Tag Archives: childhood

Laughing At Ourselves

To itself, a small child is the center of the universe.  It cannot differentiate among itself, its surroundings and its caregivers for some months, and can’t detach completely for years.  Since, to begin with, it’s consciousness is the only one it is able to recognize, it naturally believes that it is the center of everything, and that other people are there to tend to its needs.


As we become older and wiser, we usually gain a sense of perspective and proportion regarding our place in the scheme of things.  However, for those of us whose emotional development was stymied by trauma, abuse, using alcohol or other drugs, or losses of other kinds, it may be difficult to move out of the “me-me-me” stage and through the various passages that lead to maturity and adulthood.  That is almost universally true of alcoholics and other addicts.

That being the case, most of us addicts have problems adjusting to the world by understanding and adopting a sense of ethics, discipline, and other such attributes — most definitely including a sense of humor that allows us to laugh at ourselves.  Like the small child, we take ourselves far too seriously to find humor in our fumbles through life.

One of the first signs of healthy recovery is the ability to find ourselves and our foibles amusing.  The ability to find humor in our mistakes and gaffes gives us a sense of proportion and our place in the world.  Instead of constantly grading our dignity, which leaves us rigid, vulnerable and fragile, we gradually develop a sense of our true importance as human beings — to ourselves and to those around us.

One of our greatest needs as social creatures is to be well-regarded by others.  As addicts, we largely blocked others out of our lives for fear of being thought unworthy. (We call that shame.) Now that we are are beginning to believe that we have self-worth, we can let down our guard and see the ways the amusing human condition shows up in our own lives, instead of merely laughing meanly at others.

By keeping our self-importance in perspective, we learn to grow up in ways that we were previously denied

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Building Self Esteem

Practically all addictions are shame-based.  In some way we have been convinced that we are “less than,” damaged goods, that we don’t measure up, that we are good only for being used, or that we’ll never amount to anything.  When we are told such lies often enough, we internalize them and they become part of our self-image.  At that point they become self-fulfilling prophecies.  If I’m convinced that I’m no good, that I’m flawed, that I’m unworthy, then it’s going to be pretty hard to get anything done in the way of growth and progress with my life.  Even if I do, it’s unlikely ever to be enough to satisfy me — especially if my emotional abusers are still around.

 In order to replace these convictions with a healthy, productive attitude toward ourselves and our lives, we need to overwrite a lot of data: all those messages that said “You’re not good enough,” “You can’t,” “Your brother was smarter,” “Your sister was the loveable one,” “You’ll never amount to anything,” and the other false information we absorbed from the words and actions of people we should have been able to trust — but who let us down. Continue reading

Looking For Love In All The … well, you know …

by Bill

As infants, we thrived on pleasure: eating, sleeping, being cuddled, touched, looked at with love.  These things satisfied inborn needs, and we were always in control, usually contented, and immediately satisfied if we were not.  As we got older we looked for this satisfaction and contentment in other ways, the pleasure of running and playing, delight in our playmates, the scary thrill of discovering that we weren’t really part of our parents, but individuals with our own abilities.

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Re-writing ‘The Legend’ in our minds

We all have a self-concept that is mostly shaped by our perception of how others think of us. This is the “mirroring” that teaches us in early life how to view ourselves and the world. Over-protective parents can make us fearful of life, while strict, shouting parents can make us feel confused and unsure of their consistency and love. Abusive caregivers can cause us to feel worthless, or to pursue similar relationships in hopes of “getting it right this time,” or because they are familiar.

On the other hand, supportive behaviors that give us a realistic view of ourselves and our place in the world can foster healthy self-images and good self-esteem, affecting our feelings about our own stories – the Legends that we write about ourselves in our own heads.
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