Sunday, January 24, 2021

Living and Embodying the Tao: Book Review of The Tao of Influence

The Tao of Influence
The Tao has been a source of fascination to me since my youth. There is something about its focus on nature and humility that has always inspired me especially with its harmonious depiction of the good and the bad, the yin and the yang. Yet at the same time, I have always been attracted to its mystic undertone since the Tao that can be named and labeled cannot be the eternal Tao. To me, the Tao embodies the wisdom of life, and I am pleased to see it applied in different fields and disciplines ranging from science and physics (Fritjof Capra’s exquisite classic The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism) to the more recent book on being an influencer and leader (Karen McGregor’s wonderful book The Tao of Influence: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Leaders and Entrepreneurs).

It is not difficult to see how the wisdom of Tao could influence leadership, but I was pleasantly surprised by how thoughtful, insightful, and profound Karen’s analysis and understanding of the Tao is and how she applied it not only to being an influencer but even more to how to live a life filled with peace, joy, and personal fulfillment.

When I think of influencers today, I cannot help but often view them as self-obsessed and self-serving people who are driven by the goal of increasing their followers but without giving much of substance or duration in return. Yet what Karen manages to show us is that influencers that can look beyond themselves and who serve a worthy cause can become true and inspiring global leaders, while with the aid and support of their many followers, they could bring about a deep and lasting shift in our lives.

We can use the secrets of the Tao to get us to that point. Wisdom to me is more than knowledge. We can read books and spout the information and lines like an encyclopedia or a computer, and we can memorize and recite poetry, but it cannot move and inspire us and others - unless it also resonates and vibrates with the deepest cores and fibers of our being. We all know that love is important; we all talk about faith and peace, but not many of us feel it in our body or embody it in our lives. They exist as concepts that float in our heads, yet they are not connected or embedded with the rest of our bodies and much less with our daily lives. It is one thing to say we believe in God or the Divine, yet another to feel it within, and yet quite another to practice and live it. 

Often, we see philosophers think, talk about, or even be obsessed with philosophy, but few of them actually live it in a more profound and changing way. Yet the greatest and most memorable leaders and thinkers were the ones that not only talked but also walked their own carved path, whether it be Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Jesus, Mother Teresa, or Mister Rogers, this is what they all had in common. I think of philosophy and psychology not so much as mental, logical, and linguistic acrobatics but more as a lifestyle, like poetry that moves us to tears and awakens our sleeping selves from its deep and drawn-out slumber.

This is where we can use the Tao to gain a better understanding of ourselves and our place in the world and one that is not driven by the various needs of our ego, including fear, trauma, and ignorance but rather be guided and directed by wisdom and clarity. And Karen’s book points us in the direction and gives us guidance on how to align the inner with the outer world to the betterment of everyone involved.

True influence is not about control nor the ego, it is not about gaining attention or standing on the podium or receiving millions of followers on Twitter or Instagram, but it is about leading by example and about providing and serving as a positive example to others. True leaders do not demand, nor do they need obedience; they are willingly followed as the world needs authentic people to be messengers and harbingers of peace and love.

Unfortunately, there are many influencers who are shallow, empty, and void themselves. They are corrupt and not trustworthy, and they tend to be the ones that are loud and spiritually bankrupt. They do not promote peace but violence; they do not want harmony but sow conflict and division, and they may seem to have conviction and a cause but, in the end, those are self-serving and do not last. The main reason for their void is because they are not genuine themselves in their words and actions and because they did not turn inwards to look for truth and insight. Only through introspection and self-examination can we bring about and effect profound change within us and then be able to project it and share it with the outside world. 

The power that lasts and is genuine and authentic is rooted in what Karen terms our pure love-power, the love we are born with and that is fueled and led by the intuition we naturally carry within us. Think about it: every choice we make, every thought we have, every action we take can have profound effects and repercussions, not only on ourselves but also on our lives and that of others. Not unlike the Butterfly Effect, it can have results and consequences far beyond ourselves.

Nevertheless, that could also be amplified in the negative: if our power becomes distorted, it can lead to greed, corruption, manipulation, and deceit, especially when we are driven by a need for personal power and stature as well as selfish motives, gain, and profit. Yet the influence it produces will be only temporary as sooner or later people will see through the illusion and stop embracing and following a path that leads to nowhere, or worse to a dead end and cul-de-sac.

