I hadn’t imagined that I’d be talking about narcissism in Episode 30 of the Unstoppable Woman podcast but after attending a recent business retreat in Noosa I knew this had to be the subject I dived deeper into.
Sitting among sixty women all working to grow their business and create the lives that they want to live – I couldn't believe that when it came to idea of stepping into their light nearly every woman was wrestling with her own mind on promoting herself and her business.
When asked why they gave reasons such as "I don’t want people to think I’m a narcissist, that I’ve got this deluded sense of self-importance and a need for admiration".
Nearly everyone had a narrative that said " I why would anyone care about what I’ve got to share and who would listen?".
It got me thinking and self-reflecting. I had this beautiful moment of Sonder. The moment that I realised that everyone was feeling the same way I had (and sometimes still did) in my own journey of building my business and specifically a personal brand.
As I thought back to my corporate career and all of the women that I have coached, I saw how clearly this same thread was there. A desire not to self-promote or publicly acknowledge their achievements. Instead it felt more comfortable giving credit to their team or others to deflect the attention away from themselves.
I had this realisation as I connected the dots.
Women everywhere are dimming their lights and not letting themselves be seen for fear of being seen by others as a narcissist.
The penny had finally dropped and with it came my own freedom.
I had been thinking the same and as a result I was also playing small. While people had observed me writing my books, launching my online courses, my podcast, writing blogs, running webinars I was always very mindful to downplay the work that I had done.
For example, I barely promoted my books – I wrote them, published them and then didn’t sing about them at all from the roof tops.
Am I proud of myself for writing my books? Damn straight I am!
Do I think women will benefit from reading them – Hell Yes!
So, why exactly was I stopping myself from promoting them?
Because I too did not want to be considered narcissistic - to appear self involved.
Now let’s get something clear. I am not a narcissist and if you've stopped to read this or listen to my podcast episode - its’ unlikely you are either.
If you’ve picked up anything about me by now you’ll know I share plenty about what I get wrong in my pursuit of being an unstoppable woman and having worked for a narcissist in my corporate career – sharing what mistakes they’ve made doesn’t form part of their identity!
Ok so let’s get clear on what narcissism looks like so you know for sure it’s not you.
It’s extreme self-involvement. Essentially you are so focussed on you that it makes you disregard others and their feelings
A common trait is manipulative or controlling behaviour. A narcissist will at first try to please you and impress you, but eventually, their own needs will always come first.
When relating to other people, narcissists will try to keep people at a certain distance to maintain control. They may even exploit others to gain something for themselves.
One of my ex-bosses would be what I’d lovingly (!) describe as a narcissist.
They have a need for constant admiration and praise. A need for validation from others and they often brag about their accomplishments to boost their ego.
Narcissists see themselves as superior to others and demonstrate arrogance to show you how inferior you are.
They demonstrate a sense of entitlement and feel deserving of special treatment, often bragging and being elitist.
When I looked at that those traits it was very evident to me that all of the women I was working with through my coaching / self leadership programs and also talking to at the retreat were not narcissists and neither was I!
What I would call us instead of narcissists is this - I’d call us minimisers.
I’ve been a minimiser the majority of my life. Playing small, not celebrating my accomplishments, not shouting out about my achievements. I avoided doing this because I didn’t want people to think I was a narcissist and now it’s evident that I’m not a narcissist, what I am I really seeing is the impact of me not sharing more about myself.
I’m seeing that when I don’t share my journey and celebrate my successes, I’m encouraging other women to do the same. I’m a big believer of you must be in integrity with your words and actions. So, if I’m cheerleading for others and not myself then I’m not being in integrity with myself.
If your doing the same - minimising yourself but maximising others - then it's likely you're being out of integrity with yourself too.
I realised that if I’m minimising my work even in the knowledge it could help others find their voice, their gifts and talent and I know, in my heart, that the ripple effect of them standing in their power would have such a positive impact on the world, then I’m not helping women break the glass ceiling I’m actively living under the glass ceiling that I’ve created for myself.
The ‘aha’ moment that beautiful moment of sonder was the realisation that too many women are minimising themselves to because they too have confused maximising with narcissism.
But maximising is different and here’s why:
Maximising looks like this:
Recording this podcast episode of my podcast was such a joy – It's helped me see that I’ve certainly stepped into the light and no longer hiding behind own shadow. I still feel scared at times but I self soothe with compassion for myself and my own growth.
So, my beautiful unstoppable woman. If you have chosen to minimise yourself because you have confused maximising for narcissism.
Know that you are not a narcissist so stop minimising and start maximising your life today.
Love Glin x
Image Credit @Tina Tower - Her Empire Builder Retreat.