Positive vs. Negative Language

Credit Where It Isn't Due

Getting people to do things for them and then taking the credit as if they were the ones who did the work is a common way many people build false confidence. If Mary and John are executives with a very capable secretary/assistant, Mary and John are not actually doing the bulk of the work that causes the stress and anxiety. Their assistant is the one who is making appointments, changing schedules, keeping proper files, keeping things up to date, in order, and easily accessible, remembering things about other people, remembering appointments, etc, etc. Either the assistant or a person who is employed for accounting keeps track of the financial records and accounts receivable and payable.

Someone else is doing the cleaning, someone else is doing the computer maintenance, someone else is doing the bulk of the correspondence. Not Mary or John. If Mary and John did these things themselves, they probably would not be able to handle the actual management job, they would be overwhelmed, drowning in the anxiety of keeping up, organizing, and especially dealing with people directly all day long. Just changing schedules and appointments around and dealing with other people's issues and egos is very draining. They don't have to do all of that tedious and stressful stuff, someone else is doing it for them.

But who is getting, or taking, the credit for doing all of these things, and keeping things running smoothly so Mary and John can do their jobs?

If Mary and John are not narcissists, they give the credit where it's due, and don't take credit for things they did not actually DO. But if they are narcissistic, they will see all these people as "below" them, and less capable than themselves, doing menial tasks that they could do in their sleep if they felt like it, OR they will see those people as OTHER "KINDS" of people who were "born" to do those jobs, and themselves as "born" to be an executive. Narcissists are often missing a cognitive function that relates to cause and effect. They see the secretary as the "kind of person" who is born to be a secretary, and could never be an executive, or anything else for that matter. They see themselves as the top of the heap, and everyone who is performing tasks that they consider "below" them as lower "kinds" of people who are SUPPOSED to be doing those jobs FOR THEM. They take the credit for these jobs getting done as if those people are extensions of themselves, not capable, intelligent, individual human beings who happen to be performing that particular task, and doing it well.

This dynamic can be seen in all kinds of situations, it's definitely not exclusive to big business. It can be seen in any dynamic at all. It does not have to be the owner or manager who is doing this, either, it can be anyone, a coworker, a friend, a family member, a small business owner, a landlord, a neighbor, a doctor, a carpenter, a teacher, a janitor, a lawyer, a secretary, anyone at all can have this behavior and perception. It's not the job that creates narcissistic traits and behaviors (although some jobs can encourage it), it's the person's own perception.

The contractor who takes credit for all his or her subcontractors and employees work, as if he/she was the one performing all of the tasks.
The doctor who takes credit for the nurses' and the staff's work.
The spouse who see the other spouse as nothing more than a support person for his or her own "greatness" in the world, not as a "great" person in their own right and light.
The parent who sees their children as nothing more than reflections of themselves, so they will take credit for their achievements, and berate or cover up their mistakes (which this parent will see as "failure". This parent will also see anything their children do that they don't like, agree with, or understand, as "failure".)
The homeowner who takes credit for any of the work that they hired someone else to do, as if they were the ones who performed the work. "I put a new deck on my house", "I put in new cabinets", "I rewired the house", "I painted the living room" instead of "I had a new deck put on my house" or "I had new cabinets put in" or "I had the house rewired" or "I had the living room painted".
Language is subtle and powerful, and narcissists use it to paint themselves as much more capable than they really are. If a person uses language like this, it doesn't necessarily mean they ARE a "narcissist", they may have picked it up from those around them who speak this way. However, if they squirm and show anxiety or anger when asked a direct question like "How long did it take you to paint it?" that's an indication that they probably are actually a "Narcissist". The non-narcissist answer to that question would be something like "Oh I didn't paint it, I meant I hired someone to do it. It was Maggie Nelson, I have her card, she and her partner Natalie did a great job."

Misery Loves Company

Something a lot of people don't like to talk about~ being Misery-Minded.

Many have the concept backwards; they will call a person who self-reflects and self-examines, who looks analytically at human behavior, and past and present situations and interactions, and talks about it out loud, as "dwelling in negativity".

Actually, a person who wants to prevent future problems is the one who is looking, analyzing, and talking about the past and the present. The person who desires improvement is the one who is finding out what patterns there are in themselves and others, clarifying what really went on in the past (what was really done or said, not what the rumors have been), and looking objectively at what's going on in the present, with themselves and those around them.

Those who are actually Misery-Minded don't LIKE to talk about things objectively. They may actually be using their "misery" to feel grounded, and to feel like they belong. Misery is the easiest thing to use to connect with other people, everyone pays attention if a person is complaining about their job, their health, their money, their kids, their spouse, their parents, their other friends, their pets, their car, etc, and when people are paying attention to us, they aren't rejecting us.

Misery is also a way to get attention without coming across as bragging, and most people will suddenly start treating a person who is talking about their "misery" with respect, even if they did not before.

Those who are Misery Minded DO like to complain, but DON'T want any solutions to their problems. They will have an excuse why any suggestion is not going to work before they have tried it. They don't want to talk about the issue, analyze it, figure out how it started or to find a solution, they just want to complain.

Those who are not Misery Minded may talk quite a lot about problems because they are seeking actual solutions. They are interested in analysis, in finding out what's going on, where the origins of a problem started; they want to know who they can trust to be an ally, and they want to find solutions.

Those who are NOT Misery Minded are like a person who takes an engine apart to see why it's sputtering.
Those who ARE Misery Minded will complain terribly about the sputtering, but will shake a finger at anyone who wants to look under the hood and see what's wrong.