Grandiosity and Importance
“As we grew, we began to feel responsible for how everything around us turned out– the happiness and suffering of our parents, our spouses, our friends, our colleagues and our children. One of the reasons we learned to judge ourselves so mercilessly is that we held ourselves to a much higher standard than the rest of humanity. Others were allowed to fail, to falter, to seek the help of others; we, on the other hand, were required to do it all perfectly, by ourselves, without a mistake, without the aid of anyone else.”
“When we take on the mantle of “special,” we invariably delude ourselves with the measure of our own importance. Seduced by the notion that our work is indispensable to the continuation of the species, we invariably feel tired, frightened and alone, holding onto a deeply private suffering that no one can touch. Only by letting go of our inflated sense of importance may we begin to find the companionship and healing that comes with being simply human.”
Grandiosity and Woundedness
“It is hard for any of us to let go of feeling broken. As long as we take certain pride in how wounded and misunderstood we were as children of our family pain and dysfunction, the more tenaciously we hold onto our conviction that we are special. But what if we are no longer sick, no longer handicapped? What if we have simply become addicted to the idea of being especially ill– to the point that when someone accuses us of being ordinary, with no special needs or problems, we feel slighted?”
“For several weeks I playfully accused Doug [his client]) of being the most ordinary person I had ever met. One day he came in and said to me, “You know, I have been trying on the idea of being ordinary and at first I felt small and afraid, angry that no one was paying attention to me. But when I stopped working so hard at being special, I realized no one was paying attention to me, and I could just be who I was. I started to feel relaxed, even calm inside. Even when it lasted only a few minutes, I felt incredibly free.”
How would you feel if someone told you you were ordinary? What would you think?
Do you hold on to the idea of being special in either your importance or your woundedness? What would your life be like if you could let those attitudes and thoughts go?
From Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood by Wayne Muller, Simon and Schuster, 1992, pages 74-84.