Beauty & The Beast: The Empath & The Narcissist
I must say I’m not a psychologist, and although I’m using these terms, I do so lightly, with the aim of proving a particular point, so stick with me I’m going somewhere with this.
Tale as old as time, tune as old as song, Beauty and the Beast. Beauty and the Beast is a beloved Disney classic and Belle is by far the most progressive of the Disney princesses. She is the first depiction of a young lady enveloped in reading and learning as opposed to one obsessed with finding her prince. Yet, she is by far the most damaging in the unrealistic facade she creates. This tale is the classic representation of the empath and the narcissist.
According to Psychology Today a narcissist “is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy for others, a need for excessive admiration, and the belief that one is unique and deserving of special treatment.” An empath is, “a person who has an unusually strong ability to feel other people’s emotional or mental states.” I must say I’m not a psychologist, and although I’m using these terms, I do so lightly, with the aim of proving a particular point, so stick with me I’m going somewhere with this.
In the movie, we find Belle, trapped in a castle with a self-involved Beast, the narcissist. He lives with a curse borne of his selfishness and can only be saved by true love. Belle, on the other hand, is the typical empath; aware of so much around her from reading and self-improvement and able to feel the pains of those around her (namely her father, an outcast depicted as an innovator ahead of his time.) Eventually, as all tales go, Belle falls in love with the Beast and saves him by teaching him to love.
This is where the real trouble begins. The most toxic myth this creates is you can change someone by loving them. Firstly, love can hurt, especially if you are trying to change someone let alone save them from themselves. Unless you are the Messiah and bore nails on the cross, I have no idea what you’d be doing trying to save someone, especially someone who won’t change for themselves. The second rather deadly myth this purports is that love can change the quintessential “bad boy.” Narcissists, at their core, are unlikely to change. They merely go through cycles of charming you, using you, and eventually discarding you. You may remain on their back burner until they run out of supply at which point they will fish you out of the archives and repeat the cycle again.
This is especially hurtful for empaths. As I said, I’m using these terms rather loosely, so let’s look at Belle for a moment. Women are more empathetic due to their maternal instincts and so are likely to internalize a partner’s needs above their own. They will do their best to love their partner wholly and in so lose themselves. Narcissists love the attention and draw you deeper into their world until all you are is a reflection of their needs and requests.
Like a toxic match made in hell, empaths fit into the narcissist’s twisted and gnarled parts, providing endless adoration while the narcissist doesn’t give a second thought to the empath or their needs. The empath feels valued as they are needed and showing their greatest expression of self, loving someone. The narcissist is unable to feel or reciprocate this love and merely acknowledges it as admiration and attention, to soothe their ego. Are narcissists able to change? Is anyone able to change? Yes, but by their own means and only if they choose to change, for themselves.
Essentially, the Empath and the Narcissist dance in a deadly tango, that breeds resentment, self-loathing, and eventual demise on the part of the empath. The lesson? You can’t save anyone. You are responsible for no one. People actively choose to be who they are and should they fail to change, they are choosing to remain warped. It is a choice. When you were born, you were born alone and so shall you be when you die, therefore your only responsibility, namely the only person you can change is you!
We are taught as women that you can change your man. That is a fallacy that in turn makes you the villain; who are you to have the divine ability to change someone outside of their will? The one way I’ve found to break the Empath and Narcissist curse is to work on the cracks and bangs on the inside. Is it easy to fall for a narcissist, hell yes, because they’re charming and witty and they make you feel wanted. To break the curse, you need to do the inner work that ensures you have all the love, support, and admiration you need from within yourself so that you seek extension, not completion. Be yours before you are anyone else’s.
This has been the Musing Of A Whimsical Mind. Stay tuned for more diving down the rabbit holes that are my mind!