PREVIOUS: GRANDIOSITY and ‘NORMAL’ (# 1)
REMINDER: All posts on ABUSE will have a lot of repetition.
1. KIDS: This is a normal characteristic of small children, all the way thru the teens – thinking they can do much more than they actually can (fly – with their arms, keep playing without having to eat or sleep, get away with misbehaving, doing something big – live driving or having sex – without guidance or training, not needing help “I can do it my-self!”….). It’s a self-focused survival mechanism – preventing children from being crushed by fully realizing the extent of their vulnerability.
The formal definition of grandiosity refers to anyone having a sense of uniqueness, superiority (not a ‘puny human’) – ‘the belief that few others have anything in common with oneself, & that one can only be understood by a few or very special people’. Sound familiar? This is a form of narcissism which is normal in children but is supposed to be outgrown by adulthood.
For ACoAs it’s a continuation of that early psychological defense, not having yet developed a healthy Adult Ego State. As long as our WIC runs the show we use that same protection to hide our sense of vulnerability – which now comes from being stuck in our frightening past. EXPs:
Self-Hate : All of S-H is a form of grandiosity – in negative terms: I are the ‘worst’, the most hopeless, I don’t have the capacity to love, I’ll never get better, I have to give up the hope of finding someone right for me….
❖ Always feeling separate – “I never fit anywhere”, different – but in a bad way, or superior – “I don’t have any problems”, while staying in the Victim role “You just don’t understand!”
No Limits : Not having boundaries – “I’m the same as you, you are me, we feel & think alike…” the state of an infant that we need to outgrow.
❖ Pushing ourselves until we collapse or going beyond normal limits – especially when in a weakened condition. (Run on an injured leg, over-use hands, over-do exercise, going to work when very sick, trying to rescue our Perps or other Victims, mind other peoples’ business ….)
Perfectionism : Yes it shows up everywhere!
This is an impossible goal, regardless of some spiritual teachings, yet we try to compensate for the ongoing inner & outer sense of danger by trying to knowing everything & never make a mistake – instead of healing the wounds that cause our fear.
We’re convinced that anything about us or our actions that’s not 100% ideal (distorted, unrealistic standards) IS:
• our failure to sufficiently compensate for our unwillingness to ‘be good’, which we use to beat ourselves up – & then try again to be inhuman
• proof of our inherent & permanently flawed identity, making us unworthy of anything good, since being defective means we can easily be thrown away. Our imperfect-ness is assumed to be a fatal weakness.
As the WIC says:
“So no one will love or take care of me & then I’ll die”! PS: This is not being dramatic – to a small child.
• the reason why we don’t even bother trying many things we’re actually capable of doing, lest we ‘fail’ (to be perfect).
What an illusion. What a waste of possibilities!
Finished with an Issue : The opposite of “I’ll never get better”. Most common in early Recovery – we think we’re DONE with a character defect or childhood pattern that we worked on for a little while.
OR – we think we should have gotten over our ‘issues’ by now (in Recovery, at our age, with so much therapy….)
❖ When that same old emotional reaction or behavior inevitably resurfaces, usually under stress – we feel defeated, full of S-H & fall back into : “I’m hopeless at this growth stuff. I might as well not even try!”
REALITY: Repetition & Process lead to improvement – NOT perfection!
GIVING UP Grandiosity?
To let go of this defense we need to know all our needs & rights, as well as our limitations. It’s finding a healthy balance between :
🏵 realistic optimism based on acknowledging all examples of our progress – with a realistic understanding of the depth of our wounds & the ongoing nature of process.
It will take the rest of our life – no matter how successful we become. That’s what it means to be human. Al-anon slogan: “Progress, not perfection”!
NEXT: What is Emotional Abuse? #1