Power is only the first of four pillars, the others are presence, purpose and potential, and we shall take a brief look at them a bit later. Yet the problem with power is that it can be distorted, and Karen gives us an overview of different personality types that block us from accessing and tuning into our true nature and the love-power or Buddha-nature that we all have inside of us and that is more dormant than awake.

In essence, these patterns are our own default ways that we use to interact with the world. Depending on which power pattern has a hold on you, it can determine to a large degree your response and reaction to others while giving important clues about the personal relationship you have with yourself. Let us find out which type would best describe your current state of being, and it will include different ways of using and abusing social media.

One of the salient and most known types is the controller. This person’s fear of never being enough and of feeling unsafe in the universe leads to their need and compulsion to control others. They have rigid expectations of themselves and others, and they are almost always on the defensive. Their constant necessity of defending their opinions and their constant wanting to be right even when they are wrong will deplete their energy levels.

On the other hand, their micromanagement of all aspects of their lives and their lack of tolerance and acceptance of others will exasperate their loved ones, friends, and colleagues. The controller is on the lookout for anyone who violates rules of social media, while they are also suspicious of everyone and everything and fearful that their private information might be misused or abused.

Then there is the victim. They see and define themselves as not lovable, and they consider life unfair and the cards always stacked sky-high against them. Everything is taken personally, and they are sensitive to the words and actions of others. As they cannot control their inner world, they try their hand at the external world. Add to that, the fact that they are chronic complainers, always blame others, and never accept responsibility for their deeds and actions. Their favorite style of communication is passive-aggressive. Their social media trademark is sharing with everyone everything bad that has ever happened to them.

Follow it up with the savior. They tend to be great at problem-solving and take pride and relish in alleviating people’s problems. In fact, helping others motivates them by giving them a feeling of euphoria that they fail to find elsewhere or by any other means. Although their altruistic behavior is commendable, their motivations stem from proving their self-worth to themselves and others, and hence, they are less interested or guided by engaging in true love and compassion.

Who would make a great partner for them? The victim, of course. But at some point, they will realize that true love is not in their stars nor within reach and sight for neither one of them. Social media provides an excellent tool for the savior to look for people who need help and who would supposedly benefit from their grandiose acts while ensuring they are constantly being seen, acknowledged, and mentioned by others.

The martyr takes it all a step further. They think their love is selfless and enduring. In fact, they choose to forgo and “sacrifice” their own happiness to bring happiness to others. As they do not take time for themselves, they will also not experience joy. They deny themselves these pleasures as they see their role in life to suffer and endure. Just like the savior, the work is less about others but also about themselves and about feeding and satisfying their own ego. The martyr will use social media to rub in and harp on all the good that they are doing in the world and that we would be essentially lost without their existence.

Moreover, there is the blamer. They also like to have control or at least give a semblance of it to others. By externalizing events, they feel a sense of control and righteousness about life and people. The need to be right and righteous is the most important aspect of their lives because when you blame others, you evade and avoid accountability, and you are making judgments upon others. In fact, in their view, everyone else is wrong.

The blamer is terrified of making mistakes and will not be authentic or tell the truth, while all their actions are viewed as transactions: there is always a condition and a string attached to everything they do for others. The blamer will post and often publicly name on social media anyone and everyone who is at fault.

Related to the blamer is the judge. Yet the judge does not blame but sees themselves as the role of observer and assessor of human actions and interactions. Their feet are firmly grounded in a world of duality where everything is assessed rather than accepted. They like to keep themselves at a distance from others and from their true self. The judge is very active on social media as they look for any instance to disagree with a post or a tweet. Some of them seem to be permanently residing in that sphere.

A step higher is the chosen one. They outdo the judge, the martyr, and the savior in that they have a firm belief in personal entitlement, that the world owes them simply for existing on the earthly plane. They are selfish and vain, and they are not averse to breaking rules because they deem themselves beyond rules and obligations. They also do not believe in established doctrines and shun traditional systems and institutions but have nothing to replace them with.

This ingrained sense of entitlement makes their time more important than anyone else’s. They will not wait in line. Everything is instantaneous, and they should not have to wait or work for anything. On social media, whenever they feel it is worth their time, they will share their insight and wisdom with the masses believing that what they have done or what they are writing, no one has ever done before in the history of humanity.

