Some people describe addiction as a spiritual disease as much as it is a mental, emotional or physical one. Just like depression and other mental illnesses, addiction can be seen as being a deep disconnect within us that severs our connection with our higher power as well as the interconnectedness of our different parts. We become disjointed. Our minds, bodies, hearts, souls and spirits are not in harmony. What does the ego have to do with all of this? Wayne Dyer defines the “ego” as “edging God out.” It is the sense of self, the thinking mind, the part of us that we use to identify who we are. We see ourselves as individuals, with unique traits and characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, talents and gifts. We also have our own particular flaws, many of which we have a hard time accepting and coming to terms with.
Theoretically speaking, there is nothing wrong with having an ego, or a sense of self. It’s important to know who we are, to learn how to identify ourselves. Without our sense of self, we might never find our purpose or elevate into higher consciousness. The problem with ego comes when it has been wounded and we have yet to heal from our wounds. Our traumas, our fears and insecurities leave our ego broken and constantly seeking relief from the emotional pain we inflict upon ourselves.
Our wounded ego can destroy our self-esteem. We lack self-confidence and self-acceptance. We think we’re not good enough. We compete with other people and feel as though we’ll never measure up. We compare ourselves to others we feel are a threat to us. We feel jealous in our relationships, terrified our partner we’ll leave us. We become envious of other people’s success and happiness, and we begrudge others their blessings. We’re constantly trying to prove ourselves, to win people over, to receive praise and avoid rejection. We become overly afraid of judgment and criticism. We worry about what people think of us. We take things personally. We transfer our hurts from one thing onto another. We lash out at people, or we cower, paralyzed by fear. We don’t feel self-assured, grounded or centered within ourselves. We can feel like we’re all over the place, pulled in a million different directions. We never feel satisfied with who we are or where we are in life. We don’t feel at ease or at peace. We don’t feel stable or secure.
When we are still grappling with a broken sense of self, we try to escape our pain using our addictions. Our drugs of choice, the substances, behaviors and relationships we’re dependent upon, are what we use to self-medicate. We don’t develop healthy coping skills for mental and emotional balance, and we don’t create a healthy or whole self-image for ourselves. We are deeply unwell. Our wounded ego and our addictions are like fuel for each other’s fire, compounding, exacerbating and perpetuating one another.
Bayview Recovery is an addiction treatment and recovery center that treats substance abuse and co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, ADHD and bipolar disorder. Call 888-570-7154 today to get the help and support you need.