Service: The Antidote to Narcissism.

We all have been with self-centered, egotistical, and even narcissistic individuals.  Perhaps we have been that way in the past or even are that way now.  Odds are, however, that if you are reading this, you are interested in bettering yourself and not going down the road of the narcissist.  However, we all have tendencies to be selfish.  That is simply part of human nature.  

Narcissists are Insecure

At the core of a narcissist is an individual that does not think highly of himself or herself.  The sad thing is that perhaps they don't even know it.  They may simply be manifesting a fake side or front to cover a deeply rooted hatred of themselves.  Understanding this is the first step in turning those negative, destructive attitudes into more positive, self affirming ones.  

Service is the Key

When we serve others, we don't think about ourselves and concentrate on the others.  We give freely our time and energy so that others may benefit from our work.  This should be above and beyond the natural service of our jobs.  Many times a month, when individuals "thank me for my service" for being in the military, I appreciate their comments but with temperance. I realize that I was fulfilling a job or duty and think of it less as service.  Service implies a selfless act that is not associated with any type of compensation or even perhaps recognition.  When we truly serve others, we don't ask or expect anything in return.  If we expect something in return, whether that something is monetary or otherwise, we enter into a more transaction oriented relationship and less of a service oriented relationship.  

Serve Freely and Serve Often

How mush should you serve?  As often and as freely as possible.  If you find yourself even wishing for a moment for a reciprocation of your actions, then stop thinking about how you will gain from the situation.  You are not truly serving.  Remember that true service is selfless and without reciprocation.  If someone does something great for you in the future, accept it for what it is, not a "pay back."  In that respect, I don't believe or prescribe to karma.  I do prescribe to service.  If you are at home, to more than your perceived fair share of the house work without any regard for what the other person might be doing or not doing.  If you think you are doing more than your fair share, whether you are at work or at home, then stop thinking about that and just continue to accomplish your mission.

Serving Yourself is not Service

Start the week off by making a list of service oriented behavior that you do.  Now cross out the acts that you get paid to do, and then delete the actions that you expect something in return.  How many actions are left?  Don't be surprised if your list is rather small.  That is normal, especially if I have challenged your definition of service this week.  I just want you to know that your list can grow starting today.  You simply have to change the way you think about service and the way you think about your own relationship to it.  Remember that if you get something or expect something in return, you are not truly serving, at least by this definition.  Also, if you are getting monetary benefits from the service, or that it is part of your job, you are not truly serving, at least by my definition.  No need to get upset, let's challenge ourselves to truly serve this week, and nip that narcissistic side of us before it potentially takes us over.

Dr. N

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