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Narcissistic habits ruining my freedom

When I was younger I used to love drawing, writing, music, creative stuff. I would spend hours inventing cartoons and stories and learning new music on my keyboard. I loved being in the moment and I didnt care about achieving for the sake of showing off or proving anything to anyone.

But, my Dad’s obsession with me having excellent grades and my Mum’s obsession with me as her Golden child ruined that freedom. And, I think it has created a narcissistic obsession with achievement for others and for society. Coupled with depression, this has made me feel like a procrastinating mess.

I am 33 now. I am disconnected in a strange way. I know I love those things I did, but I cannot feel it anymore. I have my art stuff, my electric piano, my guitar, my drumsticks, but they are hardly touched.

Nothing flows. I know that my mental health struggles have eclipsed my passion, but I am now at the point where I am frozen. I do not know where to go next. Proceeding feels confused. What do I do first? What is best for me?

To do things for myself is hard. Inevitably, I end up associating everything I do with a pathological need to achieve. ‘I am great! I can be exceptional! Here, world, here I am, the amazing me, one of the greats!’

I am trapped in this self-absorption. And, I do not know what it feels like not to think about myself in this way anymore. I feel so self-obsessed that it is sickening. I am so mentally caged in that I have rendered myself immobile. I do nothing. And, pushing myself works for a limited time only. Inevitably I give up. I cannot be bothered. There is no point. Capitalism wants to monetize my work. Or, I have been trained by society to monetize and commodity my art which I am sick of hearing!

‘You are so good at this, darling, you should do this when you grow up!’ says every other parent to a talented child.

But, this narrative has ruined me.

I feel forever tied to capitalism and it’s expectations that I should wage my art and that I have to show it to the world because I owe it to the world for people to see my work.

I hope I free my mind soon. If anyone has any words of wisdom or advice, I welcome it.

Thank you.

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Nadakan,

It feels like layers and layers of mud on top of a masterpiece…your heart is so beautiful…and yet, it feels trapped underneath the depression, underneath the pressures and expectations, underneath the economics of life, underneath the feelings of worthlessness, underneath the need to be validated, underneath the need to compete and compare…it’s layers and layers and layers of hardened mud that encases this heart that feels so faint at this point, but that you still remember…you still remember the freedom and the joy that once freely flowed from you…the creativity that came naturally and with ease…it felt like your life, your goodness, was readily available, and now you wonder if it even whispers…if it’s even accessible through everything that’s on top of it.

The good news is that yes, you can be free. Your heart can once again shine. You are not lost forever.

The good news also is that it is within your grasp to influence that change. While your parents may have influenced your shaping, it has been your choices since then that have re-affirmed what you feared most…it has been your competing and striving and self-validating only according to accomplishments that has hardened your heart. The reason that I mention this is because it’s important to realize that you have the ability to choose differently now. You can choose to self-validate in other ways, to love yourself on account of other reasons, to experiment and live in a different way that better serves and breathes life into your heart. It is possible.

I think it often starts with something simple. Picking up your guitar and strumming one chord today. Play one chord and put it back down. Then do it again tomorrow. Gain momentum before you focus on gaining joy. Just touch your instrument, touch something that gives you life for a few days in a row. Once you gain momentum with a thing – it doesn’t matter the volume of activity, but the consistency – then you can begin to engage with it easier and often with less weight or shame or guilt or whatever. I wouldn’t over analyze this, honestly, I would just get started by engaging with something that lights your heart up…reawaken it. Get some life and movement and motion back into that muscle and let it get stronger. Figure it out as you go, but get some wind back in your sails.

I think you’ll soar again quicker than you hoped.

-Nate

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Nadakan,

Man my heart hurts for you. It’s like all of the things that used to bring you join have been spoiled by the words of reinforcement from your parents, have been spoiled by a need to monetize. You just want to go back to creating at it’s simplest form, for the joy of it. For no other reason, but to create. But now that seems impossible because every time you pick up your instruments or art, there are these little voices in your head that tell you that what your doing only has value if you can be the best at, if you can accomplish something great with it, or if you can make money off of it.

This narrative may have had a hold on your mind for a long time, but I encourage you to remember that wasn’t always the case. You know there used to be a time where you loved creating just for the sake of it, and that means you can get back to that place again. You have to choose to shut down those voices when they come up, choose to create even when it doesn’t have a purpose.

Motivation comes and goes, so it has to be a decision to keep pushing through. If you keep creating eventually the passion will come back and so will the motivation.

Sending love

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@Nadakan

I am in the same boat as you. I used to draw a lot, created projects because I love creating. Now, I can’t do it without thinking it needs to sell. You are not alone in this. Thank you for sharing your story. It helps me to reflect of my own joy and love for art. God bless you.

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I am not sure how to reply to individual posts so this is to all. Thank you for your words. They mean a lot. Nate, what you suggested put some relief in my mind. When you mentioned to start small, I felt better. Whenever I have started something again, I end up trying to aim at something bigger which then puts the pressure on.

And Taylor, you are right about motivation. For a long time I thought that motivation must come from inspiration, which therefore must also come without trying. This is also why I used to wonder ‘do I really love these things anymore?’. A few months ago I did some art and I answered my own question. Yes, i love it as much as I used to. I am just out of practise and out of that mindset.

I will work to push through these narratives. I would love to start seeing things through, to start my own projects and finish them. I will get there one day.

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I’m in this position, so I can understand where your coming from. I even told my parents. “In Science, I can either do a C or B” or “I don’t know why I’m failing in math tests.” My parents are obsessed of me having grateful grades than my talents. It’s funny because, I always hear this phrase from them, “Why are you smart if your grades are failing.” Simple answer, it’s because I’m only smart in my creativity that they made me lose as time goes on. I can tell you this, I’m 14 trying my best to find some kind of melody to a music I wanted play. Not from anyone else rather than my own creation but, inspired from them. But, because my parents are so persistent on me having good grades. I’m starting to sacrifice my school priories. You know what else? They say my talent won’t go anywhere except my education. But one day, I’ll prove that wrong to say, “Not every lesson in school is useful when people with the mind of artist or rather themselves is their RIGHT to choose what they want to do and what they wanted to continue than your OWN expectations!”

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