Finally, there is the withdrawer. This person feels out of touch and out of control with their own life and destiny. They tend to keep quiet when they ought to speak up. They would rather follow than lead even if they are indeed much more capable than the appointed leader. They would rather not make waves or cause displeasure (what Karen would term “the disease to please”) as they prefer being a nice and quiet person that everyone likes and approves of. Yet this path of no personal commitment, lack of control, and accountability will often lead them to apathy and numbness.

They are the exact opposite of the chosen one as they are driven by the fear of not being worthy and not deserving to take their place and space on the planet, while they lack purpose, confidence, and initiative. Their lack of communication and connection and their tendency not to ask for help when needed or required puts them at risk for depression and suicidal thoughts. The withdrawer will threaten to remove friends who do not interact with them or who see their posts but do not like or share them enough. The withdrawer will also periodically announce that they are taking breaks from social media.

As we can see, power patterns may be combined and, in some cases, they overlap, whereas the narcissist would tick almost all the boxes. Yet it is important to identify the patterns and to start to deal with them and to reduce and eliminate their hold and grip on our daily lives. It is less a way of diagnosing and labeling a person but to give some relevant feedback on where the problems lie on the spectrum so that we can get to the root cause of them all.

The problem with these power patterns is that they block us from our true nature, the source of our radiance, individuality, and love. To gain access to ourselves, we would need to first strip away all that is not us. And most of our thoughts and actions are driven and propagated and intensified by fear and insecurity. Once we deal with the trauma and stress that is both apparent as well as hidden within our psyche, we can take the next steps forward.

As mentioned previously, power is merely the first of the four pillars. We also need to add our undivided, mindful, and loving presence. Presence is more than being in the moment or going with the flow. It is about being firmly situated and grounded in the present moment with no thought of the past or future and as free of doubts, fears, and illusions as possible. It takes an immense amount of practice, but it is worth doing so.

Purpose is more than our calling and vocation. It is our unique and individual purpose of our soul or essence to follow through with our mission in life and to inspire others to do the same, regardless of what you are aiming or striving for as long as it aligns with the divine purpose, that is, the main reason we are here and why we exist: love.

Finally, we need to find ways of unwrapping and developing our inherent potential. That is the true fabric of our essence coming into bloom. As an actualized leader, you do not need to push, cajole, pull, or destroy, but you will work in flow and harmony, in tandem with the mystical divine. Both your inner and outer world would fall into place and will align themselves perfectly, and you will shed your ego and start walking in the light of the Tao.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Our Personal, Emotional and Spiritual Relationship with Food: An Interview with Deborah Kesten

Deborah Kesten
Considering the importance and relevance that food represents to us, our modern relationship with it is often fraught, conflicted, and misguided. Whether we are carelessly and mindlessly indulging in junk food, rapidly gulping down fast food, restlessly taking in chips, chocolate, and cake alongside scoops and helpings of ice cream or whether we are on the other side of the spectrum by essentially restricting and punishing ourselves with difficult, imbalanced, and impossible diets, we are not giving food its due and recognition.

Food is essential and central for our survival, but it can also be an immense source of pleasure. Although we often punish ourselves with food, either through stress-induced under- or overeating, it is also used as a vital form of celebration. Food can be a comfort but also an appreciation and affirmation of and connection with cultural and ethnic identity. We use food as a ritual, such as ceremonious and festive meals for and with the family during holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas as well as birthdays, weddings, wedding anniversaries, and even funerals.

In Christianity, the Last Supper symbolized both an impending death as well as a celebration and renewal of life, where bread became the body of Christ, and wine his blood, which the disciples were then to imbibe and incorporate willingly and mindfully. Then there are various native and indigenous traditions including Harvest festivals and Kwanzaa festivities with its Karamu feast. In Islam, long periods of fasting during Ramadan tend to culminate in feasts of gratitude and relief.

We are, in fact, much more than what we eat, and this came to light after an enlightening interview with holistic nutrition researcher and author Deborah Kesten whose approach towards and views on dieting are impressive, effective, and scientifically sound and valid. In a world where most people are spending their money, efforts, and energy on methods that do not work, do not pay a dividend and end up causing more harm than good, in a world in which a billion people are obese while another billion are undernourished, in which about half of Americans are on or are following a rigid diet, it is time to put certain practices under review. Deborah believes that dieting should not be merely about restrictive and punitive measures but rather part of an integrated and a balanced lifestyle, while it is at the same time not only a matter of what we eat but also how we do so.

