Friday, April 18, 2008

Right versus Wrong

I have been reading - a lot lately - about our "ego." I have seen almost the same words in different books talking about our "ego" - what I would call "our false self." I am not sure if this term is something I just made up, or something that I read, so with apologies to anyone who recognizes it as from someone or some writing - please know that I am not "stealing" or trying to take credit.

"False self" is to me a really good term for our ego - the part of us that wants us to identify with another person, another thing (like money, car, prestige, role, etc.) or a situation and being right. Typically this ego - our false self - gets caught up in a "right versus wrong" approach to life. More accurately - it can come down to this; "I am right and you are wrong."

And it carries to this, if you are right and I am wrong, I am "less than" or "I am bad." Our ego gets us caught up in "positions" . . . and not just "being" . . .

Our true self, is wrapped up or cloaked in our ego. Our ego is a "filter" in which we see the world, and presents us with false information that continues to bolster our "position" or beliefs and tries to make us "right."

If we can "surrender" our rationale for being "right" and not fear that being "wrong" makes us less than or not complete, maybe we can live better lives.

Of course, living in a world encased in alcoholism is difficult, because the alcoholic cannot surrender the ego. In fact, arguing makes their ego stronger and in effect emboldens them to carry on. This is a great reason to detach and not engage. Because not only does it make their ego stronger, it makes our ego stronger. Except when it makes our ego stronger, this actually keeps us from achieving serenity, which is really what we want.

This strengthened ego now affects us and how we deal with people on the outside (not in our home and our children), because of the tension and our frustration of dealing with the alcoholic.

We have to remember this too, that until the alcoholic really reaches freedom from working the Steps, they cannot surrender, and their ego, their false selves, are running their lives, making them "right" and never wrong - because they are in denial and wanting to protect the ego and their addiction. And they are great at making us feel "less than."

We need to not engage and remember we are never "less than!"

Some of the information contained here is derived from The Truth About You (Robert Anthony), The New World (Eckart Tolle), Al-Anon literature and a few others.

6 comments:

Syd said...

The egoic state is where I've spent most of my time--feeling hurt, feeling apart from, feeling angry, feeling fearful. Thanks to Al-Anon I can recognize when my ego is in control. Awareness is a good step in the right direction of getting back into the moment and into myself.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning All,

Does this pattern continue once the practicing Alchoholic becomes sober? Someone mentioned in a recent meeting I attended that this "ego" situation didn't change much after her partner stopped actively drinking.

Interesting topic this morning....

Peace this Friday.

KevinB

Anonymous said...

If anyone has any advice/ comments on Kevin's question, I would appreciate it. I am dealing with a
recovered alcoholic who says his ego is in check, but it is not. He always is right. I need to understand this better.
Thanks
Jen

Anonymous said...

This week my qualifier agreed to meet individualy with an md who specializes in addiction issues. I was told over a year ago by my counselor that my qualifier would probably need to be admitted to at least a 28 day program to deal with his alcoholism. The md told my qualifier the same thing this week. My qualifier says he cannot go inpatient but he also does not want to talk with me about his meeting with the md. Although I am excited about this step forward (acknowledging there is a problem) your comment about ego struck a nerve. He still thinks that his own will power can solve this. He has been telling me this for over a year yet continues to drink, though he has cut back considerably. I don't call it relapsing because I don't know if he has ever truly given it up initially. He just does not understand that he cannot control this, it will take help. So is this his ego getting in the way?

Catherine said...

If, to Joe's point, the ego is the controlled exterior that has been carefullly painted over the true self, then an alcoholic will be wearing many, many thick layers of paint (Much like a drag queen!) as a function of the denial.

The only true self I can reasonably expect to unearth is my own. Will I recognize it? I have my own denial issues to make sure I don't dig up anything too real.

Anonymous said...

Friday 5.31pm anonymous - I am in EXACTLY the same situation with my qualifier, (by the way, from where does that name stem?), but have no Al-anon group to attend on my island.

As a teacher, I always tell children to admit to mistakes or wrong-doing because the consequences will be much less severe, and usually they do.

What I find frustrating and also quite amusing, is that my spouse agrees with this approach in all aspects except when it comes to his drinking. He's convinced that cutting down drastically is the answer and that he can "control" it. There's always a reason for the odd spritzer - a celebration, a disaster.... you all know the story. He's SUCH an intelligent man, WHY can't he see what's SO obvious? Yes, I know - denial.

Hang on a minute ... Why is it that I still can't write about ME? I started out this reply thinking about my ego and it's constant need for bolstering and have just read what I've written .... all about my spouse!

Where is the real me, I wonder? I am well known in the little town in which I live. I've taught here for 18 years - I'm a success - I'm loved by my kids, passed and present. SURELY that's enough to give the real me confidence? No .... all it does is create a larger, needier ego.

Dear God, now I sound like one of my confused adolescents!

I think that, like Syd, I can recognise when my ego is in control, but recognition is only the first step ... doing something about it is the REALLY difficult thing.

Perhaps I should go on a trip all by myself for a few days? Has anyone else found solitude useful? Maybe it's the same place as Joe's friend, Brian Tracy, recommends.

Have a positive weekend every one.

Sue