Egomaniac with an Inferiority Complex

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Egomaniac with an Inferiority Complex

Postby Timothy3012 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 3:54 am

The first time I heard another alcoholic describe themselves this way I instantly realised how true this statement is in me. I am a person of extremes; I can either wallow in self-hate and lack of any discernible self-esteem, or, I can swing to the other end of the spectrum and judge everyone around me from my imagined hilltop of superiority. Before AA, I cannot recall ever being in the middle of these two opposite perspectives...

I experienced the most obvious example of this a couple of months ago. I was doing a day's voluntary work on a local building site in order to get some experience and a reference. Because I had never done any sort of work like this, I felt completely uncomfortable and useless. My brain seems to click into the 'low self-esteem' setting without any permission from me, and it sometimes takes me a little while to realise this has happened. I was undertaking a relatively simple task of salvaging old bricks to be re-used in a new wall, and while I stood there my brain flipped back and forth between self-hate and arrogance. Here's a quick example of my thought process;

'I'm not working fast enough, they're all inside talking about me while I'm out here trying my best...'

'Well, I am trying my best! They don't have a clue who I am and what I have achieved. I have a degree! I bet they don't! I should just walk off and go home...'

'Oh but I don't want to leave another job because I couldn't do it anymore. I'm so useless, what's the point in me even existing...'

This back and forth went on for about 5 minutes - all of it in my head, none of it spoken out loud. If someone was watching me they wouldn't have a clue all this was happening and would have no idea I was being silently tormented by my own thinking. Each of these thoughts bring a rush of new and very intense emotion - which in turn affects my body and causes me discomfort in the forms of anger, anxiety, confusion...Panic attacks are a pretty common occurrence for me, usually they're pretty mild and pass after a few minutes but sometimes they can feel like I am about to keel over and like I need to be hospitalized!

The powerful thing about the AA program is that it now kicks in to interrupt this thought process in me. After about 5 minutes i remembered Step 3...I am not in charge of my life anymore! It's not my responsibility to try and create an impression on others or to try the impossible task of managing their perception of me. All outcomes are in God's hands. If I listen to my constantly changing emotional nature, the only outcome will be extreme and unnecessary pain for me. I don't need to live that way anymore because Step 3 sets me free of the burden of responsibility over every single aspect of me life. ALL i can do is try my best and leave all results in God's hands.

This switch between egomania and inferiority is a powerful tool of my illness to try and drive me back to drink. I need something more powerful than this symptom of my illness to keep me sober. Henri Nouwen in his book 'Life of the beloved' discusses this very thing. Nouwen says the following;

'...there is that voice, the voice that speaks from above and from within and that whispers softly, 'You are my beloved...' It certainly is not easy to hear that voice in a world filled with voices that shout, 'You are no good, you are worthless, you are ugly, you are nobody...' (the thing with my head is that very rarely other people will say these things to me, but my own thinking will repeat them at me over and over...)

Nouwen goes on to say, 'These negative voices are so loud and persistent that it is easy to believe them. That's the great trap. It is the trap of self-rejection.' Self-rejection/low self-esteem has plagued me all of my life. I can have a room full of people tell me how well I am doing and there has always been that voice in my own head that says they're either lying or too stupid to see the truth about my worthlessness.

On the other side of the low self-esteem, arrogance can sometimes rear it's ugly head in response to feeling worthless - a sort of defense mechanism of my self-will. Nouwen discusses this in the following way, 'Maybe you think that you are more tempted by arrogance than by self-rejection? But isn't arrogance, in fact, the other side of self-rejection? Isn't arrogance putting yourself on a pedestal to avoid being seen as you see yourself? Isn't arrogance, in the final analysis, just another way of dealing with the feelings of worthlessness?'

As a man who suffers from an illness of extreme opposites, I desperately need a Power that can keep me more in the middle and away fro the dangers of these extremes. Nouwen goes on to say, 'I hope you can somehow identintify in yourself the temptation to self-rejection, whether it manifests itself in arrogance or in low self-esteem...Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the beloved. Being the beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.'