As such, food and its intake become an essential and integrative part of our lives. It gives nourishment to both our body and soul, and we should not underestimate nor overlook the emotional and spiritual connotations and connections with food. Food should not serve as a replacement of one’s emotional problems or lack of connection with oneself; it is not a treatment nor scapegoat, the same way, we should not abuse alcohol, with the significant difference that we could fully abstain from the latter while we could not possibly do the same with food.

It has been Deborah’s focus to find and promote an overall balance and equilibrium of body, mind, and spirit, and this has enormous beneficial health effects on us, and it has been studied, documented and proven over various years propped up and supported by many scientific and peer-reviewed articles. In fact, she has focused on the connection between food and physical, social, emotional, and spiritual health starting with her first book entitled Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul to her most recent book Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Breakthrough Dietary Lifestyle to Treat the Root Causes of Overeating, Overweight, and Obesity. 

Deborah is aware of the importance of using a personalized plan, one that is specially and specifically tailored to each person. There is no one plan that fits everyone, the same way, medication cannot and does not treat or affect people in one and exactly the same manner. We are unique and different outside and inside out, and many lose sight of the important aspect of individual differences. For instance, I myself am a strong proponent of Intermittent Fasting, and she wisely did not object to it, but equally wisely, she noted that although it may have worked for me, it might not work for everyone and might not be everybody’s cup of tea.

Unfortunately, the medical profession often overlooks and underplays that aspect as they tend to separate the body from the mind and find ways of treating the former with pills and remedies. Yet obesity, one of the most dangerous and rapidly rising health issues that influence and cause a wide range of life-threatening complications ranging from heart disease to diabetes and to certain types of cancer, cannot simply be treated with a prescription or with stringent forms of dieting.

The best manner to tackle a health problem like obesity is to first examine the underlying issues. What is it that leads people to overindulge or to be drawn to unhealthy food and lifestyles? To find this out, Deborah has developed a self-assessment quiz, which not only sheds light on the reasons why we may overeat but where she also identifies seven different overeating styles, such as emotional eating, food fretting (dieting, calorie-counting, and/or being obsessed with healthy food options), fast foodism, sensory disregard (mindless eating without savoring flavors), task snacking (eating in front of the TV and/or the computer), unappetizing atmosphere (eating in unpleasant surroundings or environments) and finally, solo dining (dining more often alone than with others).

By acknowledging and knowing what the problems are, one can direct one’s mind towards necessary and effective solutions. Obesity does not occur overnight and involves most likely a vicious cycle; to break that unhealthy chain one needs to address and expose emotional issues and identify and deal with destructive and detrimental eating habits. This is one of the main aims and aspects of Deborah’s wonderful and insightful Whole Person Integrative Eating program, which has shown to not only prevent but also reverse obesity, heart disease, and even diabetes.

Although medical doctors, not unlike my own family physician, often insist that diabetes cannot be cured or reversed, science tells us otherwise, namely that it is within the realm of possibility once the necessary actions and interventions have been taken and fully explored. In fact, Type 2 diabetic patients are often indirectly and inadvertently encouraged by nutritionists and doctors to be obsessed about food intake and end up engaging in what Deborah calls “eating by number”- a common but disordered way of eating that leads to wight gain and other health complications.  

However, scientific research by Dr. Erica Oberg who practices integrative and natural medicine has demonstrated that how one eats - social nutrition and the manner one consumes food- significantly affects the body’s metabolism due to a more pleasurable relationship with food and eating, and this, in turn, leads to weight loss, not necessarily as an intended purpose and goal but more as a welcome side effect. 

In fact, six of the seven overeating styles have been linked in a way and another with diabetes, so it is more a matter of eating style and less an issue of the food itself, although healthy food habits, such as incrementing one’s intake of fresh vegetables, fruits, and vitamins, minerals and fiber and decreasing processed foods and what Deborah calls “chemical cuisine” are strongly linked and connected with maintaining and preventing optimal health, and effectively reversing chronic conditions and ailments, such as diabetes.

