The periods in corporate life that are associated with higher pressure than normal have to be the end of the financial and calendar year. Both create pressures that translate into stress of proportions that certainly have the potential for volatility. When uncontrollable issues emerge, behaviour of the most mature manager is tested. Where the style of management under “normal” circumstances may be developmental, theses times see narcissistic authoritarian and in some cases compliant coping styles emerge.
One might expect that the reaction narcissists choose when things go wrong is full of vitriol, rather than a conscious and deliberate consideration of alternatives, suggests Susan Krauss Whitbourne in a Psychology Today article. Part and parcel of narcissism is the sense of entitlement and when the world does not co-operate, becoming enraged and lashing out at anyone and everyone is considered acceptable. However, a study by a University of Hong Kong team fits into the pattern of other investigations showing the surprisingly high ability of people high in the personality trait of narcissism to manage life’s problems. Whitbourne suggests that narcissists
A research team headed by University of Hong Kong’s Henry K.S. Ng (2014) examined how the two types of narcissists handle stress and, in turn, how their coping approaches related to their psychological well-being. They knew in advance that vulnerable narcissists would have lower levels of both self-esteem and well-being than grandiose narcissists. The question was whether the two types of narcissists would differ in the flexibility of their coping methods. This study fits into the pattern of other investigations showing the surprisingly high ability of people high in the personality trait of narcissism (the grandiose type) to manage life’s problems. Ng and his team found that the higher people scored on measures of grandiose narcissism (inflated sense of their own importance; their self-esteem tends to be high), the greater their coping flexibility—and the higher their self-esteem. Both coping flexibility and high self-esteem, in turn, were related to higher life satisfaction and lower perceived stress levels.
Narcissism relies on external gratification or acknowledgement and if this is not forthcoming self-esteem is potentially eroded and volatile behavior is likely. There is an alternative thinking pattern.
Equanimity allows us to “stand in the midst,” of extreme pressure in a way where we are balanced, grounded and centered. The pressure is embraced, tension is self-created without a chance of translating into stress. Equanimity has the qualities of tranquility, resilience and steadfastness. Equanimity allows response to pressure to be thoughtfully created versus automated “knee-jerk” reactions. The calm appearance of equanimity should not be confused with resignation or indifference. These are characterized by aversion to the way things are; then we feel stuck and unable to act. By contrast, equanimity is characterized by evenness of temperament, an open acceptance that is no deterrent to action.
Equanimity is regulated by the creation of context, our context. According to Violetta Plashakova, managing director of Creative Consciousness, everything we have in our consciousness comes with a context. All events, circumstances, situations, people, even ideas and emotions, have context, which determines our relationship with all of the above. Having a context for something means having a frame of reference for that something, with subsequent thoughts and feelings about it and resulting beliefs and behaviors. That something is what it is – a plain compilation of facts, an occurrence in reality. “What is” is neutral, yet our context, either self-chosen or conditioned gives it flavor. It is our choice as to how we react automatically or respond creatively. All our highs and lows, joys and dramas directly result from our context, says Plashakova. And, context can be dictated from our past conditioning and our automated reaction governs our behavior. Or our context can be created – consciousness is the context in which the creation of equanimity can occur.
Creating and regulating our own tension is equanimity in action. Taking responsibility for coherent created responses and commitment action with poise. This being comfortable with our self-imposed challenges that come with the degree outside our comfort zone. When we live and act with the virtue of essential integrity, we feel confident about our actions and words, which results in the equanimity of blamelessness.
Ng, H. S., Cheung, R. Y., & Tam, K. (2014). Unraveling the link between narcissism and psychological health: New evidence from coping flexibility. Personality And Individual Differences, 707-10. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2014.06.006