Dying For Recognition


We’ve looked at self-pity and deception two of the motives Bill warns us about in this excerpt from page 86.

On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions, we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.

Now we’re ready for the last-named motive in the list of things to look at before we start our day.

Pitfall #3:Self-seeking is a shrinking world. The more we alcoholics indulge in that narrowing behavior, the smaller our focus gets. Pretty soon we’re hardly aware of anyone else or anything else…just our ourselves. Just our selfish aims.

I defined self-seeking earlier as wanting status and having ambitions that necessitate stepping on others. For me, it’s the sacrificing of others that make this such a typical alcoholic move.

I also feel self-seeking behavior can have elements of narcissism* when combined with

  • patterns of grandiosity (exaggerated claims of talent, importance, or specialness) in the addict’s private fantasies or behavior
  • a need for constant admiration or attention from others
  • a lack of empathy or consideration for anyone else

Many individuals fall prey to believing that the world really does revolve around them. The classic examples in my experience are mostly those in positions of authority that cannot be questioned. All that power, all that reverence seems to feed the narcissistic personality.

I know I’ve run into a self-seeking individual when everything I say is boomeranged into a topic about them. Have you ever made a comment about a personal issue or observation only to have someone turn that around and assume you’re really trying to make a point about them? It’s exhausting trying to talk to a self-seeking individual! There’s no point. There’s very little communication taking place. All they see is their own reflection. Just a little more worship, just a little more power… or just a little more empathy, just a little more help…

Carried to the extreme, they become so self-focused that conversation and any form of personal relationship or intimacy are of no value to them unless it’s self-feeding. The typical narcissist is interested in their own reflection. Therefore any pursuits, entertainment, and activities are selected to feed their own interests. Relationships out; entertainment/activity in. For families, it feels like a dictatorship, not a democracy when you try to relate to an extremely self-focused alcoholic.

As alcoholics, even if our motives are not usually driven by self-seeking behavior or narcissism, we have to admit that addictive behavior itself is always self-seeking. The sad fact is that alcoholics who are not in recovery are on a self-destructive path. There never is a time that we can self-destruct without sacrificing the feelings and emotional balance of others. We addicts like to think that we’re only hurting ourselves, but I’ve yet to hear of a story where that’s true. Even when we’d swear we’re all alone and unloved, it’s just not the case. Someone will be affected by our self-seeking, addictive behavior.

For a mental picture that’s not as pretty as the artwork above, consider the following. We self-seeking alcoholics who want to hang onto this character defect become like work horses with blinders, plodding along, unaware of the fact that we’re going in circles. Just a little more… just a little more… just a little more.

*Narcissism refers qualities attributed to Narcissus. Wikipedia gives more information about the legend of Narcissus.

*Narcissistic personality disorder information at Healthline.com