There are some people who seem to be focused on others. This is the opposite of Narcissus, the Greek youth who fell in love with his own reflection. As a personality trait narcissists are defined as vain, conceited, selfish. The Anti-Narcissus is the opposite.

Some are nurses or become nurses or used to be one. Or social workers, or aides of some type, but certainly not all nurses or people in other “helping professions” are focused on others in the same manner.

By focused on others I mean people who really listen to people and who are honestly interested in them. These are people who don’t talk much about themselves. They don’t complain much, or turn incidents in their lives into amusing anecdotes, or belittle their activities or exaggerate them into either small or large events. They are honestly focused on people around them more than themselves.

Some people that I’ve known of this type are mothers. And some mothers are definitely focused on people around them, but only when the people are their children. A lot of mothers extend themselves into their children and instead of talking about themselves they talk about their children. Those are not the type of people that I’m referring to.

From what little I know Mother Teresa might be the extreme example of the type of person that I’m referring to because she apparently filled her life with giving and with doing for others. If she did so without seeking fame or seeking entry to heaven or seeking God’s grace then she was indeed the complete extreme version of this type of person. But there are also those who fill their lives with “good deeds” for the ego boost that they get from doing the deeds or from the acknowledgment that they collect for having done the deeds or for the martyrdom they can claim.

My Auntie Em is one of these people that are focused on others. She’s soft spoken, lives by herself, and when you talk with her she doesn’t say much about herself. Like many mothers she’ll talk more often and longer about what her kids are doing or what they’ve said recently than about herself. She’ll also talk about my father (her brother) or other of our relatives or friends more than she’ll talk about herself too. She lost her husband suddenly years back, and has suffered for years and years from what seems to be almost paralyzing arthritis in her hands but she very rarely mentions either.

My wife’s aunt Thilde, who passed away recently, was another of these types of people. She also lived by herself but never married or had children, but like my aunt she would talk more about you, or people you both knew than about herself. She was also very giving of herself. When we traveled to visit with her she had arranged to take a room elsewhere so that my wife and I could sleep in her small but cozy apartment.

I wish that I had more people of this type in my life and I’m sure that I’m overlooking some. And because they are anti-narcissistic I think that we often don’t take enough notice of them or appreciate them sufficiently. They travel gently and unobtrusively through the world. They don’t try to entertain us,  impress us, control us, or hide from us. When they try to advise or help us it is always only because they think it best for us and not for some hidden personal agenda.

My daughter has always been very sensitive to others. When she was two years old her daycare lady was giving heck to an older boy at the daycare for something and my daughter started crying. She’s now a teen, and has some typical teen angst and selfcentered-ness that I think is necessary for the developmental process, but it’s possible that she may grow up with some of the true anti-narcissistic traits.

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