I’ve been struggling with something this past week. It’s a personality trait that’s been problematic my whole life, namely ego, elf-absorption, pride, grandiosity.
As an only child, I had the feeling that the world revolved around me. My mom and dad were divorced, and I divided my time between them. When I was with each one, they focused on me 100%. I felt like I was the center of the universe.
But I learned as a child you’ll be alone if you come across as too grandiose. I was smart but did not make school friends easily. I sat in the front and raised my hand and talked all the time. My dad would try to explain, “You don’t have to raise your hand just because you know the answer. Not always. Don’t toot your own horn.”
Then, after I got clean and sober, I started working the 12 Steps over and over. Each time I would inventory myself in Step 4, my ego would reveal itself to me again, and I would pray in Step 7 for God to remove my grandiosity and grant me humility. But it never seemed to take.
So when I got that message in my morning meditation to “write a book called Bright Line Eating,” I was fully aware that if this book became influential, it could present yet more complications in my quest for humility.
On Facebook last week, I was smacked in the face by a few people in the Bright Line Eating community commenting that they were fed up with how I was marketing the new book. They were angry and disgusted. Everybody with a public persona knows people online can be cruel. Mostly I dismiss it. But I needed to listen this time.
I’d made a post earlier, encouraging people to spread the word about ON THIS BRIGHT DAY. I meant to say, “Hey, everybody! We’ve sold about 2,000 books and our goal is 10,000 books. We already reached the core folks who are paying attention and now we need to roll up our sleeves and figure out how to reach everyone else!” And they took it as me saying that, if they hadn’t pre-ordered the book they were not loyal to the BLE movement. Ouch. I felt terrible about communicating so poorly and I edited the post to what I meant to say.
I went to my spiritual advisor and later I had a session with a therapist for an hour and a half. We uncovered the parts of me that developed this grandiosity throughout my life. I was an only child; there were no kids in my neighborhood, so I was my only entertainer.
It’s been a painful week, but here are some of the lessons I’ve learned.
The first lesson is, as we say in Bright Line Eating, “Seek the lesson.” I stayed in action with my spiritual advisor, my friends, and my therapist. It’s painful when I get chopped off at the knees. But I end up being a person that I like and respect better.
When we have an aspect of ourselves we don’t want, bludgeoning it out of ourselves with a sledgehammer won’t work, because likely there are parts of that aspect of ourselves that are working for us in some way. Effective change requires a scalpel. We need to carefully cut away certain aspects while leaving others.
We talk about peeling an onion in recovery. The core layer of the onion this time was the therapy session when I learned about the part of myself that served as my protection against loneliness.
What I’ve learned is that there are aspects of my calling that do require me to be large. But large in terms of creating something for others. Humility is not being small. Humility is being right-sized. And creating something big as a service to the world need not be an act of ego.
I need to ensure my efforts in Bright Line Eating are first, last, and always about service. Writing my books is a service. It’s the least expensive way for people to access the Bright Transformation. It's about the people who can wake up every morning and read a passage from ON THIS BRIGHT DAY to be inspired to live free from the tyranny of food obsession.
I am egotistical and have always been. I don't like it about myself and that's okay. I'm not okay. You're not okay, and that's okay. We’ll just be here together, doing our best. One day at a time.