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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:29 am 
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This pride thing comes out a lot when it comes to my H. It could even be a source of his anger. When I point out some things he gets angry and responds irrationally, afterwards he realises there is truth in what I said but he is too proud to admit it therefore he denies it. Actually I think there is an automatic reaction of denial the second I say something, just because I said it, he doesn't even listens or wonders if there might be any truth to that. He says in time he accepts it internally and he tries to change how he behaves based on it but he wouldn't admit it to my face, just because it comes from me, he hates it and I guess he hates me too in those moments (he never used the word "hate", this is how it feels to me). When he does come to admit it (rarely) he is still very harsh ... he admits to very little, if I try to push it he quickly becomes defensive again, there is a lot of frustration and he is very sensitive, it can easily lead to another row ... he would accuse me of never wanting to acknowledge the good in him or any of his progress ... wanting to put him down.

I see a pattern of ... when he tries to give "me" some credit he is very reluctant (probably even anxious that he feels he has to), he "hates" to do it, he is not open or vulnerable ... I don't even know why exactly he does it ... might be he tries to be fair when it becomes obvious to him he mistreated me ... or he sees things really went out of hand and it's his way of proposing truce ... He seems open when he says sorry and when he explains his limitations but if I dare push it he quickly closes up and defends himself by attacking me (all the times when I was wrong). On the other hand, I see his coming to me as an opportunity to further open his eyes. I try to have an open conversation about what he was saying but he shuts down and becomes aggressive. Clearly he doesn't want to hear more and it stands in direct contradiction with the very things he was trying to tell me he understood about himself (basically his pride and anger when faced with the truth) so I am left wondering what it is exactly that he understands or what exactly was the point to all of this if he is not aware in the very second that he is doing it again ...

Anyways, pride seems to be one big issue. But what exactly is this pride? I know my primary definition of pride is not let others take advantage of me. When I sense that someone is using me, this pride element acts like a self-protection mechanism. Lately I've been replacing this kind of pride with my newly found values of self-worth and self-love that I'm trying to develop. Apart from that there is a bit of pride when I am proven wrong but I do not have real trouble in admitting to that even if I might feel very vulnerable and I might feel a tear forming in the corner of my eye (if there is something serious, not just for every trifle). Actually openly admitting I was dead wrong makes me feel so very vulnerable, soft, teary, full of remorse and empathy, it's all so very emotional and I have a lump in my throat. Especially with the kids when I need to ask them for forgiveness (rarely but it happens ..) I found that I have two ways of doing it: one cold and justified (something like I was wrong but you pushed me ... or my mistake was a direct consequence of your actions) and one all mushy that is hard to bear but that's the honest one, no justification, no blame shifting, just pain and embarassment of being so vulnerable in front of them. Much to their praise, they have such a natural gentleness not to prolongue the torture and they quickly say ... that's ok mommy and they give me a hug. Can it be that my H experienced only the first half-way admitance of being wrong even to himself? Can it be that he doesn't feel safe to be vulnerable? I admit I'm not good at saying "that's ok, dear" and give him a hug. I'm scared of him not seeing further or thinking I accept his violations. I guess he doesn't trust me and I do not trust him.

So, what can this pride be for him? I do know that "men hate to admit when they are wrong". Ok, why is that? What is wrong with being wrong? Must you be right all the time? What does that mean? If you are right? Does it mean you are wise or worthy? What does it mean if you are wrong? Are you worthless or a failure? Why would pride become anger? Why would pride become verbal aggression? My guess is it's a self-defence mechanism, a way of not allowing ourselves to see how we really are, to admit to uncomfortable truths, to make ourselves feel "less" than the other person, to make ourselves feel better by denial.
Can someone keep their pride and still progress? Is pride keeping them from really connecting and being vulnerable?
How can this pride be dealt with? Is it a symptom of emotional immaturity or is it a problem in itself? Does it need special attention or will it align by itself once a person grows emotionally?

If anyone had a similar problem and they managed to deal with it, I would appreciate sharing your wisdom.
I know I probably also make a lot of mistakes, I'm trying to understand how to react ... I've decided not to comment further when my H approaches me, however, I fail miserably every time but from hoping things can improve if I could just reach to his better nature that I know he has ... As a matter of fact, I do not comment on his recovery anymore (that's entirely his business now), usually it's about the kids or all the negative energy and tension that sometimes builds up between us. Still, I have this distinct feeling he hides behind his pride, he is using it as a wall. I do not know how to bring down this wall or even if it's possible. Is it possibile my reaction reinforces the wall? Or is it my H's will entirely? Must he grow real self-worth and self-identity before he will give up pride as a coping mechanism? Will he ever give it up? Can I live with it (ups, that's for me to answer :)))?

