Are you an introvert who hates attention? When people ask you about your preferences, are you often at a loss? Do you avoid “burdening” others with your problems at all costs? You might be an echoist.
Echoism is not the same as introversion, but many sensitive introverts, especially those who had harsh or narcissistic parents, will identify with the key traits.
Here are 7 signs that you’re an echoist.
1. You hate attention
While most introverts shun attention as a form of self-protection from energy drain or embarrassment, echoists have different motives. As an echoist, you don’t feel safe acknowledging your preferences and needs, so you’d rather keep the focus on others.
2. You are painfully selfless
If you are an echoist, you take selflessness to the extreme. The very idea of burdening someone else with your problems fills you with shame and guilt.
3. You hate compliments
As an echoist, not only do you feel uncomfortable with compliments, you swat them away like annoying house flies. You deflect praise by giving someone else the credit, or putting yourself down: “Me, no, I’m not smart, the test was just easy.”
4. You blame yourself for everything
You tend to blame yourself when others are hurt. You are ultra sensitive to the needs of others. Meanwhile, you barely even acknowledge your own needs and wants.
5. You hate special treatment
While others go through life thinking that they are special, you feel exactly the opposite. As Dr. Craig Malkin, author of Rethinking Narcissism puts it:
“It’s as if the one stance echoists take, often vehemently, is ‘Don’t you dare treat me like I’m special.’”
6. You’re the opposite of a narcissist
According to Malkin, there’s a narcissism spectrum with echoists on the far left and narcissists on the far right. If you’re curious where you fall on the spectrum, you can take Malkin’s Narcissism Test.
7. You had a narcissistic or unstable parent
Echoism is often a survival strategy learned at a young age. Many echoists grew up with narcissistic parents. Having a parent with a mental illness or addictions can also lead to echoism.
Perhaps, there was a role reversal in your family, and you had to take care of a sick or depressed parent. From a young age you learned that it’s not safe to rely on others to have your needs met.
The pitfalls of echoism
Although echoism might sound like an altruistic trait, it can have painful consequences. Echoists often struggle with anxiety and depression. For empathic echoists who feel things deeply, severe burnout is a constant threat.
Having low self-regard can also stunt your success and relationships, because you feel you don’t deserve what you truly desire.
You settle for exhausting relationships with narcissists. Or you constantly find yourself in one-sided relationships with partners, friends, and colleagues.
Meanwhile, the people with annoyingly high levels of self-esteem breeze through life, plucking opportunities from the sky, like grapes from an endless vine.
How to deal with echoism
The first step to reach out and receive what you need is to shift out of shame and self-blame and start exploring your true feelings.
Malkin recommends replacing the question “What have I done wrong” with, “Am I feeling disappointed?”or “Am I afraid to say something is wrong.”
Over to you
Do you think you’re an echoist? Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
Yeah I feel like am one and I feel like shedding tears that I have finally found me??.
And I know if I focus on my inner true feelings..God am going places!!.
Thank you so much Michaela,,I just say thank you and May God bless you for me. I love you
I learned something new today
Reading this post, I felt again what I felt when I first read The Irresistible Introvert–the most profound sense of enlightenment and clarity. Again you have made a subject new to me feel like the subject most familiar to me…because it IS me. It’s like knowing you’ve walked down the right fork in the road of personal discovery. Thank you as always.
That’s me. I am an introvert but an echoist as well. Thanks for giving us insights on how we can show our true worth. I do feel suffocated by people and by things most of the time and I am highly sensitive which doesn’t improve the condition I am in.
Yes,I do think I’m an echoist.Sometimes I feel dat , thinking as an echoist sometimes pushes me to work more because I will be left unsatisfied and sometimes it even drags me down from getting success.I have not yet found a way to come out of it.But I think it is mostly effecting me in a negative manner.
Michaela, good post!
I think this would explain a lot in terms of relationship failures. I think knowing things like this and being honest with a significant other or potential partner, could go a long way in having a more fulfilled relationship.
I do have high self esteem, can’t say that I breeze through life, but I can say that the more experience I have the easier it is to accomplish things. I do take calculated risks based on %investment = %return. I invest less when returns are less. My focus will shift into anything that fulfills me.
Having an INTJ personality type, #7 still applies to me. I’m definitely efficient and get results, solve my own problems and meet all of my needs myself. I don’t have a problem with asking for what I need or having standards less expectations.
The thing about ecoism is that I see it as a comfort zone problem, although this is derived from an earlier childhood experience, it may have served you when you were younger but as an adult this way of being actually cost you more the longer you don’t work on resolving this.
