself obsessing about subscribers, open rates, followers, retweets, etc.

Which then made me aware of other subtle validation-seeking behaviors I had not noticed.

This need for external validation was blocking my creativity and authentic expression.
So I had to dig deeper and figure out what was going on in my mind. Let's understand where things go wrong.

From the moment we are born, we feel an unquenchable need for attention. But the thing with attention is that there's only so much of it to go around.
As we grow and separate from our mother, we face the real world where our needs are not instantly gratified.

We realize that we cannot be dependent on others for attention and recognition.
So we construct a self, an image of ourselves that comforts us and makes us feel validated from within. This self is made up of our tastes, our beliefs, our values.

If the process goes well, we get a self that we can cherish and love.
In moments of loneliness and self-doubt, we can retreat to this self and soothe ourselves.

But more often than not, this process does not go smoothly. Our early experiences shape our sense of self.
Stressful events in childhood β€” like physical punishments, social isolation, poor academic performance, bullying β€” get internalized into the self.
When we have a poor self-image, we become dependent on others for attention and recognition.

The need for external validation stems from a lack of internal validation.
In serious cases, where there's a sharp break in early psychological development, usually due to neglectful (or overprotective) parents, the child fails to construct a consistent and realistic feeling of a self.

This is what happens with deep narcissists.
They have no self to retreat to, no foundation for self-esteem.

And so they become completely self-absorbed trying to fill that gaping hole. This is why narcissists lack empathy.
They usually develop a grandiose sense of self-importance to over-compensate for the lack of self-esteem.

In introverts, narcissism can often fly under the radar (vulnerable narcissism) and is often characterized by traits of defensiveness and hypersensitivity.
It is ironic that self-love has come to be associated with narcissism when the source of the problem for narcissists is that they have no cohesive self to love.

Here's the truth though. Narcissism exists as a continuum and we all fall somewhere on the spectrum.
We worry about what others think of us.

We like people who share our ideas for they reflect our "good" taste.

We project our best qualities and insecurities onto others.

We are susceptible to flattery.

We spend too much time inside our heads think about ourselves.
We have an inner monologue running even while talking with other people.

Social media has only made it worse. But I won't open that can of worms right now.

We are all self-absorbed β€” it's the degree that varies.
In his book, The Laws of Human Nature, Greene divides narcissists into three categories β€” deep narcissists, functional narcissists, and healthy narcissists.

Deep narcissists are completely self-absorbed. They cannot empathize with others. To them, people are means to an end.
They don't have the self-esteem to raise themselves out of it and attention is their only way of survival.

Functional narcissism is the category most of us fall into. We have moments of deep narcissism, but we've a coherent self that prevents us from falling deep into ourselves.
Healthy narcissists have a stronger and resilient sense of self. So they don't need as much validation from others. They accept their flaws and imperfections. So criticisms and insults don't disturb them.
From this position of inner strength, they can effortlessly and frequently direct their attention outward.

This attention flows into two directions β€” work and relationships.
Healthy narcissists are able to achieve deeper levels of focus in their work.

Not needing external validation, they can entertain broader possibilities and channel more creativity, creating great art and innovations in the process.
On the scale of self-absorption, the realm of empathy lies on the negative side, wherein we transcend self-absorption and become completely absorbed in others.

Healthy narcissists are able to give quality attention to the people around them, developing deep relationships.
Our goal should be to rise above our native self-absorption and transform into healthy narcissists.

And to do that, counterintuitively, we need to start with self-acceptance and self-compassion.

Love yourself.
On that note, feel free to show some love to the first tweet. :)

Every Sunday, I send out an email dissecting some aspect of the human mind

If you can spare a few mins every week, I’ll help you develop a strong understanding of how your mind works

So that you can have more control over your thoughts, behavior & life


β€’ β€’ β€’

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More from @kunaaaaaal

27 Sep
How Meditation Alters the Brain (πšπš‘πš›πšŽπšŠπš)

Here's how meditation changes the brain β€” structurally and functionally
For a long time, I dismissed meditation as spiritual woo-woo.

How could closing your eyes and focusing on your breathe or thoughts or whatever make any difference?

To my "rational" (and ignorant) mind, it made no sense.
Sometime last year, I read up on the science of meditation. And it made me feel stupid for ignoring it all these years.

So for over a year, I've meditated almost daily. I'm not going to talk about the (life-changing) benefits I've experienced. Because your mileage may vary.
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19 Sep
How to Hack Willpower (πšπš‘πš›πšŽπšŠπš)

We know what we need to do to get where we want to.

We know the things that we need to avoid and cut out.

But when it comes to making things happen, we often fail to follow-through and give in to our temptations.
We fail to win these battles because in that moment we lack the required willpower to overcome the resistance.

Imagine what your life would look like if you had the ability to avoid all distractions and check off everything on your to-do list.
You wouldn't be a slave to your urges and feelings.

You'd be able to prioritize the things that are truly important to you.

You'd have freedom in the true sense.

But we can't just think our way into increased willpower. It's not a question of "mental grit".
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12 Sep
Why Exercise? β€” The Neurobiological Benefits of Exercise

How working out can make you happier, smarter, driven, and focused.

π„π¦π¨π­π’π¨π§πšπ₯ π’π­πšπ­πž

Let’s start with what you already know β€” exercise makes you feel good. Why?

The standard answer is endorphins. They kill off any pain or stress and produce a feeling of euphoria.

However, endorphins are only a small part of the picture.
Exercise also boosts the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

Altogether, these three neurotransmitters heavily influence your productivity, energy, and happiness.

Serotonin regulates your mood, appetite, sleep, and overall sense of well-being.
Read 21 tweets
23 Aug
The broader impact of this change on society would be interesting.

I'd highly recommend reading Tao Te Ching. It will help you appreciate the beauty of this cultural shift.

Some loose thoughts follow. <thread>
I'm personally going through this shift and it has been cathartic.

My previous frame was very achievement-oriented.

I used to think that it was important to have a strong self-narrative.. a strong why... a story that motivates you.
But when you do that, you're chasing an external ideal

You think there's a destined place out there and once you get to it you'd have truly arrived.

You pick certain goals based on how you've been conditioned by others (parents/society/twitter).

Read 11 tweets
7 Aug
How to Win Arguments (πšπš‘πš›πšŽπšŠπš)
I used to spend a lot of time arguing with people.

About anything and everything. Offline and online.

It gave me a rush. I wasted a lot of time and energy doing it. And often acted like an asshole.
I've tried to fix that over the last year.

The first step was to recognize that I had a problem. Grateful to have friends who pointed it out.

I realized that this compulsive behavior was my ego β€œstriving for superiority” to counteract not feeling good enough.
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28 Jul
π—§π˜‚π—»π—Άπ—»π—΄ π—Όπ˜‚π˜ π˜π—΅π—² π—»π—Όπ—Άπ˜€π—²

Realize that you are constantly being conditioned by society.

We don’t construct our beliefs out of thin air. We consciously or unconsciously adopt them from our environment.

And in this digital environment, we bombard ourselves with information round the clock. Drowning out our own inner voice.

There are powerful forces out there trying to manipulate how you think and what you believe.

You gotta protect your individuality.
That’s why, from time to time, tune out the noise and spend time with yourself. Solitude is important.

To make it a habit, set aside 30 mins for a walk in nature every day. It will do wonders for your mental state.
Read 4 tweets

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