Monday, February 15, 2010

Arrogance & Addiction

Arrogance is the opposite of humility. Humility is not however low self esteem. Humility represents the healthy positive attitude of a 'right sized' ego. Like most aspects of health, mental health and spiritual health included there is a concept of homeostasis. Like weight, and temperature, etc. ,too much or too little of a thing is equally unhealthy.

Arrogance is commonly a sign of drug or alcohol addiction, active or "dry" but certainly not 'sober'. Emotional sobriety refers to having humility as a cornerstone of one's life. Humility is that middle place between a superiority complex or an inferiority complex both of which vie as unique and carry with them 'narccisstic entitlement". Entitlement is a key feature of arrogance.

While souls may be equal before God, and individuals equal in democratic votes, they are not equal in skills or capacity. A pilot flies a plane while an arrogant person may claim they can fly a plane without experience, education and credentials. They overstate their situation, claiming either a monopoly on superiority or a monopoly on suffering. Both deviations represent arrogance.

In addiction work they are said to be a "legend in their own mind". Another term is 'egomaniac with an inferiority complex'. Whatever the underlying issues, they come accoss as arrogant, self centered and shallow.

The trouble with addiction is that it disconnects an individual from community and profoundly affects their capacity for relationships. The paranoia associated with addiction results in a sense of inferiority (I need my addiction) and I need to prove myself, so I can deny my addictive need. Lacking internal valedation, dependent on their addiction, they have need for more increasing external validation. This is the 'more' of addiction. How much do you want? More. How much do you need? More.

The addiction to substance moves to addiction to external validations such as fame or fortune. The greater this is driven by fear or comparison or envy the greater the arrogance. Some arrogant people thrive in hierarchy because they have those below them to sneer at and those above them to fawn.

Arrogant people rarely know they are arrogant. This is because their arrogant exterior stems from either a superiority complex or inferiority complex both of which stem from an 'emptiness' and a need to 'fill' that emptiness with anything but 'relationship': relationship with self, relationship with others or relationship with God. Arrogance is false pride. They prefer their own lies about themselves and are masterful at arranging their lives to avoid hearing truth, either by prickliness, threats of suicide or homicide or variations of such emotional extortion, or by surrounding themselves with yes men and yes women or isolation. They tend to keep moving. They "use" and "take" and do little to 'reciprocate' and 'replenish'.

They are often also called psychopaths or sociopaths because of their lack of empathy and over riding self centeredness and manipulativeness. Addiction is called the "great eraser' as it removes first the highest ideals of humanity, that which separates us from animals, the mammalian relational world of family and community and ultimately all but the "false self". For the arrogant and the addicted all is sacrificed for the 'false self". The true self is "apart of" and not "a part from". Happy individuals are 'happy in their own skin' and in their 'relationships". They are not 'paranoid'.

Arrogance is only possible with gross dishonesty. Honesty leads us directly to humility. Honesty is the cornerstone of recovery from addiction. With honesty one can see that they are indeed "not God" and that they can not be the 'best' in everything, being human they make mistakes, are finite and have limitations. They understand the 'golden rule' "love thy neighbor as thyself' or put another way 'do unto others what you would have them do unto you." The arrogant fundamentally can't accept this rule and believe themselves above the law. They believe that there will be no ultimate consequence to their action. They commonly make fun of the spiritual because an afterlife would be frightening to them when they're living on the idea that they can get away with murder. Their principal rule is 'don't get caught.' They are 'baby' souls and as such need to be understood.

But they also don't recognize that the more 'reductionist' they are, treating others as 'things' the more 'thing like' they become. Consequently eating a steak they really only experience cardboard. The difficulty for the young is that they compare their 'insides' with others 'outsides' and can't recognize the 'chameleon nature' of the arrogant. The arrogant put on a good show but in the end it's just a show because the more they alienate the more alone and afraid and alien they become.

The ancient Greeks saw arrogance as 'false pride' and that 'false pride' invariably lead to a major fall in which the individual's physical losses are matched with the potential for spiritual gains and insights into the truth about themselves, their relationship to others and ultimately their relationship to God.

This is what is called 'recovery'. When one stops the addiction they enter onto a journey of recovery where they regain their relationships with self, others and God. They become 'child like' again experiencing life at it's fullest rather than as the shallow false reality of addiction. No longer arrogant they learn humility and experience gratitude. The greatest gift of recovery for so many is being thankful to be alive. The arrogant are never satisfied with life. The humble celebrate life.

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