Are You An Echoist? (The Opposite Of A Narcissist)
Narcissism is something we hear about alot these days. Narcissism is a developmental stage in childhood, but ideally we move through this stage, and have a healthy sense of narcissism. Then there is Narcissistic Personality Disorder which is an unhealthy sense of narcissism.
Echoism is the opposite to Narcissism, where people don’t like being the centre of attention like narcissists, they don’t like taking up space and in fact have quite an impaired ego. They will often put the needs of others before their own, while a narcissist is more likely to place themselves in front of the line. In contrast, Echoists are often lauded for their empathy and sensitivity. They feel compelled to try to be the opposite of the narcissist as if rejecting those traits. Even though Echoists are less self-absorbed than narcissists they still in fact are self absorbed.
In his book, “Rethinking Narcissism,” psychologist Craig Malkin describes Echoism as a lack of healthy narcissism.
The Myth of Narcissus and Echo
Narcissists and Echoists get their names from mythological references. Narcissus was obsessed with looking into the water at his reflection, this caused him to neglect food and rest and he eventually died. Echo was cursed to repeat the last words spoken to her, and say nothing of her own, and when she fell in love with Narcissus, she could only echo him. She fled in shame, rejected, she mourned him and eventually died.
Characteristics of an Echoist:
- Scared to take up space
- Fear praise
- Fear being in the spotlight and actively avoid it
- Fear being special
- Make every effort to avoid burdening others
- Always put others needs first and avoid their own needs
- Believe acquiescing will ensure love from others
- Poor boundaries
- Can’t assert their own needs
- Inability to know what they like or dislike
- Seldom asking much of others
- Highly empathic and sensitive
- Take the blame
- Fearful of expressing opinions when it might cause loss of love
You get the drift, basically it’s to be as insignificant as possible.
Where Does Echoism Come From?
Echoism often comes from childhood and a relationship with a narcissistic parent. With the other parent often being an Echoist. They tend to enter into partnership relationships as adults with narcissists.
The Echoist parent will also teach their child how to be an Echoist, not wanting much for themselves. The narcissist parent is often competing with the child and expecting them to to show all the traits and behaviours of Echoism.
Echoism vs Codependency vs Fawning
Echoing and Fawning are really the same thing. A response to the environment you grew up in or find yourself in as an adult.
There is a difference between Echoing and Codependency though. The traits of codependency being enabling behaviour and being very passive, where it differs is Codependents are often trying to control other people’s behaviours and guide them in order to get what they want.
How to Heal Echoism
Key to healing Echoism is to learn more about healthy narcissism. The traits in the narcissist you have been affected by, and reacting to, by doing the opposite, or valued by the Echoist parent, you can start to adopt, and experiment with. Just because you have some of those traits doesn’t mean you are going to abuse others with them, as was done to you.
Traits to try:
- Experiment trying being the centre of attention
- Learn to take up space
- Practice asking for help, start out by doing things like asking where the milk fridge is at the corner store counter
- Choose dinner takeaway ideas, don’t leave it for others to choose what you eat
- A quote I love is “Fall in love with taking care of yourself” – start to do small things to take care of yourself
- Assert your boundaries, say No.
- Learn to see your good qualities and back yourself up.
It may be a good idea to see a therapist to help you learn what high self esteem is and how to think confidently. And to work on your underlying belief system about why it’s now safe to start to let go the self defeating behaviour you learned.