17 Comments
Jun 21·edited Jun 21Liked by Nathalie Martinek PhD

This is SUCH an interesting topic! For one thing, as someone who has lived 7 years in Italy and now has an Italian family, when assimilation is coming from a place of genuine love and fascination and appreciation of the culture that adopted you like mine has been, it's a great thing. However, in my workplace, I have some level of resentment. This is the first workplace where I've succumbed to the jeans-and-tshirt programmer 'uniform': I did it as a last ditch effor to see if swapping out my heels and makeup would make the difference, and I'm kind of horrified that it did. People finally take me seriously, not because I'm better at my job or much improved in any way, but because of ...jeans?! Seriously? So definitely the idea of assimilation as a performance strikes me as a particulary horrible comment on our culture, that changing your clothes or what you eat makes such a drastic difference to the way you're perceived. So yes for assimilating because you genuinly love the way of life, but a big NO when it's a performance forced on you by shallow prejudices. In a word, good if you invite me in because you see my value and I see yours and want to share it, but bad if you force me in because you can't see any value outside your own

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Thank you so much for your story Helen - comparing and contrasting between desirable vs forced/enforced assimilation. You highlighted a difference between cultural assimilation and behavioural assimilation through changing appearance to fit the existing work culture. One speaks clearly about respect and the other one is just transactional, conditional acceptance.

Workplaces can really suck and suck the soul out of the joy of work.

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Jun 21Liked by Nathalie Martinek PhD

Love this topic. I look back at the forces of assimilation at work in corporate media, where I used to work, and was for many years assimilated, before I recognised I could no longer live with the contradictions (eg: We care about covering climate change and have a net-zero target. We also host conferences enabling oil and gas executives to team up to accelerate extraction of fossil fuels). Assimiliation is incredibly subtle, and in my experience it was only through spiritual and personal work that I was able to find the scaffolding I needed to step away from it and recover myself, in part by writing publicly about my experiences. Thank you for all you do with Hacking Narcissism. Such a great and essential project, and grateful for the rigour and commitment you bring.

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"Assimiliation is incredibly subtle, and in my experience it was only through spiritual and personal work that I was able to find the scaffolding I needed to step away from it and recover myself..."

So succinctly and perfectly said Matthew. I'm so glad you said this! The unforced assimilation process is subtle, making it difficult to notice that it's happening and that you're being transformed. De-assimilation is a complicated process. It's great you managed to get out and recover yourself!

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Jun 21Liked by Nathalie Martinek PhD

Thank you! It's a work in progress! I've found the depth and precision of your posts unpacking narcissism, hugely supportive for that work, to discern with more clarity how this patterning operates in myself and former colleagues.

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I’m SO happy to read this. Seriously makes my day/week/years. I hope this upcoming assimilation piece adds something to your unpacking and learning about the mechanisms of narcissism.

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Jun 21Liked by Nathalie Martinek PhD

I am coming at this from the opposite view of most people. I naturally don’t assimilate. I have never fit in. Contradicting that, I am comfortable everywhere, with almost all groups. I know uber wealthy and welfare types. I chat with various street people near me often. (Very middle class teachers/social workers/bureaucrats etc in groups just floor me. Individually sometimes okay. In a group? Nope.) Over the years though I have learned to fake it in essentially meaningless ways. Meaningless to me at any rate. Going through life constantly generating resistance over small matters is stupid. I did that for 25 years or so. But I could care less what clothes I wear or food I eat.

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You must feel very comfortable with yourself to be able to mingle with different classes of people. There are many of us who are not built to assimilate.

To assimilate as an outsider, you need to be invited in and supported to progressively lose yourself to the group. It won't mean individuals from the group won't betray you but does make it easier to meet specific needs ie social climbing in a society or workplace. For those who can't assimilate all the way, they have to play along, as you mentioned or avoid certain groups.

Thank you for sharing your approach to being a chameleon outsider Mystic William!

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Jun 22Liked by Nathalie Martinek PhD

I have worked for myself for over 50 years. I like being alone. I like being with people for short periods of time. But I get really happy by myself. I genuinely enjoy meeting different types of people. Everyone is fascinating. Some are for years, some for 10 or 15 minutes. But everyone is interesting.

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Jun 22Liked by Nathalie Martinek PhD

I am a real Estate developer. I live in a building my youngest son, who is my bjz partner, and I built. He lives in the PH with his wife and two children. I live one floor below. I see those 2 grandkids nearly every day. My eldest lives five floors below me. And my second eldest is moving in 3 floors below that with his wife and 2 kids. Isn’t that wonderful. All 3 of my sons and I living in the same building we built!! Strange for a hermit! But we all

Like our space.

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You're incredibly blessed to have such a great attitude and ability to enjoy your company. And, for raising a family who you can go into business with and work together. #goals

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I am reasonably competent but incredibly lucky. It’s weird. My luck usually involves some hardship. I slip and fall and as I am getting up I see a $50 bill lying under a bush. I stand up, brush myself off, no rips or stains, and I have money for lunch. Working with my son, who now runs the company, has been one of the great blessings of my life. Watching him go from my Jr assistant to my right hand man, junior partner, full partner, and now I am somewhere between his right hand man…no, I am now his junior assistant, has been amazing.

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Jun 25·edited Jun 25Liked by Nathalie Martinek PhD

I resisted it by feeling my shame, Nathalie. I took my assimilated workplace behaviours into the community and after three years of voluntarily operating as a chairman in a community club was called "aggressive". I was mortified. It was October 2015. The change was on. Without realising it, I began my self-awareness journey. Thank you for your great question and leadership on this matter. 🙏🙏

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Thank you Trevor! Sometimes all it takes is one piece of feedback that shakes you awake and humbles you. I see this is a blessing (some may not) that begins a lifelong deprogramming/de-assimilation process.

I'm grateful for this note Trevor, as it has reminded me of the importance of gratitude as part of my own de-assimilation process.

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Jun 25Liked by Nathalie Martinek PhD

I am enjoying all the comments and the piece but especially yours.

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Thank you :)

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This topic is excellent. It really got me thinking and growing! I’m in a toxic work environment. For no reason at all (and I’ve had 2.5 years to “listen” for the reasons-to no avail), I’ve been bullied and ostracized, among other things, including discrimination. I’m highly educated and skilled at what I do, but they hate me so much that the leads don’t assign to me.

What I realized in studying this topic is that the leader is totally in group/out group in style. I’ve had people at work who were once friends for 20+ years turn on me because they’re in the in-group.

So, I think this is an excellent example of the harmful effect that assimilation can have. The Others assimilated for security. Left me in the dust with a lot of vulnerability. So my reaction is social withdrawal.

I’m thankful that I didn’t assimilate. I can’t imagine choosing friends in this way, at least, not since high school!

The topic also led me to The Book of Daniel. Christians should read Chapter 1, at least. It is a good lesson on Daniel’s story about assimilating to the Babylonians.

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