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Discouraged or pessimistic? Pope warns against 3 manifestations of mirror psychology


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA | i.Media

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 07/01/22

Francis says the antidote to this 'illness' is a sense of humor.

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Pope Francis gave some quick and helpful advice for the days when “the evils of our times” have us down.

The Holy Father observed that discouragement and pessimism can be related to a narcissistic over-emphasis on oneself. He warned that these three ailments are part of “mirror psychology.”

Here is his explanation and his prescription to feel better, given in an interview with Argentina’s national news agency, released July 1:

Those three things you mentioned—narcissism, discouragement, and pessimism—are within what is called “mirror psychology.” Narcissus, obviously, looked at himself in the mirror. And that way of looking is not looking forward, but turning in on oneself and licking your own wounds. Actually, what makes one grow is the philosophy of otherness. One cannot grow in life without confrontation.

Those three things you mentioned are related to the mirror: I look in the mirror to see myself and feel sorry for myself. I remember a nun who was always complaining. People at the convent called her “Sister Complain-about-it.” Well, some people are constantly complaining about the evils of our times.

But there is one thing that really helps to fight narcissism, despondency, and pessimism: a sense of humor. It is so humanizing. There is a beautiful prayer by Saint Thomas More that I have prayed every day for over 40 years, that begins this way: “Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest. Grant me a sense of good humor. Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke…”

A sense of humor puts things in perspective and is very good for us. It goes against that pessimistic, lamenting spirit. That was Narcissus, wasn’t it? Going back to the mirror. Typical narcissism.

Pope Francis
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