In the age of selfies, it certainly seems to be increasingly more common to find what I call the “me” complex. So what am I referring to? These are the people you know that seem to always make everything about them. You tell them you’re going on a trip and instead of saying – that’s awesome, have fun – they are the ones that turn it about themselves – I’m jealous, I’m going on a trip too, I went on a trip last month, Me, me, me.
If we rewind twenty years, I have to ask, was it as prevalent back then? Admittedly twenty years ago I didn’t have much money so most of my focus was on getting stuff done. The people I surrounded myself were also like that, focused on the bigger picture of life, making ends meet. We weren’t absorbed in TV shows, trying to wear the latest fashions, plastic surgery, botox, and things that seemingly elevated a person who’s self-worth comes from external validation. We weren’t taking selfies, first we didn’t have cell phones and second film was expensive and more about taking in the world, our friends, our family, not ourselves. Though had I been in the circles of money back then I wonder if I would have encountered similar self-absorption as we do today.
I have found one of the best tests to how much a person thinks of themselves versus others is during a conflict. It is in those times that our egos are getting attacked and our true colors shine – do we care and consider the other or do we focus on ourselves, self-preservation, defense. I will say if someone is ill-natured and bullying or scapegoating you, any normal person would respond in self-preservation, anything to not let the bully further abuse us. Though taking those exceptions aside, I’ve found normal people having normal conflict can say a lot about who we are as people.
For example, let’s take a basic and very normal occurance early on in relationships – someone says they would like you to come over more. How do you respond – by getting defensive? Blaming them for not doing more themselves? Reminding them of how when you did that one time they weren’t appreciative enough? How on earth could they think you’re not doing enough? You’re a great person, how could they question that! As if the ask is a personal attack. Or do you respond with kindness, how can you rectify the situation – whether it’s adjusting expectations or changing behavior. Wanting to find a solution that creates a positive outcome for everyone. Or maybe instead you get mad at them for bringing it up, saying they are being hurtful to have even asked, because all you can think about is how it reflects on you? Are you saying I’m a lousy partner? This may seem ludicrious but it’s actually quite common. This conversation usually results in the original asker getting nothing and the recipient getting an ego stroke and reassurance of their worth, setting the relationship often into a spiral of unhealthy communications.
Being an INTJ we have been lucky to be blessed with the ability to take situations head on. Not because we like conflict, we actually hate it, but because we value open and honest relationships above all else and will undergo whatever discomfort to achieve it. Which means we are upfront with those in our lives (unless they’ve proven time and again they will only respond by bullying us, blaming us, deflecting on us). So why do I call that lucky? Well, when you don’t tell someone what’s wrong, you hide behind your fears of conflict and discomfort, you never actually see who the other person really is. To be fair, they never see who you are either. They are never given the chance to respond. You can hope if you told them your need that they’d respond with consideration, but in the end you don’t know because you’re not communicating directly.
This blog isn’t really going to get into relationship conflict and communications, when to have it, when not too, when to speak up, when to hold back, etc. It’s more focused on the ‘me complex’ people and some of the challenges we face in interacting with them. The people who’s ego’s are so delicate they take everything personal. This is also connected to the Myer’s Briggs ‘turbulent’ identity, as these types are more prone to see things in the world as being about them – if someone didn’t call, it means something about them, if the boss made them work late, it means something about them, etc. In other words, it’s all about them. Now, I will say most of the ‘me complex’ people I know are usually the first ones to tell you they think about others all the time (who advertises that really?), are the most loyal and good friends (who are they trying to convince?), and the ones that try the hardest in any relationship (really who says that?).
Now I’m not encouraging conflict just to test another person’s behavior, but rather instead of dreading or avoiding conflict when it naturally occurs, use it to build upon your existing relationships. If the person responds in a healthy way, with consideration for you and your well-being, this can only bring the two of you closer. How awesome would that be right! It is important to note, this goes both ways. It takes two healthy people to resolve conflict in a healthy way. If they bring things to you and you aren’t responding with consideration, chances are over time, even the healthiest of people will stop giving you the consideration. Why? Because any team is only as strong as their weakest link.
It is in this conflict that people’s true motivations come out. Whether you’ve just started dating, or whether you’ve been friends for years, or whether it’s a close relative. It works in all ways. Sure it’s scary to find out someone close to us cares more about themselves than us. However, it’s part of life especially in this day and age of selfies, plastic surgery, and elevator mirrors. You’ve probably heard the term ‘toxic relationships’, and these ‘me complex’ people would be great examples of it. People that make everything about themselves. Often they create drama in their life and yours with their constantly worrying about how they look in a situation, if people like them, if partners want them, etc. It’s all self-focused. Then there’s their constant critique of everyone (the yoga instructor, barista, coworker, etc.) that they were offended by – they looked at me funny, they didn’t compliment my hair cut, etc. Everything is a hit to their ego.
Depending on their personality, when these ‘me complex’ people get their ego bruised (which mind you can be as simple as you asked them to call you back, which they took as a personal attack on their character that you even asked), they can behave in a myriad of ways. Some will be so hurt they’ll ignore you, blow you off, be so offended you don’t deserve their attention, etc. Others will desperately try to find a reason to negate your request in order to regain their ego – you must have had a bad day, you must still have feelings for an ex, etc. Then some will fight back, pummeling you with blows, you’re being extreme, you’re being hurtful, you’re the issue not them, how could you question them, etc. Others will escalate even further going into full force ego-preservation mode and will destroy anything and everything in their way in order to regain their perceived self-worth. In this mode, they are incapable of considering you, you’ve become an object, and their only goal is to become whole again, no matter what they have to do to you to get there.
This post is more about exploring the ‘me complex’, and not in any way providing advice on how you should handle the ‘me complex’ people in your life. Only you know if the relationship makes sense to continue or not. I’m also not saying ‘me complex’ people are inherently bad people, yes some are so broken they are prone to being abusive, but others just struggle not taking everything personal.