WHAT IS GRANDIOSITY?
Grandiosity is a false sense of superiority, an inflated sense of self-worth and importance. Grandiosity must be deflated before we can put our self-esteem into a perspective that acknowledges the importance and worth of those around us. Addiction recovery and grandiosity are second to resentments only when it comes to reasons for relapse.
We are being grandiose when we magnify otherwise minor issues and emotions to gigantic proportions. When this happens, feelings of grandiosity take charge and warp our thinking. We see our concerns as more important than those of others; we are convinced that our opinions are superior and that we can do no wrong. We feel omnipotent, but we may not realize that we are trying to do the impossible – play God. Although we may be unaware of our grandiosity, it’s obvious to others. To those around us, we may appear arrogant, impatient, determined, selfish, aggressive, opinionated and inconsiderate. Grandiosity is as important to understand as gratitude and humility, but it’s often overlooked. Perhaps if it had been termed ‘stubbornness’ or ‘pigheadedness’ it would get more attention. What’s important to remember is that, for some, grandiosity can be as great a threat to recovery and serenity as resentment and anger. If we feel we can do no wrong and have anything we want, we are more likely to convince ourselves that we can use chemicals responsibly. This complacency can motivate us to take that first drink, pill, or other drug that leads to a relapse.
Grandiose ideas are quite easy to acquire. Addiction recovery and grandiosity always go together, because without losing the grandiosity we wont recover. End of story! We live in a society that values material gain and success. Magazines, newspapers and television encourage us to believe that we all deserve the best things in life. Clothes, travel, automobiles, jewellery, big houses and fine food are often portrayed as the obvious reward for the brightest and best of us. We teach at our drug rehab centre that drinking and other drug use often heighten our fantasies of importance and success and are far from what the sober life is about.
The nature of Addiction recovery and grandiosity
Grandiosity shows itself in many ways. A primary characteristic of grandiosity is emotional immaturity, the inability to grow up and the refusal to forget the selfish joys of childhood. A popular expression among people in recovery is “The first thirty-five years of my childhood nearly killed me”. This idea of ‘His Majesty, the Baby’ was first introduced by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. He said that an infant is like a monarch in three ways: Both know they can get what they want by loud behaviour; both have a low tolerance for frustration; and both do everything in a hurry. Grandiose feelings not only encourage us to relive this babyish tyranny but often cause us to stubbornly and arrogantly refuse to admit our childishness.
Addiction recovery and grandiosity issues are laden with self-centredness. To the grandiose person, pleasure comes first, and every success adds to this selfishness. When we were using, some of us developed ingenious ways of keeping others from discovering our hidden bottles or drugs or cleverly concealed the amount of chemicals we were consuming. Some of us were even proud of how well we ‘concealed’ our chemical use and our desperation and expounding illness. Because we were so wrapped up in ourselves, it may not have occurred to us that others weren’t always fooled. When we suffer Addiction recovery and grandiosity, even knowing we are being watched can be an ego-builder; it’s proof of our importance to others. We tend to isolate sub-consciously and end up quite alone. When others become too ‘needling’ or ‘abusive’ about our chemical use, we may believe they are ‘false friends’, whose lack of love we can do without. We tell ourselves, Who needs their affection anyway? I’m my own person and I’m doing okay. Thus when family and friends, or even doctors and therapists, give up and consider us a lost cause, we feel our superiority has been proven.
Grandiosity includes the feeling of being unique that often consumes those of us who are chemically dependent. We may feel sorry for those who lead dull, poor and boring lives: Me? Sober up? Leave my glamorous life to become a carbon copy of those sad people? Or we may perceive our lives and our particular set of problems as different, and perhaps worse, that the problems of those around us. We then feel that others can’t help us because they can’t possibly understand our ‘unique’ situation. Now, do you sometimes feel better than?
And, so Addiction recovery and grandiosity issues lead to rationalising. It supplies the conscious mind with answers to every appeal to quit using chemicals – ready excuses, alibis, cop-outs, loopholes and denials. This narrow-minded way of thinking is the hallmark of grandiosity. It can lead us to refuse to accept that we cannot control our use of chemicals, that we’re powerless over alcohol, or that our lives are unmanageable. When we feel omnipotent, how can we concede that a Power greater than ourselves exists, that our thinking is insane, or that our lives should be turned over to a Higher Power of any kind?
Addiction recovery and grandiosity does not usually provoke angry rebellion against the suggestion that we give up our old lifestyles, the superiority and chemicals; rather, it leads us to a quiet but stubborn refusal to take advice. We hold onto control as tightly as ever – even though we may know historically the way we do things doesn’t work. We may assume a superior attitude and see would-be helpers as inexperienced, ignorant, misguided do-gooders. We tell ourselves, I’m okay; others are much worse than I am. A superior attitude blinds us to the reality of who we are and blocks us from reaching out for the help we need.
For more on Addiction recovery and grandiosity or to do our Addiction Treatment programs in our centre or online, get in touch.