As such, Deborah and behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz have distilled their research of ancient traditions, customs, lifestyle, and eating patterns into three spiritual nutritional observations. They include insights gleaned from major traditions like Buddhism and Hinduism in which one eats with mindfulness, shows gratitude and appreciation as well as loving regard for the food. We probably have all experienced a meal that has been prepared, cooked, and imbued with love tends to taste so much better than when this is not the case, and there is a spiritual truth to it.    

This program is more than a diet; it is a lifestyle that goes back to wisdom and knowledge of ancient times, anywhere from Indian practices and beliefs to the ancient Greek philosophers and medics like Hippocrates for whom diet was not just about restricting food but represented a way of life. This makes one's quest for health not only enduring but also fascinating and all-inclusive. It is not and cannot be just a fad, but Deborah’s program is a dietary lifestyle where ancient food wisdom meets modern nutritional science. Various components of it have been embraced and have been even taught under what is known as lifestyle medicine.

It is holistic even in its historical approach of time by integrating the past with the present and into the future, and a geographic and cultural focus across the world, cultures, and traditions by including yogic traditions and Eastern healing systems (such as India’s Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine), while also traversing disciplines ranging from nutritional anthropology and nutrition (Deborah’s academic background and expertise) and psychology (with some assistance from her spouse/co-author and contributor/ behavioral scientist Larry Scherwitz) to philosophy and religion.

Moreover, I was pleasantly surprised that she was not opposed to my quest across the profound realms of depth psychology, but she seemed to even embrace and condone it by giving me a literal thumbs-up, something that even many psychologists may not accept and may even criticize and frown upon. She has also approached and expanded upon the topic of orthorexia, an obsession with healthy food and lifestyles, an important and relevant issue that is often underreported, if not downright neglected and glossed over in today’s media.

After personally talking to Deborah, I cannot wait to read her book and am planning to include and incorporate it as a reference (alongside Brian Wansink’s Mindless Eating and Mark Mattson’s articles on Intermittent Fasting) within my own self-help book project that I am planning to hopefully finish this year. While my approach focuses mostly on psychology and stress, her concepts on nutrition and its social and emotional impact with the recommended mindset of "relaxed restraint" versus fretting and obsessing over food and health are relevant, helpful, and very useful.

It is indeed most encouraging and heartwarming to find not only similar-minded individuals, researchers, and leaders but also to encounter those who take a path that is not only revolutionary but that will bring fruitful and longstanding results and rewards to everyone. 

Instead of engaging in the next dieting trend better to spend your time, focus, and money on what will not only help you lose weight but also give you overall health. Although science may still be on the lookout for the Theory of Everything, Deborah’s Whole Person Integrative Eating program comes closest to it by promising and delivering essential and important health benefits and healing to everyone who decides to embark upon its path.  

You can find and access the complete interview on my YouTube channel: 

Arash's World Zoom Interview with nutritional expert & health guru Deborah Kesten

If you prefer to listen to the interview, here's a link to my podcast: Arash's World Podcast

Friday, January 1, 2021

Trump and Diana: A Tale of Two Narcissists Part 2

Princess Diana
As promised, here is the second part of A Tale of Two Narcissists. While spotting and labeling Trump as a narcissist (he falls into the psychopathic, malignant, and most dangerous category) is rather quick, immediate, and easy to do, it is much more difficult to spot and define the beloved and cherished Princess Diana as a narcissist. In fact, I did not think of her as one until I saw the 2017 documentary In Her Own Words in which she described certain traits and behaviors that made it clear to me that she would fall into the spectrum.

Although I would not put her in the same boat as Trump – when it comes to narcissism there are different shades and levels - there are still many links and affinities between the two that I will try to draw out in this post. Both are good at manipulating others and spreading gossip and rumors while also playing the press in giving us a false, faulty, and often idealized impression of themselves. In the case of Trump, the media realized, sooner than later or rather later than sooner, that they were, to a large extent, responsible and guilty of getting him elected in the first place; they put him in the spotlight by giving him airtime and publicity regardless of whether it was good or bad press that he received. Often, it was the bad press that helped him gain more attention and notoriety bringing and ushering him many fans and followers in the process.

