No one likes a man who walks into a room and boasts of his accomplishments, yet everyone loves a man who walks into a room with confidence and owns the things he’s done. The line between confidence and ego is often thin and knowing the difference between the two can sometimes be difficult. But yet knowing this difference is vital to maintaining sobriety.
When someone gets sober they are introduced to the ideas of humility and the fact that their ego is what lead in part to their downfall. The ego that is used in AA and NA, however, is not the Freudian version of the word but is rather used to describe an inflated sense of self that ultimately wants to distance the individual from reality. In this regard, it is something that is meant to be feared and watched out for because if it gets too large it is said to be the path to a relapse. Why is this though? Why is it that someone with too big of an ego can often find it difficult to get and stay sober and what’s more important, how do you go about deflating it if it gets too big?
Why Having Too Big Of An Ego Is A Bad Thing?
The answer to this question may seem obvious, but like most things in recovery, there is more here than initially meets the eye. The first thing that comes to mind is that if you have too inflated a view of yourself then you will obviously push people away from you because no one likes to be around someone who is completely and totally in love with themselves. We all know the type who can’t stop looking at themselves in the mirror and interrupts people in order to get their point across, but what exactly does that have to do with getting sober?
The reason why people who are like this may find it difficult to get and stay sober is because when they have an inflated sense of who they are, they often find it difficult to hear anyone other than their own thinking. To them, their mind is the end all be of all knowledge in the universe and so very often they are not open to new ideas. Part of getting sober, especially in the beginning, is being open to trying new things. Things that may be counterintuitive to your own thinking and with an inflated sense of self this is often impossible.
Going along with this, a person who suffers from this type of thinking will often not have the humility necessary to honestly appraise their actions or thinking. They may hurt people around them and not think twice about it and in doing this, they are not working the principles of the program, which is dangerous.
If they attempt to work a 4th and 5th Step, they may be incapable of seeing their part correctly and because of this, they won’t be able to experience the catharsis that comes from doing these Steps. Without this, the obsession to drink or drug may not be lifted and in time they could drink again.
A person who is egotistical will often only think about themselves and what they want. They may be unable to not pursue their own goals and if people get in their way, they are not concerned about injuring them. This type of behavior is incredibly dangerous for people in recovery and is actually the exact opposite of what is necessary in order to maintain sobriety.
How Do You Overcome Egotistical Thinking and Behavior?
This is sometimes hard because when you are acting out of the ego it is hard to see. It is as if there are blinders on and pride all but replaces humility. So how exactly do you go about combating this type of thinking? First, you need to focus on others. By thinking of others needs before your own and then trying to help them with their needs you automatically destroy egotistical behavior. It is the antidote for the poison that having an inflated sense of self can be and it is fairly simple. If you are not sure if you are acting and thinking egotistically you can just ask yourself “Have I helped anyone today or for that matter this week?” If the answer is no, then you can turn your focus to another and begin to stop the egotistical behavior in its tracks.
Another way to overcome egotistical thinking and behavior is by being candid with another person. By exposing your fears and thoughts to another human being you once again destroy the egotistical thinking that may be driving you. Doing this allows humility to come in and humility and pride cannot coexist.
Struggling With Confidence
Many people who get sober are so afraid of being egotistical that they will often downplay their accomplishments and not allow themselves to be confident. Doing this, however, can be almost as bad as being an egomaniac because denying yourself a sense of confidence does nothing but hurt you. It doesn’t allow you to pursue your dreams or have a proper sense of self because it is always deflated. Being confident in yourself comes with time and often it is something that needed to be practiced. Many of us have a little voice in the back of our heads telling us we are worth nothing and learning to ignore that voice can be difficult, but it is important if you are ever going to confidently own who you are.
Learning To Be Comfortable In Your Own Skin
A quote from Marianne Willamson in her book A Return To Love speaks perfectly to discerning the difference between confidence and ego and owning who you are. Williamson wrote, “Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” So if you are currently scared of confidently being you, remember don’t shrink but let your light shine with all its glory.
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