This guest post was written by Joe Bunting of The Write Practice.
I came across this interesting quote from psychologist Alexander Lowen:
I would like to experience more joy. Wouldn’t you? Isn’t joy what life is really about?
“To experience joy, one must be free of anxieties about letting go and expressing feeling. Or to put it differently, one has to be carefree and innocent as a child.”—Alexander Lowen
I first got into writing because I felt this explosion of feeling, like I could release everything I was on the page and fill it with beautiful and terrible truths. Sometimes I get so excited about writing, my eyes fill with tears. It’s a great experience.
This is life experienced to its fullest. But then I look at my pageviews and my game face goes on. All I care about is the numbers. Immediately, my joy fizzles out like soda gone flat.
Lowen continues, “Narcissists are neither carefree nor innocent.” Have I become a narcissist? Here are four narcissistic blogger tendencies:
1. You worry about your image
Is my design interesting enough? Will viewers bounce immediately after seeing it? Are my tweets funny enough? Do I post/tweet too much? Do I post/tweet too little?
2. You attempt to get people to respond to you the way you want them to
Why aren’t people commenting? How do I get them to comment more? I need more comments!
3. If you’re not in control, you become panicky
My views were supposed to go up this week! Why are they going down? Why aren’t people sharing my Tweet? It was really funny! Why the heck aren’t people commenting?
4. You look for ways to make people do what you want them to do
Read my blog. Comment on my blog. Share my blog. Like my blog. Tweet my blog. Please retweet. If my views don’t go up, I’ll be an insecure wreck.
Do you have any of these tendencies? I know I do.
True confession: One time I went to a party with some friends just after publishing a really great blog post. When I got there, I didn’t have a deep connection with the divine. Instead, I felt, These people are lucky to have me. I’m a really good writer. What a great resource I am for them.
I cared more about my image than spending quality time with the people I loved.
Not quite five tips to become less narcissistic and experience more joy
The truth is that I’d like to give you five tips on how to be less narcissistic. I’d like to give you seven bullet points on how to be a more loving, less self-conscious, more joyful person.
But I’m not sure it would help.
My all-time favorite TEDtalk is from researcher Brene Brown. She said, “We don’t need more tips. We pretty much know the right way to live. ‘How to’ isn’t working.”
Instead, I’m going to give you just one.
We don’t need more tips on how to live more joyful, less narcissistic life. Instead, we need openness, honesty, and vulnerability. The secret to fighting shame and narcissism is to feel your feelings, to share them without concern of getting hurt (you might get hurt, by the way).
There is no secret. There is no key to effective non-narcissism. There is no tip to experience joy.
There is only yourself. You as you really are. Unhidden and unashamed.
Do you struggle with blogging narcissism? Do you want to be sophisticated? Share your own true confession here. Feel free to comment anonymously if it’s too personal.
Joe Bunting is a professional writer, fiction editor, and platform consultant. You can follow Joe on Twitter and download a copy of his eBook, 14 Prompts, for free.
I must admit, some of the narcissistic feelings and actions you describe here hit a little close to home for myself and I have to admit it can be a little demoralising in certain cases (especially in reference to blogging).
I try your tip of “be real” in my approach to blogging and put my blog within the public eye all the time – I just hope I can reap the benefits of it.
Thanks Kris. Just remember to be real with your friends and family, too. They’re the people who will keep you grounded as you build your blog.
awesome…I certainly can tell from that definition that I have been a bit narcissistic….feeling like I don’t get enough comments, even worrying about someone unfollowing me.
I used to worry about my comments SO much. For good reason and for bad. Now that I get a healthy amount of comments on most posts I get all embarrassed for the posts that seem to be “under-performing” on comments. It’s a weird thing.
I like this advice. It’s easy said than done, of course. There’s a ton of advice out there about publicizing a blog and branding for writers. So it takes a separate skill these days to learn to simply be oneself aside from the branded self or persona writers are often required to create in order to support themselves for a living.
Great point. I hadn’t thought about the difference between branding and this post.
I think many of us might fall into some of these bad narcissistic habits from time to time. It is good to have a reminder now and again to be humble… and as your pointed out, above all to be “real”
Agreed, Steve. Most of us have bits of narcissism in us. Some of it is even probably healthy. You have to have self-interest. But humility buts a good boundary on that.
Ha… by “buts” I mean puts.
I can relate to getting caught up in the numbers when my blog is really more of a hobby then anything else. Being honest is important and I hope that when people do read my posts, they are getting some idea about me. It is an interesting concept though.
I’m sure they do, Dina.
Great post Joe! I found myself chuckling even as I was searching for that darn fly on the wall behind me. :) I guess we tend to get that way as bloggers. Thanks for the reminder.
It’s so easy to do, to turn blogging into a game rather than helping people.
Confession: I spend way too much time refreshing the stats page.
Oh no. You’re a Refresh person. That’s the worst.
