ACTING ALL SUPERIOR?
REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
IN IT’S SIMPLEST FORM, the opposite of self-hate is self-esteem. Since our Western culture is based a great deal on outer appearance, most people think that if you look & sound good, you must:
• have come from a nice, happy family background
• be happy, healthy & have good self-esteem (S.E.)
ACoAs believe that in spades. We assume that anyone who has OR seems to have personal qualities & a life style that we don’t (a variety of relationships, making $$, an education, travel…) – must have a positive sense of identity. Actually, there’s a big difference between true self-esteem & the facade of it. Various defense mechanisms can mimic it, especially narcissism.
Self Esteem is NOT….
1. …. based solely on activities or accomplishments
• there are people who are famous, rich, powerful – but we know from their bios that many are active addicts, spouse abusers & sometimes murderers, have relationships full of drama or can’t commit at all….
2. …. acting entitled, superior, arrogant, pushy
• anyone who acts this way is covering up feeling scared & insecure, even though they may not be consciously aware of it. Acting entitled is narcissistic – they believe only they have rights!
3. …. being superhuman – highly accomplished, chasing the impossible, being the best of the best
• achieving big things may or may not benefit humanity. What’s important here is MOTIVATION. The compulsion to succeed is driven by anxiety, not S.E. – fear of failure, fear of being found out as a fraud, fear of poverty, fear of being powerless, fear of being controlled….
4. …. being a super-helper – rescuer, martyr, people-pleaser
• being ‘wonderful’ to everyone, long-suffering, over-tolerant, over-doing… comes from LOW S.E. & FoA. Without Recovery, sooner or later, they may have some type of collapse or live with chronic depression
5. …. always being right – having all the answers, needing to prove what we know
• ‘know-it-alls’ use their info as a battering ram or as a shield – either way it comes from insecurity. It’s a defense – they have to keep the facade of being better than they feel inside. It’s also a way to keep emotions at bay – focusing on facts rather than feelings
6. …. being powerful – lording it over others, being controlling
• the need to use personal power to make others submissive or compliant is both narcissistic & cruel – whether done by a CEO or a mother. All forms of controlling is based in fear, which the person is usually not aware of, or not willing to acknowledge
7. …. being perfect – the ‘good’ one, the Hero, Ms or Mr Popular
• while there is social acceptability in this persona, it is usually based in the co-dependent need to be approved of, to be mirrored by the admiration of others, rather than having a clear internal sense of self. Without this constant reinforcement, the person is depressed & at sea.
8. …. having lots of relationships, but superficially, with people who are:
• needy & insecure or narcissistic, are users, have the same social interests, like being paid attention to or rescued, want to be around fame & power…
• having ‘friends’ by itself does not automatically imply S.E. It depends on the quality, depth & mental health of the relationships
9. …. doing whatever we want – needing instant grat, having transient relationships, running away, ignoring others
• this is immaturity, being run by their WIC, fear, weak boundaries, narcissism, irresponsibility
10. …. being ‘cool’ – repressing emotions, being in control, not needing others, being mysterious, above it all
• it is actually being cut off from most or all their emotions, numb, hard, angry. It’s also from fear of failure, of abandonment, of being trapped & suffocated emotionally, & keeps them disconnected from others
Part 2: What Self-Esteem IS