However, in the case of Diana, it was somewhere between wishful thinking and love at first sight that made us fall for her and made us not realize the many gaping flaws that lay beneath her projected and carefully crafted persona.

In fact, many of us may still hold and grab onto a positive perception of the Princess of Wales and may still swallow it whole; we may believe her to be kind and a champion of the weak and downtrodden as there are certain narratives we like and prefer to believe in while ignoring or turning a willing blind eye to more disturbing trends and unflattering facts of the matter. It is even more emblematic and symptomatic of the current era to jump to conclusions and to rush to blame by making the male counterpart accountable for most of the evils of the world, even in cases when this seems farfetched and not in accordance with the facts.


Diana’s Tale of Becoming the World’s Most Photographed Woman

Diana Spencer had since childhood envisaged and dreamed of being a princess. Her dream was not that farfetched as it may have seemed at first glance. Although the press and media tend to present her as a commoner entering, barging into, and eventually conquering the royal household, she was and had been already part and parcel of the noble class as the Spencer family had close ties with the royal family for several generations. In fact, she became Lady Diana in 1975, which was a handful of years before her marriage to Prince Charles.

The impression of Diana being like most other folks, common and ordinary is false, but it was promoted by the press intent on depicting her daily life, including photos of her as a schoolteacher. Although they may not have expressly stated it, the iconic photographs of her with school-age children around her spoke volumes at the time. Yet, in reality, Diana was not qualified to teach but she was a playgroup pre-school assistant and worked as a nursery teacher’s assistant, while also doing some cleaning for her sister Sarah, the same one who had briefly dated Prince Charles before her. Lady Diana wasted neither time nor attention to gain the Prince’s attention, the man who represented her gateway ticket to the royal palace and the dramatic scene in The Crown’s fourth season comes to mind as she playfully and seductively introduced herself to the prince in an unusual but attention-grabbing outfit for an alleged upcoming play.

Narcissists are great at charming others, at least for a while until sooner or later their true face appears and the charades and roleplaying come to a halt. Yet she was able to use her charms and her beauty to mesmerize the royal household and to gain raving reviews from everyone as she was generally well-liked and well-received. Like a chameleon, she must have been quite adept at giving everyone what they wanted most, all the while impersonating a carefully orchestrated shyness in front of others, particularly whenever cameras were within reach. The media became her greatest ally when convenient, and when inconvenient, her sworn enemy. And just like that, she had managed to leave behind those low-paying jobs as well as the flat that she owned and that she had shared with three roommates.

After the marriage, which must have seemed like an exact replica from her vivid childhood dreams, she loved to dwell and harbor in the camera’s beloved gaze. This went so far that not only did it rob attention from the royal household, but it made Prince Charles quite jealous. He was the one with the royal title, but it was his beautiful wife that got all the media coverage. Princess Diana was noted for her shyness but at the same time, she was quite photogenic. This came as no surprise as she knew she was posing for them and she loved all the attention she could get from their hungry eyes by parading and demonstrating a distinctive fashion sense.

Even when it was Prince Charles’s birthday, she pounced upon the opportunity to show herself off by revealing her ballet dancing skills to the world. This was supposedly to please him and was meant as a special birthday gift/surprise, but he was rather annoyed by her again stealing attention and recognition from him; he would have been simply content to enjoy the opera without the dramatic ballet intermission set to the music of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” - something that had little to nothing to do with the Prince but was merely about shoving the princess into the limelight on his special day.

Diana’s life can be broken down into different phases with most of them being tied to the preconceived idea of her being a victim. There was the misunderstood and neglected wife who only played second fiddle to Charles as he had his eyes on his married first love interest, Camilla. This went so far that Diana in her own words and account threw herself down the stairs 12 weeks into her pregnancy. Although there is no denying that she was struggling with various mental health issues, including bulimia, and she is often diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder, I think that narcissism would make more sense in her case. For instance, her fall was not meant to hurt her but was merely meant to draw more attention to her while also being a sly and indirect rebuke as well as a potential threat and menace to her husband and by extension the royal family.

Her desire for attention was also what fueled her excessive involvement with over a hundred charities. I am not denying that in many ways, the attention that she drew towards those causes had beneficial effects, but her intention and focus were not on the issues themselves but rather only on promoting herself and having her bask in the flashing light of the media. Most people would limit themselves to a handful of charities of personal interest and relevance and would not engage in a the-more the-merrier mindset when it came to charitable involvement and philanthropic contributions.