_________________
"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:45 am 
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Hi Ursula - I know for me that pride comes from my feeling of satisfaction and pleasure from accomplishing my goals and living by my values. It is based on my feelings and behavior that would never need to be kept hidden or secret; I would be able to print on the front page of the New York Times whatever I did or felt that made me feel proud. But I don't need to publicize what makes me proud. Pride, to me, is all about internal validation (me feeling good about me) and not external validation (others feeling good about me). I get tremendous satisfaction when I do live by my values (trying to get back to all that!).

When I read about what is happening with your husband, I think of the words "wounded pride." But, I don't think this is about pride, I think it is about self protection and defensiveness. I think when I give "constructive feedback" to my husband it can very easily seem overwhelming, critical, damaging. Maybe I am giving the feedback in a hurtful way, or maybe I am giving it compassionately, and it can still have a negative impact. I see it not as pride at all but as a symptom of both a fragile sense of self and a dread of being accountable for behavior.

I know right now that any criticism, deserved or not, from my husband is not received well by me. If we had true intimacy, I would be able to hear it without feeling defensive, attacked, unfairly treated. So, since I feel these feelings right now, I can only imagine what my husband is feeling. My goal is that we both have the health to feel confident enough about ourselves, and about each other, that we can give and receive feedback about our behavior in a way that seems supportive and constructive, and frankly, loving. To do that, my husband will need to recover; I will need to heal; we will have to develop trust and intimacy. We need more time to do that.

So, to get to the here and now, I struggle as well with how to talk to my husband. We are struggling with this problem right now. I am choosing to shut up. The problem with that approach is that it makes my husband feel abandoned and makes me feel distant and disconnected. To be fair, my husband is talking to me about all of this and I deeply appreciate that. I think the best thing is for my husband to learn to say: "I can't talk about this rignt now" or "I can't hear you say these things to me rignt now". And, he needs to say that without anger or defensiveness. And, I need to accept that answer and to shut up. Maybe you can ask your husband to try to learn to respond in this way as well.

I hope this helps.

dnell


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:35 am 
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I actually have experience with this in a very personal way - in that it is VERY difficult for me to admit when I am wrong. I think my experience could fit that of someone with an addiction, because it comes down to black and white thinking. I'm getting better at this, but for a long time I felt that if I admitted that I was wrong about something, it meant that I was a bad person and unlovable. Being wrong was a very shaming experience because it meant that the core of me was wrong. I couldn't separate being incorrect from being bad and so I avoided admitting fault at all costs. It absolutely was a pride issue, but it was there because I was protecting my view of my core self - not the specific behavior that was being discussed.

If he's thinking in black and white: "She thinks I'm bad", because he can't grasp the concept of you recognizing bad behavior but still able to love the core person, then he likely would respond to you in a primarily negative way. He expects your words to be an attack, and treats them as such. If this is the case, then what he wants is for you to dismiss all bad behaviors and accept him and his behaviors as legitimate because the two choices are "She loves me along with these behaviors" or "She thinks everything that I am is scum."

ursula wrote:
Can someone keep their pride and still progress? Is pride keeping them from really connecting and being vulnerable?
How can this pride be dealt with? Is it a symptom of emotional immaturity or is it a problem in itself? Does it need special attention or will it align by itself once a person grows emotionally?


I think someone could likely progress to a point while keeping this sort of pride, but I think eventually they are going to hit a wall. At some point they are going to need to take responsibility for their actions in order to heal, and that is going to require facing the risk that they are worthless. (Not that they actually are worthless! But that would be their perception... that if they admitted this then they are admitting being worthless.) He will likely need to give this special attention in order to overcome it. I know I did. I don't think I would have "grown out of it." There are still times when I realize that I was wrong about something and a wave of shame and panic washes over me and I have to remind myself that it's okay to be wrong, and that it's okay to love myself and accept the fact that others love me - wrongness and all.

Quote:
Is it possibile my reaction reinforces the wall?


I suppose that there are reactions that could reinforce this behavior. If you became emotionally abusive when he admitted fault, then that would reinforce those beliefs and actions. But if you're acting as a mature, healthy adult; wanting him to take responsibility for his actions and come to a conclusion on how he will fix it, then I would say it's more likely that you're not having much of an impact on it. And if he is using a healthy reaction from you to validate his unhealthy beliefs, then that is his problem to solve and not yours.

ursula wrote:
Must he grow real self-worth and self-identity before he will give up pride as a coping mechanism?


