Alcoholism and Self Sabotage

Sobriety Navigator: Alcoholism and self-sabotage

It is often said in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings that an alcoholic is an ego maniac with an inferiority complex.

It is not uncommon to hear people in recovery from alcoholism talk about their struggle with self-esteem and self-acceptance.  Quite often in the beginning of the recovery process they are not aware of just how severe their low self-esteem really is. They have a core belief that they are not now, and never will be, good enough for themselves. This self-contempt and self-loathing has the potential to contaminate any genuine and healthy relationship they may enter. There is a false belief that if someone accepts or cares for them in any way, there is something fundamentally wrong with that person, too. Any display of genuine care or acceptance from another person will only provoke contempt, disdain and cynicism.  

The thought of genuine emotional, spiritual or psychological intimacy can be very uncomfortable, or even repugnant, to them. These repugnant feelings are really toxic shame which is rooted in the fundamental core belief that they are defective.

“I’ve got a secret,” or “ I’m no good.”  This is a common belief held by most alcoholics when they first walk through the doors of AA. If accepted into an organization or institution, they are constantly haunted by feelings of guilt that in some way they have deceived someone to get there.  Why else would they have been let in?  This constant belief that they are undeserving can create overwhelming feelings of stress.  These people will often try to overcompensation for this sense of inferiority by either displaying a sense of entitlement or grandiosity. They may step on the toes of others and try to control them by using overbearing or bullying tactics. Then, there are those who go to the other extreme and constantly seek approval.  They cling to other people for a sense of safety and security to the point of emotionally draining them. Over time, people will tire of these displays of arrested development and will begin to distance themselves for the sake of their own survival. This only confirms, once more, that they are on the outside looking in, never a part of anything. This confirms their sense of unworthiness. They also know that everyone is out to get them.

By working the 12 steps of Alcoholic Anonymous, alcoholics begin to look at themselves from another perspective. They realize that their core beliefs about themselves are false. The truth will surface that they are not terminally flawed, but that their belief system is what has kept them isolated and has sabotaged their chances for success. This toxic shame that is constantly eroding and sabotaging every aspect of their lives must be addressed or it will destroy them. Living in a state of constant fear only erodes their chance of harmony with others and an inner piece known as serenity.

Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Not a bad proposition to consider, considering the alternatives.

By Cynthia Peterson                                                                                                 



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