Why do some people seem to be drawn to narcissists? Such a question usually inspires answers related to self-sabotage, low self-esteem, and people-pleasing. Of course, any or all of these factors can play a role. Another recent catchphrase is narcissistic echoism.
Generally speaking, this term refers to the role of Echo in the story of Narcissus. In Ovid’s tale, Narcissus rejects Echo. After seeing his own reflection, he falls in love with himself. In a world of plentiful narcissists, yes, there are some Echos out there. But this is not to be confused with the pathology of people-pleasing.
What is People-Pleasing?
In defining this term, it might be simplest to list some of its traits, e.g.
You Just Can’t Say No
No matter how busy you are, your friends can “count on you.” This identity feels powerful to you but it will eventually wear down your physical and mental health.
You Pretend to Agree with Others
This is self-explanatory — as in, squashing your opinion to not conflict with everyone else. But it also leads to people-pleasers imitating and acting like the people in their lives. You might eat food that others like. This could extend to engaging in self-destructive behaviors if you believe it will make others happy.
You Cannot Handle Someone Being Mad Around You
You are certain that it’s something you did. Or said. Now, you have to figure out how to fix it. What can you do to please the angry person?
Apologies, Apologies, Apologies
Your two most commonly used words: “I’m sorry.” You may even apologize for apologizing too much. It’s easy to see why this would be attractive to a narcissist.
What is Narcissistic Echoism?
People pleasers are also often echoists. However, not all echoists are people pleasers. A people pleaser, in some ways, is drawing attention to themselves. Echoism describes a state where you will go to any extreme to avoid attention. You are the opposite of the narcissist. If required to speak, the echoist does what Echo did. They repeat back the last words they heard.
Echoism can exist without narcissism but it finds its mirror image in the narcissist. These two extremes will seek each other out. Conflicting needs can be met through their union. Neither partner is thus required to take stock or try to change. Echoists share some traits with people-pleasers, of course, only to a higher degree. For example:
Poor Boundaries or No Boundaries At All
With echoism, it goes as far as not even realizing or accepting that you can have boundaries. But, make no mistake, the echoist is fully aware and respectful of the boundaries others have set.
Taking Up As Little Space As Possible
This could be physical space. You may give up your chair to someone or walk if you deem the car to be too crowded. More intense is the fear of taking up space with your voice or your needs or your ideas. You are mostly silent and, like the people-pleaser, you are careful to agree with prevailing opinions.
Breaking Free From People-Pleasing
To heal from your echoist or people-pleasing tendencies will offer you peace. It will also make you less of a magnet for narcissists. Some suggestions:
- Practice saying no
- Set and enforce boundaries
- Keep a journal and list your strong points
- Do not see ambition and self-love as negative traits
People-Pleasing, Echoism and Trauma
This recovery process can be greatly aided by speaking with a therapist. Sometimes you need help recognizing the patterns that are holding you back. For many, the patterns of people-pleasing and echoism have their roots deep in the past. Sometimes these are safety and survival strategies which the child learns to employ with an abusive or a narcissistic parent. Children whose parents have problems regulating their own emotions will often learn that the best way to stay safe is by making sure they appease their parents and take up as little space as possible.
If any of the above struck a chord with you, read more about trauma therapy and let’s connect and set up a free consultation.