Apart from the wide range of charities ranging from children and youth to AIDS, leprosy, cancer, animal protection, and landmines as well as the homeless, drug addicts, and the elderly and the dying, she was also involved with a brain injury association, the British lung foundation, the blind and the deaf and the disabled. All her involvement and interest were shallow. No one would be nor could be seriously interested in so many simultaneous and quite different issues at the same time. There is no common theme her except the aim and intention of grounding her firmly in the limelight.

Add to this, her rather unconventional approach to her charity work. For instance, she was not averse to making physical contact with AIDS patients as well as leprosy victims and she would not be afraid of walking across a field filled with potential landmines. In all these cases, she unnecessarily and indiscriminately put her own life as well as the lives of her two children at risk. The Queen was horrified at this type of behavior and wanted her to do “something more pleasant” with her time and efforts. On one hand, we would certainly appreciate the princess’s rebellious attitude, but it seems to me that all these efforts were meant to not only defy her husband and her royal family but also to visibly irk, annoy and destabilize them all.

Then there is the persona and image of the caring mother. For instance, despite suffering from postpartum depression, she took baby William with her on a major tour to Australia because she did not want to or could not part with her child. This was heralded by the media as an ideal example of motherhood, but, in reality, it was the Australian prime minister who suggested this, and it was not Diana’s idea, to begin with. While and whenever the cameras were zoomed and focused on her, she would feign the doting mother, and everyone watching was fooled by those transmitted moving images.

A caring mother would not expose her children to harm, as mentioned earlier with her recklessly dangerous charity initiatives, but let us not forget that she was actively cheating on Prince Charles, to such an extent that some questioned or put in doubt his fatherhood. Her defiance was of the role as a wife and mother as well as the rules and the decorum of the royal family, and she would be the one making decisions about the children regarding their upbringing, education, and lifestyle, effectively denying him and undermining and eroding the role of Prince Charles as both her husband and as their father.

Divorce was inevitable but it did not stop the problems with her. Ironically, in 1993 she decided to retire from public life only to re-emerge or make a “partial return” the following year. And she did so with her usual fashion sense but even hired a voice coach to improve her public speaking skills. Like an actress, she would rehearse certain scenes as well as reshoot some media coverage so that it looked and sounded the way she wanted it to look and sound. Again, it was less about the issues but more about herself and the people’s perception of her.

She was not averse to spreading gossip, lies, and mis- and disinformation, while the public doted on every word of hers and blindly and unquestioningly believed her, even when she was uttering outrageous lies. For instance, apart from claiming that it was Charles who was abusing her during her marriage, she even accused the prince of wanting to have her killed so that he could supposedly marry his personal assistant and whom he had apparently pressured and forced to abort their baby. Prince Charles’s relationship with Camilla was allegedly a sham so that he could later marry the woman whom he really loved, the once nanny of their children.

Finally, Diana’s death was tragic, but it was also not exactly how it is represented. The media was blamed, and there is no doubt that they played a significant role in it, but there was more to the accident than is generally known, acknowledged, or discussed. Most likely, they were all drunk in the car; there is, in fact, forensic evidence that the driver was drunk and under prescription drugs, apparently anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medication. Moreover, he was speeding and lost control of the car. No one in the car was wearing seatbelts. The media should not have chased them, but in a way, she was inviting and enticing them, and in the end, trying to escape from them sadly caused her and her lover’s untimely death.

My point is not to defile her and her image but rather to bring to light and demonstrate the power, hold, and sway that narcissists can have on all of us and how we are often fooled by them. For the longest time, I had the (mis)perception that Diana was a victim and that she had been mistreated by the royal family and by the press.

But once we dig deeper and examine the issues, she was a narcissist who was able to manipulate and deceive millions and millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, narcissists are the ones that make the biggest waves in history, but they are doing it only to satisfy their own needs and benefits, to get their narcissistic supply, whereas they do not care about others nor the consequences and repercussions of their actions.

In the end, they leave the world (their own people, country, party, the royal household, and family) in shambles, whether it is Trump with his presidency or the world’s cherished but only imagined and projected ideal of the rebellious princess who allegedly represented the common people and supposedly brought light and goodness to the world.