Some people live with gaping holes in their souls. For reasons that are not always clear—even to psychologists and psychiatrists—these folks I call special people go through their lives with little or no self-esteem. But you’d never know it.
Having masterfully learned how to garner attention, appear confident, become successful, and proclaim themselves to be perpetual “winners,” these individuals are driven by an unconscious need to feel “special.” Yet, they live in utter fear of being outed as losers, imposters, failures or pretenders.
Special people are conspicuously self-congratulatory at every turn, thereby proving their specialness when inwardly they feel anything but. Moments of feeling ordinary, a natural and normal part of being human, can be terrifying to them. Feeling compelled to say or do something special every chance they get, they will shamelessly play to and impress their audiences. And with little or no regard for the fallout or consequences.
Special people become attention addicts, driven to fill every moment with something that gives them an inflated sense of self-worth, importance, value, and success. To compensate for their feelings of emptiness, inadequacy, self-doubt and worthlessness, they strive for adoration, status, fame, and fortune.
Driven by fragile egos and the need for a daily fix of special attention, they embellish and brag about their accomplishments, surround themselves with groupies, align themselves with special people and organizations, attempt to assassinate the character and accomplishments of their competitors, and badmouth celebrities—all as a means of bolstering their own status.
Not surprisingly, these kinds of special people are prone to anxiety and depression. They will throw almost anyone and anything under the bus to remain in their seemingly elevated positions, leaving a trail of broken agreements, lies, infidelities, betrayals, and chaos in their paths. Their ability and willingness to hide, deny, justify, dismiss, rationalize, blame, and explain away their failures places them among the great escape (and BS) artists of all time.
To them, status is everything. Rarely do they exhibit traits such as humility, valor, courage, empathy, and integrity. Without hesitation or the least bit of awareness about what they’re doing, they project qualities they detest in themselves onto those who truly are special, mercilessly attacking them and their contributions as “bad,” “fake,” or ill advised.
Special people can experience untold fortune, fame, and power. Persuasive to the point of eliciting blind loyalty and hypnotic complicity from their followers, they even get themselves elected president of their companies. Or their countries. Their brash, self-righteous arrogance and sense of entitlement is both applauded and disdained. People either love and admire them—or despise and resent them. They nestle themselves in the chaos and controversy of this love-hate relationship, grandstanding, dividing, and exploiting the attention they get for a cause when, in reality, the only cause they care about is themselves.
In the end, genuine, hard-earned love, trust, loyalty, admiration, and respect always trump the adoration, blind loyalty, power, arrogance, greed, and attention-hoarding that define the narcissistic world of special people.
As an Executive Coach, who has had many opportunities to work with special people who are crying out for love and looking for it in all the wrong places, I know that it’s possible to discover what is truly and authentically special in ourselves.