“God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.”
Dwight L. Moody
Simple human pride fouled up many of my relationships, experiences and accomplishments.
Pride: a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own ability, dignity, importance, merit or superiority; conceit; arrogance…egotism.
Egotism: excessive reference to oneself; boastfulness, selfishness, self-centeredness…
Mmmm—how could I be prideful and egotistical if I had no self-esteem, no self-worth. As an alcoholic I’m a paradox!
Paradox: a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.
How could I be arrogant and pretentious, but lack self-esteem and self-worth. And, of humility, I certainly had none!
Humility: the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.;…
My low self-esteem caused me to act in ways that distanced me from people as well as camouflaged who I really was. I went to any length to prevent others from seeing what I saw in myself. I perceived myself as inept, inadequate, unworthy—as far from reality as those feelings may have been, I tended to put on a front of superiority giving the impression I was in control. I drove myself into having all the ‘proper trappings,’ the right clothes, the right car, the right address… I pretended to be somebody, but I felt like nobody. I masked the feelings I had about myself with false pride and egotism. I masked self-seeking motives, I convincingly manipulated others into believing my actions were right, even necessary and best for all involved in any given situation. My tremendous need to control always prevailed and eventually this obsession hurt many people. I left a trail of devastation behind. So, I drank more.
These feelings ultimately fueled erratic and self-destructive behaviors. I propelled myself into situations that make me want to cringe today. I gravitated toward people who were as sick or sicker than I was! I allowed family and friends to treat me poorly. I tolerated it, more than that I thought I deserved it. I drove recklessly, gambled with my health, found myself in precarious situations that were sometimes dangerous or harmful. But, the mental torture was the worst of all. It was a rare day when I didn’t berate myself for one thing or another. This spiral down, into what I called the dark night of my soul, began with low self-esteem which led to false pride and an oversize ego.
Self-worth is not something I lacked for years, then suddenly gained and have forever. The reality is that sometimes my self-worth plummets. On occasion it disappears for a brief period of time. While today, it’s true I feel good about myself most of the time; I’ve learned not to take it for granted. When I am sick, make a mistake or even make a thoughtless remark I can lapse into my old mind set and start doubting myself. I know to recognize this negative mind set and try to replace those thoughts with an accurate and honest perspective, preventing myself from exhibiting prior destructive behaviors.
I can listen to the voice of my ego or the voice of God. How do I tell the difference? By how I truly feel. The ego always leaves me with some misgivings, that feeling in the “gut.” God’s guidance assures me. Corrie Ten Boom wrote: “The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.” And, I believe an unchecked ego is humankind’s natural enemy! A great hindrance to spiritual progress. And, my ego driven pride was and can be my worst adversary.
“ Do not be afraid of the ego. It depends on your mind, and as you made it by believing in it, so you can dispel it by withdrawing belief from it.”
A Course in Miracles
And what of humility, I had none, nor did I ever really understand humility, the opposite side of the coin – pride. I always struggled with humility, I could never define it. I found the meaning of humility defined in Step Five in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions on page 58: “…humility-a word often misunderstood. To those who have made progress in A. A. , it amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.”
“Humility is a strange thing, the minute you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it.”
E. D. Holse