Narcissism and NO! Self-Defense in The Age of Celebrity.
Again, Huffington Post brings on a battery of comments and interest in the rampant narcissism in our culture. While most of the comments were tales of personal woe and frustration, many commentators saw the much larger picture–how the narcissistic character is not only prevalent but promoted and nourished in the Age of Celebrity.
This is a small excerpt I’m pleased to share with you.
You’d think that saying “no” would be a simple thing. It has a quick meaning and only two letters. It has a strong survival component, and we literally can’t live without it.
So why does it pose so many problems?
We know we don’t like to hear it; it means that we’re not going to get our way, or that someone is disagreeing with us. But why, even when we want to or desperately need to, is it so hard to say?
Ten or so years ago I helped teach an abuse-awareness program aimed at young children in preschool and kindergarten. The program was called “Good Touch, Bad Touch” and was designed to teach the children how to recognize inappropriate behavior and then help them know what to do about it. We also had a segment on abduction prevention. In it we presented different scenarios in which a child was lured away by a grownup. As I recall, in one scenario the adult utilized a puppy as a lure; in another, he needed the child to help him with something (a sure sign something is wrong, because adults don’t ask little children for help); and in another the adult offered candy.
What we found over time was that the scenarios landed on deaf ears. Even though we repeated the program a few times during the school year, the children always failed the test at the end. In the test they were asked to role-play the child and reject the abductor by pulling away and yelling, “He’s not my daddy/mommy!” In nearly every single case, despite all the encouragement and preparation, the children went quietly with the adult perpetrator.
Even though a few children were good screamers and one little boy with an impishly beautiful face nearly yanked my arm out of its socket, the overwhelming majority of the children would have been lost had they ever had the misfortune of being in that situation for real.
Frankly, it scared us all silly. None of the people involved with the program could understand why the results were so dismal. Variables had been jostled: different teachers, different times of the day, different presentation styles, different emphases and intensities, all to no avail.
One day, instead of having the children role-play at the end, I had them role-play from the very beginning. The enactment would be the teaching tool instead of the test. And, lo and behold, they got it.
What part of “no” didn’t they understand?