My only effective defense against my constantly shifting thinking is knowing my life is in the hands of a constant, unchanging, and loving Higher Power. A Higher Power who will, and who wants to, love and care for me - no matter what my emotions try to say to make me believe otherwise.
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Re: Egomaniac with an Inferiority Complex

Postby PaigeB » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:37 am

Thanks Tim!
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
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Re: Egomaniac with an Inferiority Complex

Postby Brock » Sun Oct 01, 2017 2:15 pm

This back and forth went on for about 5 minutes - all of it in my head, none of it spoken out loud. If someone was watching me they wouldn't have a clue all this was happening and would have no idea I was being silently tormented by my own thinking.

Henri Nouwen in his book 'Life of the beloved' discusses this very thing.

I will quote a couple of passages from Eckhart Tolle's 'A New Earth,' on this subject -
THE VOICE IN THE HEAD
That first glimpse of awareness came to me when I was a first year
student at the University of London. I would take the tube (subway) twice a
week to go to the university library, usually around nine o’clock in the
morning, toward the end of the rush hour. One time a woman in her early
thirties sat opposite me. I had seen her before a few times on that train. One
could not help but notice her. Although the train was full, the seats on either
side of her were unoccupied, the reason being, no doubt, that she appeared to
be quite insane. She looked extremely tense and talked to herself incessantly
in a loud and angry voice. She was so absorbed in her thoughts that she was
totally unaware, in seemed, of other people or her surroundings. Her head
was facing downward and slightly to the left, as if she were addressing
someone sitting in the empty seat next to her. Although I don’t remember the
precise content, her monologue went something like this: “And then she said
to me… so I said to her you are a liar how dare you accuse me of… when
you are the one who has always taken advantage of me I trusted you and you
betrayed my trust…” There was the angry tone in her voice of someone who
has been wronged, who needs to defend her position lest she become
annihilated.

He followed her after they both got off and realized she was going to the same University building, after some further commentary he continues -
I was somewhat taken aback by what I had just witnessed. A mature first year
student at twenty five, I saw myself as an intellectual in the
making, and I was convinced that all the answers to the dilemmas of human
existence could be found through the intellect, that is to say, by thinking. I
didn’t realize yet that thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of
human existence. I looked upon the professors as sages who had all the
answers and upon the university as the temple of knowledge. How could an
insane person like her be part of this?
I was still thinking about her when I was in the men’s room prior to
entering the library. As I was washing my hands, I thought: I hope I don’t
end up like her. The man next to me looked briefly in my direction, and I
suddenly was shocked when I realized that I hadn’t just thought those words,
but mumbled them aloud. “Oh my God, I’m already like her,” I thought.
Wasn’t my mind as incessantly active as hers? There were only minor
differences between us. The predominant underlying emotion behind her
thinking seemed to be anger. In my case, it was mostly anxiety. She thought
out loud. I thought – mostly – in my head. If she was mad, then everyone
was mad, including myself. There were differences in degree only.
For a moment, I was able to stand back from my own mind and see it
from a deeper perspective, as it were. There was a brief shift from thinking
to awareness. I was still in the men’s room, but alone now, looking at my
face in the mirror. At that moment of detachment from my mind, I laughed
out loud. It may have sounded insane, but it was the laughter of sanity, the
laughter of the big bellied Buddha. “Life isn’t as serious as my mind makes
it out to be.” That’s what the laughter seemed to be saying. But it was only a
glimpse, very quickly to be forgotten. I would spend the next three years in
anxiety and depression, completely identified with my mind. I had to get
close to suicide before awareness returned, and then it was much more than a
glimpse. I became free of compulsive thinking and of the false, mind made
“I.”

This book I have read two times, and now going through it again while listening to the audio book by the author, (free via Google). It's not the easiest concept for me to grasp, but more and more I able to switch off the voice in the head, and the peace and serenity is possibly what heaven is like.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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