I’ve gotten hooked on Google Analytics real time metrics though. It’s so cool.
My tip? STOP LOOKING AT THE DAMN STATS!!! Ever since Google Analytics updated their system so that stats can be seen the same day, it’s been a struggle not to check in all the time :-/
Oh I know. Real time? It’s crazy addicting.
Whoa! These are some GREAT points. I would catch myself doing a few of these and began to realize that obsessing over things like this made me feel worse. So I just did my best and let go of the rest. Great post, Joe.
Thanks Dwayne. Do your best and let go of the rest. I like that.
This serves to be an excellent reminder for the rest of us as well. Sometimes it does take an element of being able to become more focused on solutions for our readers instead of focusing on what we want from them. The trick I have found that works for me is to be honest and direct. In most cases, I’ve seen the best improvement with that!
Isn’t it amazing how easily we turn the attention from our readers to ourselves. If we focus on helping others, we’ll get views. If we focus on our own needs, we’ll be shunned. Great points here, Michael. Thanks for reading.
Great blog post – just what I needed to hear right now. Also a good impetus to add Brene Brown to my reading list – I love that TED talk too.
Awesome, Amy. Yes. She’s incredible.
I’ve always struggled with the idea that part of being a blogger is definitely acknowledging a little bit of narcissism, all while trying not to be a narcissist!
What a great post. I think I need to comment (just did) and tweet it (will do) then spread the word to all of my friends about what I read (as opposed to what you wrote). :)
Haha. Very funny. You’ve got an interesting point about the necessary battle between self-promotion and humility as a blogger, Dee Dee. I’ll have to think about that more.
Nice post Joe! Obsession is a part of blogging, I guess :-) First you become obsesses with design, then with comments lol.
You’re probably right. But I hope we can move beyond that to obsession with helping people!
I love the quote by Alexander Lowen because it is true. So much for my post on the “Top 5 Ways to Be more Joyful.”
I am more of a fan of one on one coaching for real personal change instead of the How To posts even though I have written a bunch of them.
My main concern with my blog is that I am adding value to someone’s life. If I am doing that then all is well for the most part. The blog design and navigation is important but not the end all be all.
You’ve got so many great points here, Justin. It sounds like you’re doing pretty good with this stuff.
Thanks Joe… I appreciate your connection to blogging. It’s easy to put in tremendous effort, write great quality articles, etc. and then become narcissistic about it all!
Since I’ve focused on enjoying what I’m doing despite the pure numbers, it’s been great.
Guilty as charged but thankfully over the holidays I was enlightened, great post x @danimezza
Interesting. So did you take a break from your blog during the holidays? Sometimes I find taking a step back helps you regain perspective.
Ooh, very nice post indeed Joe. I’d be one big liar if I didn’t worry about a few of the things you mentioned.
It’s nice to take a little reality check like that. I especially love your summary.. “Be Real”.
Yep, that about sums it up! Thanx again..an enjoyable read…
I still struggle with this. But it’s definitely gotten much better than a year ago. I think there was time where I was so worried about post not being “perfect” that when someone actually commented on it, I almost told them to delete it.
Embarrassed to admit it, but I’m also glad I didn’t actually do it.
Great post. woke me up.
Haha that’s perfectionism to the max, Brandon. Great confession. I appreciate the honesty.
I totally agree. I found myself being too wrapped up in worrying what people thought about my writing. I switched to podcasting and found freedom to be me. I’m using two methods. First, a long-form podcast where I interview colleagues and experts and a short podcast where I’m paying a guy to interview me. We transcribe the short ones and turn them into written posts as well. I’m turning that idea into a business where I provide the interviewer/producer, the article based on the transcript and do all the posting.
Narcissistic is my middle name – great post very true & something to think about …
Good post! I definitely have a few of these characteristics, but I try to not let them take over. I’m always fussing with my blog design, for example, but there *is* a baseline somewhere for a decent-looking blog, seems to me. And I just have to let it go even though I know it’s not up to my standards (it used to be pretty rough!)–have to. Mostly want to say thanks for the TED link: I wasn’t aware of her. Good stuff! Thanks.
Blogging is a medium that sure shines the spotlight on how we live, feel, are affected and react. I’ve too often been too affected by the WPT’s (what people think) and that’s so affected my comfort level with what I’m willing to share … for fear of rejection, appearing foolish and just messin’ up.
On the other side of the same coin is insecurity. I think that narcissism is major compensation for a deep lack of self worth or adequate and accurate perceived value and confidence. Either way the focus is on SELF, how I’m appearing, how amazing (or not) I am, and whether or not I’m good enough. This is paralyzing, damaging, disabling. And negates transparent relationships.
I’m doing my best to let go of this in many areas and “Be Real” as you say. And do this in spite of how I’ve been programmed to feel and react.
But, and this is a big but (because “I’m not sure it would help” – love that!), along with being real the best remedy I know of to get out of self: help others.