The part about #7 that applies to me is even though I can meet my needs on a scale of 1-10 about a 5 or 6, I desire someone to add to it by 4 to 5 points so that I can feel fulfilled. I according to my standards I do the same for them. That is if they are trying to meet their own needs first and yes that’s selfish and OK. People expecting others to make them happy or fulfill their needs for them are self centered and ego driven. They believe the hype about Hollywood movies and books that lead them to believe that that’s how things should be.
Most people lie to themselves and to others, and the reason they do this is for the emotional reward. So many humans believe that the truth is painful and it is, however their lizard brain the “Amygdala” is what fools them into believing that emotions and pain mean life or death. Reality however tells a different story, everyone that has experienced emotional pain or physical pain and can read this are still alive and they will survive in spite of all that they’ve gone through. For many begets the question.
Why do I feel dead inside? And that’s because from all that they have experienced they missed the lesson and that is that all this pain is meant to teach them to grow as human beings, when they get the lesson the reward is greater than if they avoided the pain in the first place. Avoidance of growth equals more pain and eventually an early death and a life unlived.
I am definitely an echoist. All 7 of those characteristics apply to me. I have no idea who I really am because I spend all my time trying to make everyone else happy.
I never knew I was until now
interesting ! Thanks for information !
yes I am sure that I am carefuly described by this points of attitude analyzed in this article. I hate being treated differently, I seldom find it racist, or some sort of discrimination, I don’t want to judge anyone, it bothers me a lot, also, being center of attention. also, I have hard time dealing with unpleasent feelings towards compliments. unless is a person who I admire and I include in my life. plus, what is that mania that we have blaming oursleves about anything? it’s linked to my involuntary syndrome, something that I try to evaluate and grow through.
thank you for this post! ♥
I am an echoist, and seek out bad relationships where I can “save” someone. I worry too much about what others think and always consider other’s feeling before my own.
I sometimes feel that when you do something right, then people expect more and more from you to do things right, and then you don’t want attention from them when things go wrong particulary when you have a bad week or days where nothing goes right.
So, that’s what they call my issue…echoism?
Both of my parents are narcissists. My father left when I was little (and I am the eldest of two boys), and so, I spent my childhood terribly sick (I was born with severe health problems, which thank God, I no longer have those problems) and still had to comfort my mother who was so dreadfully depressed and high-strung, that I regularly suffered extreme health issues (separate from what I was born with) because I had a hard-time dealing with it all.
My wife and I have a very loving relationship and we have wonderful youngsters. Life is good. Thank God!
this is great
This was a very interesting find for me today… I believe I’m an echoist as well.
But I didn’t have neglectful or narcissistic parents. My parents were deaf, and I had to rely on myself many times. We — my sister and I — took care of a lot of communication needs of our family. Phone calls, doctor visits, repairmen, etc.
thanks for publish this post.
Gads, this completely describes me with the exception of not having had screwed up parents — my parents were both involved, and very normal, although my mom is a strongly intellectual person who wasn’t ever really big on physical affection. Something, that I’ve come to realize is my primary love language. Something interesting to explore further; origins….. 🙂
I literally was shocked when I read the 7 signs but cried when I read the pitfalls because that’s exactly what I am going through. for so long I thought I was so different id be alone it makes me so happy to know that I am not alone and I can now name what is ailing me so I have a chance to change it.
this is great
be good luck
So I took that narcissism test and I scored very high on all 3 counts. At first I thought this is to be expected, I know I’m complicated due to my upbringing and personality, so of course I can’t a “nice” or easy result. But what am I supposed to do with this info?
Then I realized this was a very simple test with few questions. There’s no way something that small and uncomplicated can be at an accurate represention on any scale. So I’m not worried about my scores.
But still, some people might read too much into these short kind of tests. I didn’t identify with anything of the extreme behaviors listed as echoim even though the test said I do.
My wife of 32 years stumbled on the term “Echoist” online and showed me right away. She read to me from the site the behaviors, thought processes and problems that echoists supposedly experience… To my astonishment, she was describing me and my 56 years of life to a spot-on tee!! With my extremely narcissistic father, enabling, echoist mother and overbearing older siblings… all of it. The writings on echoism are so right on it frightens me. I have to now wonder… If my Grandfather’s abuse created my narcissist father… and his overbearing, demanding, quick-tempered, arrogant treatment of/toward me created “me”…, what will my echoist personality have created in my kids? I can’t find ANY info on this.