Valuing Your Ordinary
Everyone is both special and ordinary. People who have buried feelings of being worthless and unlovable run from being average by inflating their abilities or seeking attention. Both types easily feel slighted, but inflated personalities often become enraged because their whole self-concept is threatened by undesired responses, whereas dramatic personalities only risk losing support. Inflated people may openly or subtly belittle others to bolster their fragile egos. Dramatic people are far too charming for this and rely on their manipulative skills. Both find it useful to busy themselves with big productions or exciting activities to avoid emotional pain. Six or more items marked in either column below can suggest that the ordinary self has been pushed aside by the performer.
ORIGIN OF PROBLEMS
People with the above characteristics may have been attractive, talented, or advanced as children and indulged by their parents. However, high praise and attention may have been contingent on displays of ability, and young ones may have felt devastated when they did not meet expectations of being special. Their parents may have modeled similar inflated or dramatic characteristics and viewed their children as extensions of themselves—“Be wonderful for me. Do my bidding.” Like their parents, they learned to feel entitled to special treatment. Seductive qualities can develop when the opposite-sex parent is more available and nurturing and the same- sex parent is not affectionate or supportive.
Unusual abilities and attractiveness suggests that nature plays a role in the development of these problems. In addition, inflated personalities may be prone to overrespond to their environment and handle stress with nonstop talking or striking out. Dramatic people may be less reactive and seek excitement for energy and to fill an internal void. Difficulty turning inward to pause and reflect and caretakers who pushed performance with little understanding of vulnerability may create problems with compassion and empathy.
THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE
Giving up exaggerating, belittling, seeking attention, manipulating, playing on sympathy, and busyness can be painful. Without such defenses, you may fear you have no value; however, these patterns can drive others away and make it impossible to gain the very things you want most. Recognizing what you are doing is a giant step forward. No matter how good your ability to feel accomplished and gain attention, you will have moments of deep hurt. These are opportunities for growth. Keep a journal of upsetting incidents and use them to turn inward and identify what others’ behavior means about you.
Directions: Mark any thoughts you get in your worst moments. Then, identify beliefs you would like to have about yourself and affirm these new ideas regularly.
Turn Defeating Thoughts into
Beliefs That Promote Change
I’m defective if I’m corrected.
I have value even when others disapprove.
I’m unimportant when I’m not “respected.”
I still matter when others don’t “respect” me.
I’m better than others are.
I’m as good as others and visa versa.
People should accept me as I am.
People can love me without liking all of me.
Releasing my anger helps me feel better.
Understanding others helps me feel better.
Others are uncaring and disrespectful.
Others have needs and struggles of their own.
Everyone must love me.
I am worthy even when others aren’t loving.
have to be the most attractive person.
I’m still loveable when others are attractive.
I cannot survive rejections.
I’ve survived before and I’ll survive again.
It’s awful when things don’t go my way.
I can handle it when things don’t go my way.
It will be easier to identify your defeating thoughts by intentionally creating situations that bring them to the surface. Pick any of the following exercises that sound hard or distasteful. Find a family member or friend to be your coach.