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Ego Inflating Propositions.

13 May 2013

After a very good weekend with lots of sunshine and exercise (I ran 10.22 miles and walked about another 9. I even did a 17 second plank balanced on three medicine balls. It’s hard. Try it.), I had a difficult conversation first with a friend and then with my sponsor. The essential gist of it was: I don’t always behave well when I find my ego being stroked. It’s easy for me to get a big head. I start to feel important and then indispensable and then I can justify just about anything. My friend very rightly took me to task about this. I talk a lot about gratitude here, and other essential things about the program, but I rarely talk about humility.

Because humility sucks. I’m not good at it. And I’m bad at it in two ways. When my ego is up, I feel like I’m the best there is. I’m handsome and virile and important! I work at a prestigious institution and do important work that saves lives! Women are attracted to me! I have incredible talents and I’m eager to tell you about them! When my ego is down, I’m stupid and vile. I’m ugly and fat and repulsive. I’m a fraud and a charlatan. I’m useless and ashamed. I want to slither into dark corners and be avoided.

Both of these modes are bad for me. The first mode is also bad for other people. When my ego is stroked, I will seek more of what feeds it. Often knowing that this can lead me to behave in ways that I shouldn’t. And that leads to having to make amends to people. Or, sometimes, those amends we don’t make because making them only hurts a person again.

In sobriety, I’ve learned how to deal, largely, with the second type of ego problem. I know how to responsibly drag myself out of the modes of thinking negatively. I’ve learned to accept that I am probably not the worst person ever to walk the earth. But I have real difficulty with the first kind. Especially in relationships, but also at work. I don’t know how to handle positive attention, and I can end up saying and doing stupid things, and acting like an ass. And I can end up doing things that hurt other people.

So my friend, aware of this behavior of mine, gave me some well-earned correction. And when the concept of ego was brought up, things clicked into place for me. I then called my sponsor and discussed the same issues with him. He told me the same things. “Avoid ego inflating propositions.” I don’t behave well when I’m convincing myself I’m great.

These issues are hard to write about. I don’t like admitting publicly that I’m not necessarily working the best program. And these are sobriety issues, not just humanity issues. If my ego gets misaligned too badly, I will end up feeling the same old shame and self-hatred and fear and rage that I drank over. For an alcoholic, these are often life and death issues. So I’m grateful to have been admonished. Even if I’m ashamed that I let my ego get out of whack. Or rather, because I let my ego get out of whack. It’s good to have people who will remind me. Bring me back.

That’s how the program works. I can’t do it alone. I’m not good enough. I’m not strong enough. I don’t have the gift of perspective. I need others’ experience to help me see my errors. I’m so glad I know people who will hold me to account.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Syd permalink
    13 May 2013 20:49

    I have seen both sides of this. I had the tendency to be very hard on myself. Rarely did I shoot myself a lot of boosters for the ego. Mine manifested more in being critical and having huge expectations of myself and others. Not a good thing.

  2. 15 May 2013 07:03

    None of us are “good enough” or “strong enough,” that’s why we have each other. For me, humility is realizing that I have indeed been blessed with some wonderful strengths, and then thanking God for that. Trying not to believe it is because I am inherently “better” than anyone else, but being grateful for any attributes that may make me kind of “special.” (sorry for all of the quotes, but I hate using these words)

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