I think this is likely, yes. The alternative is to accept that he is unlovable. And that is a very high price to pay.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:17 am 
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Hi all,

To me, there's two types of pride, both of which have already been described in this thread.

Quote:
I know for me that pride comes from my feeling of satisfaction and pleasure from accomplishing my goals and living by my values. It is based on my feelings and behavior that would never need to be kept hidden or secret; I would be able to print on the front page of the New York Times whatever I did or felt that made me feel proud. But I don't need to publicize what makes me proud. Pride, to me, is all about internal validation (me feeling good about me) and not external validation (others feeling good about me). I get tremendous satisfaction when I do live by my values (trying to get back to all that!).


That's the "good" kind of pride...pride that comes from accomplishing something. As you say, it is inherently selfless; you do not feel the need to project it to the world; the feelings from knowing that you did what was right, did something that you valued, is enough. I think this type of pride is fine.

The other type of pride is the "bad" type of pride, and it is indeed a self-defense, self-protection mechanism from admitting error or admitting a problem. This is the selfish form of pride, and it's definitely an issue for many people that struggle with addiction (and also many who don't).

I think that there's lots of reasons for this. One purely social reason (even outside the realm of addiction, though it can influence people with addictions) is, as you say, "men hate to admit when they are wrong". And so do a lot of people! :w: For men particularly though, I think there is often a lot of social pressure from a young age against "showing weakness"...you must "be tough", "be a leader", which gives young men the idea that being vulnerable or admitting fault will result in social isolation (which can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy, unfortunately).

At least for people with addictions, these patterns develop in parallel with the addiction, and exist for essentially the same reason: immediate emotional gratification. The easiest way to understand these patterns (even if they're analyzing them in your own life) is to consider someone's childhood and development. For those who have grown up in abusive households, admitting that you're wrong could result in physical abuse. For someone who grew up in a controlling or perfectionistic family, admitting that you're wrong could result in emotional abuse, punishment, consequences, etc. What does this teach a child? That being vulnerable is wrong. That admitting fault will cause them to get in trouble, make them feel bad...or even result in physical injury. Add to that general emotional immaturity (and lack of skills to manage uncomfortable emotions), the expectations of society, and years of ingraining and reinforcing such patterns...and you have an adult who will shield themselves in any way from admitting they're wrong, even in cases where the consequences would be minor (or as dnell said, even during constructive feedback). This obviously has a lot of consequences, in relationships, in honesty, in basic decision-making...even in early recovery. The chaos and disorientation in early recovery is partially due to recognizing just how wrong you've been.

In my view, this also has to do with conditional vs. unconditional love. In families where kids are shown unconditional love, kids feel the freedom to be wrong, knowing that even if they are wrong, they will be ultimately supported. In children who grew up with conditional love...being wrong can lead to getting in trouble, withholding of love, and feelings of abandonment, low self-worth, etc. So what do they learn? Not to be wrong...or if they are wrong, to not admit it, or hide the times that they're wrong. Of course, this is not healthy and create a lot of fear, anxiety, etc...a usual prerequisite for the development of compulsive behaviours.

Quote:
I actually have experience with this in a very personal way - in that it is VERY difficult for me to admit when I am wrong. I think my experience could fit that of someone with an addiction, because it comes down to black and white thinking. I'm getting better at this, but for a long time I felt that if I admitted that I was wrong about something, it meant that I was a bad person and unlovable. Being wrong was a very shaming experience because it meant that the core of me was wrong. I couldn't separate being incorrect from being bad and so I avoided admitting fault at all costs. It absolutely was a pride issue, but it was there because I was protecting my view of my core self - not the specific behavior that was being discussed.


This is a good acknowledgement, and something that a lot of people I believe struggle with, addiction or not. This has a lot to do with perfectionistic thinking. Like how I described above, people who develop these patterns tend to develop very strong ideas and boundaries around the concepts of right and wrong, good and bad, which lends itself to black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking. For example, "Someone told me I did something wrong...I'm wrong." "I wasn't good enough to win...I'm a failure." Again, as these delusions (which is what they are) set in, the thought of being "bad" or "wrong" usually causes rather significant distress and anxiety. to give you a personal example...one of my patterns I ingrained due to my OCD was that "if I am wrong...I have to kill myself." Obviously, this is extreme all-or-nothing thinking...but because I had no understanding of how delusional this is, any time I was wrong, it caused me to have severe anxiety (which I then dealt with through compulsive behaviours.)