I think the cure for this is just be yourself. Express what you feel. Don’t ever care about what people will say as long as you are happy.
This is a unique perceptive on bloggers. In blogging, there is a fine line between being narcissistic and obsessive. After all, our blogs are like our products or our businesses. We have ownership over everything, so therefore we worry about everything. But you are right, when we are off the clock, we should just put it away and enjoy ourselves.
Guilty as charged. I liked the post. I am only in the beginning of blogging and I am not quite sure yet what am I doing or even if to tell my friends that I have a blog because I am just thinking “What will they think?” On the other hand, I want people to visit my site even when I don’t speak about it. But one thing is for sure: I like blogging (so far).
I’m in the same boat as you, Carlos.
I’m new to blogging and even though I want people to visit my blog (and comment), I haven’t told any of my friends and family about my blog.
You’ve got to tell your friends and family!
Don’t worry though, David. As long as you try to give more than you take, you’ll get your comments. Thanks for reading!
I will say I was this kind of blogger a year back- always panicking on slightest of downfall. But now I have learned the ways of good, effective blogging
Helpful red flags here.
Nothing wrong with being self-confident, of course, but when you fall in love with yourself, things get dicey….because your blog is read by more people than you, and if you do things without keeping your readers in mind, you will be an audience of 1.
Speak from the heart. Let it all out. Do not hesitate to be criticized, be at peace with it. It will happen. But always engage whenever possible, allow different points of view in the comments section, be willing to let go and trust (you are NEVER in control lol), and enjoy the heck out of the process.
When I learned to let go, write, and enjoy the process, life became easier. I became less of an inward-thinking dude, and more of a helper, a servant, someone who seeks to help someone with each blog post.
Thanks for sharing your insight Joe!
I love this. Thanks, Ryan. Great comment.
And yes, self-confidence is a must. Narcissism, not so much.
I have the opposite problem where blogging is concerned. I feel like I can’t do what you guys are doing. I’m a writer, but all the blogging things that you guys find easy, I find very hard to do. This is validated when I look at my adsense each day and the total (for 5 blogs) is a few pennies. This will knock your confidence if anything else will, especially if you work for hours each day on your blogs.
I really did appreciate your candidness. It was very refreshing.
““To experience joy, one must be free of anxieties about letting go and expressing feeling. Or to put it differently, one has to be carefree and innocent as a child.”
This is me all over.
Outstanding! This is one of the most original posts I’ve read online in a while.We read so much about getting more traffic, more conversions, more out of yourself, etc. It’s refreshing (and powerful) to come at it from a fresh angle… less! Worry less, fret less, and spend less time thinking about self.
I once let an unfollow ruin my day. Someone unfollowed me (publicly) because I never followed them back. I was crushed. How dare they?! My youngest daughter said, “That’s not a biggie. People unfollow people all the time.” After a little sulking, I realized it wasn’t a “biggie” and let it go.
Great post. Thanks!
I think most of us fall into this stuff from time to time. We need to constantly remind ourselves of the importance to let go.
For years I tried to be whatever the people around me wanted me to be. I thought my success would come from my image and my ability to be all things to all people.
And there were still people that didn’t like me.
Now I am just me, and guess what? There are still people who don’t like me, but I am more me than I’ve ever been.
And that is a lot less stressful.
Writing on the internet often means speaking to a void filled with many eyes and few voices. It can be very exciting. But it helps to understand where you are and not be unhappy because there are so few still reflections to see yourself in. It is an exercise to cure narcissism in fact. And many people are not understanding this, or motivated enough, to continue with it for long.
I thought that the word “blog” meant “listen to me talk about what I want to talk about”?
I’m okay with that even if it is a little narcissistic
Interesting post, Joe.
I think most Bloggers want their words and thoughts to be appreciated in some way or another.
Though, Blogging should be a two way street. We should concentrate on what visitors(readers) desire, just as much as fulfilling our own Narcissistic needs.
Staying true to my life mission and have fun on the way is what keep me motivated. I learn a lot from my 10 yr-old son about having fun. Many times I am trapped into being so serious, on techniques, on concerns, that make me forget to enjoy the ride. My son when he gets stuck, he just rides his scooter around the house, and get back inside happy. I want to experience the same sensation with my blogging too. That’s the reason I started all this. Because I love writing and expressing those inspirational thoughts. Good article. Thanks for sharing.
I’d like to take this opportunity to share my feelings. I’m a bit chilly and thinking about getting a pizza or a cup of excellent Starbucks coffee. Oh! I have a hangnail. Cancel previous plans. I don’t want to be sophisticated and erudite, I already am. Thus, my every bodily function is of interest to my fans. Self centered? Do you have a suggestion for a better center for the Universe? I didn’t think so.
I agree that it’s important to be genuine. I used to have a real problem with being myself while blogging. I
feel I’m getting better at it, though. :)