Author Archives: Margot
Author Archives: Margot
Is being vulnerable a weakness or a strength?
A narcissist is convinced of their infallibility and this self-belief gives them great confidence. This can be a strength of course and is necessary to some degree in order to lead others.
When writing Mind Minders I undertook significant research into narcissism. This is a popular term in psychology used to define bullies, those with over-bearing, dominating behaviours.
It resonated while reading on this topic, that our traditional male role model demands a certain level of narcissistic behaviour, including denying being vulnerable. When you think about it, we train our men, in western society, to be decisive and unemotional yet we permit women to be the opposite. Interesting.
It seems to me that narcissism and vulnerability have an important relationship.
If you are afraid of appearing vulnerable, it can cause you to go to extraordinary lengths to make sure you do not appear so. This can often be at the expense of others close to you. For example, if you don’t want to admit you did something wrong, a common reflex is to apportion blame to someone else. If you project blame on to someone else, you are absolved. It’s my observation that we can be really good at tricking ourselves and actually even convincing ourselves that the blame deserves to rest on another party. Tragic for the other party of course, particularly if they are not afraid of being vulnerable and therefore might be just that little bit too willing to take on the mantra of the blame.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this is at the root of much abuse that takes place in Australian households.
But how do we break the cycle? Is vulnerability bad? Can you be a strong, decisive leader AND be willing to appear vulnerable at times?
I believed, when I set out on the research path, that narcissistic behaviour was a camouflage for insecurity … the greater the insecurity the greater the camoflage of self-belief. I explored this in depth in one of my characters in Mind Minders.
It seems to me, if we are willing to be vulnerable, admit our mistakes, admit our short falls, then this is a starting point for self-learning and change. It has to be a good thing. In fact I would go so far as to say that vulnerability is an essential ingredient for any healthy relationship. If one party in a relationship refuses to be vulnerable, then won’t this always present a barrier to communication and conflict resolution?
I believe being willing to be vulnerable at times is essential for a healthy prosperous life.
For more on this topic, check out … Brene Brown, Vulnerability
I used to think my addiction to drinking had control over me, that it ruled me. I saw it as an unsavoury force in my life, dictating my behaviour. It was something to curse when I woke up in the morning with a hangover. It was almost as though I’d personified it … identified it as something external.
[Qualifier: I manage my ‘addiction’ within acceptable social boundaries. Many would argue I’m not even ‘addicted’. I believe I am though as drinking is an almost daily practice, it’s challenging to stop for a period, and I find it hard to imagine stopping all together.]
Last December I read a book called Be by Design, How I be is up to me by Christine McKee. I don’t normally read self-help books but I happened to meet the author and we exchanged self-published books. I’m so glad I did, because reading that book changed my life.
It made me realise that my addiction was not some external force controlling me. ‘How I be is up to me.’ I have an addiction, bad habit, whatever you want to call it, because I want to have it. I drink because I like it. It’s great social fun, relaxing and tastes good. There is no external force controlling me. I’m controlling myself.
The good thing about this shift in perception is that it is the first step towards change … taking responsibility. If I have this habit because I choose to, then I can choose not to have it. Simple … or is it?
My research into neurology for my second book Mind Minders taught me that addiction is a learned habit, a series of neural pathways well-developed, matured and strongly defined. The brain gets used to the influx of foreign particles, the drug, and neurotransmitters become reliant on the chemical transaction, making them lazy and unproductive on their own.
When you stop consuming the chemical, whatever drug, your body still demands it. It must be coaxed, persuaded by another part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex. If commitment to change is strong enough, the prefrontal cortex will override the cravings, enabling us to endure the transition to health again.
In time the neurotransmitters recover and begin to produce their own dopamine and serotonin, restoring the feeling of well-being and satisfaction with life. But that takes time and many addicts relapse before this transition occurs.
The longer we desist in the behaviour/habit, the stronger other neural networks become, including the network which enables us to say ‘NO’.
There is always hope for change if we can just click the override button into gear and when we do, the neurological transition can take place. The really great thing is that we all have this neurological capacity!
I think it helps to understand the mechanics … it gives me hope.
Cows have their own greeting ritual – touching noses. Some can’t be bothered.
Cows have best friends. If one gets let out of the yards before the other, she will wait patiently for her before going off to find food and water.
When a cow is enjoying talking to you, she will shake her head and blow out of her nose.
When they are happy they kick up their back legs and twist their bodies in excitement.
I’ve even seen them, on occasion, stick their tails straight up in the air like a flag. I’m still not quite sure whether this signifies alarm or joy. Either way, it’s quite funny.
Often one cow will care for another if it is sick or lame. For example, she will wait for her friend, nudge her, call and encourage her. Others aren’t interested.
If one cow is a different colour from the rest, other cows will reject her. They will push her away by head-butting and chasing her.
Some cows are bullies and will push others away from feeding bins, hogging it for themselves.
Any chance these behaviours remind you of someone you know?
While travelling around North Queensland recently, camping, I had cause to reflect on the fragility of life.
Exploring the Undara lava tubes made me contemplate the insignificance of human life on the planet. We are at the mercy of the elements … the power of a volcano to erupt, a typhoon to destroy, a tsunami to smother, an earthquake to swallow. The planet forces are unstoppable and devastating, despite our misguided confidence that we rule the planet.
We feel safe in Australia, protected and superior. But other peoples have woken one morning, only to be set upon and murdered by their neighbours in an ethnic cleansing rampage. I wonder whether our sense of security may be nothing more than a thin veil of misguided trust in human nature, especially as we have failed to successfully integrate diversity within our nation.
I heard a doctor, who works at a medical emergency facility, recently say I must tell my family I love them … that I never really know what a day might bring. This day could be the day a loved one’s life is changed forever. Leaving Cape Tribulation on our way to Cooktown, we were the first on the scene to a vehicle burning out of control, the owners safe but panicked and distraught. They had invested their life savings in their motor home … and lost everything.
Yet more. It’s possible that even a few words spoken can have the power to change our life … perhaps devastate a relationship we considered safe and secure.
Life is fragile and each moment of each day must be valued for itself.