As you said (and I alluded too), what has likely happened is at some point, you attached to some idea (or pattern of ideas) that linked being bad or wrong to being unlovable or not being worthy of love. Obviously, intellectually, you know that this is not the case...yet, the feeling is still there, and it will persist unless you do enough work to uncover the core. For many people with addictions (and I'd imagine even many without), they can even have ingrained the belief that "I'm a fundamentally bad person"...which also causes a lot of subconscious distress, since I think it is a normal psychological attribute that everyone wants to see themselves as a "good person". So this is definitely something worth looking into more. The answer is there (and it's likely rooted in your childhood), so keep digging mentally until you find it.

Ending such patterns around pride and perfectionism is harder than it looks. For example, for those who've developed ideas around the need to "be good" or "not be wrong" (particularly when they're very deeply ingrained)...well, who doesn't want to be good? Who wants to be wrong? These are normal human ways of thinking to an extent, and this is what makes the unhealthy parts of these problems difficult to tackle...as you must have the awareness to recognize that you are struggling with your ideas and perception about what is good and bad, right and wrong, not some kind of absolutes based on reality. In reality, very few actions can be classified as completely good or bad, right or wrong, as most actions have both positive and negative consequences in some way.

As well, you must have substantial awareness and the motivation to live life the way you want. This goes back to how I said these patterns can be self-fulfilling and reinforcing. For instance, say someone is trying to be more vulnerable about themselves. They admit that they're wrong, are vulnerable, etc....and end up getting in trouble, getting yelled at, experiencing some kind of negative consequences...which reinforces their negative perception that "I should have kept it hidden". The person must have the awareness that simply experiencing initial discomfort doesn't mean that what they did was wrong...which is why they must keep their eye on honesty, intimacy, communication, integrity, etc. as long-term values to develop. So it takes a lot of awareness to realize that even if you may feel "wrong" initially, what you did by being open and honest was right.

I'm also not saying that you shouldn't get upset at your partners because it could reinforce these patterns. Your partners are responsible for their own actions and their own emotional management. It is their responsibility to grow up...and your responsibility to do what is best based on your own values. And as dnell mentioned, it can be a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario...where if you do call them out, they get defensive and if you don't talk at all, they feel abandoned (and again, yes this is immature, and no it is not your fault).

However, if you are both committed to healing your relationship, I think there are ways to work on the issue...such as supporting and encouraging your partner in times they do admit fault, or as dnell says, even encouraging your partner to admit when they are struggling with being called out and take a break, provided you can return to the conversation at a time when they have had time to manage their feelings in a healthy way. As well, I think times where you specifically go through situations that have occurred and discuss responses (such as "What you did here was wrong, but admitting that you were wrong was right and good") can be beneficial. So there are ways to at least improve your communication...but again, this would only be in situations where both people are committed to recovery and healing the relationship. If your partner isn't, then tell them they're wrong as many times as you need to.

Whew, that was long! :s: But I find the idea of perfectionism interesting, likely because it's something I've struggled with for so long. Hope that helps! :g:

Boundless

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"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:19 am 
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WOW, thank you all, Dnell, Mrs. Jones, and especially CoachBoundless for a very thorough response. It does help a lot, I will keep reading it until I get it all in. Especially the explanation about how it develops is valuable to me as a mom as I've been noticing my stepson is extremely reluctant to own any kind of mistakes. If he makes a mistake with the homework and I point it out he quickly corrects it and then he tells me ... where is the mistake? you were wrong, tehre is no mistake ... he does it more or less jokingly but it terrifies me ... we've been slowly trying to change this patterns and interpretations ... mistakes are good because they are the only way we can progress, etc., i also make a lot of mistakes but then i set them right again, etc. I try to validate being human but it's already ingrained ... that is why i even make a point of asking them for forgiveness and openly admit my mistakes. In a way I try to role model it instead of just demanding it from them while Im always right.

Interesting the association of perfectionism. I'm also guilty of that. I spent yesterday analysing the whole thing and i think i might be compulsively trying to point out things, especially when my H shows opening up ... i perceive it as a good moment in which he might be receptive. Therefore it is a recipe for disaster because he withdraws immediately and it feels like he is taking back even what he was trying to apologise for.

There are always huge gaps between intention, how it is expressed and how it is decoded at the other end. We decode everything from ready made positions and assumptions, therefore we rarely change our perceptions, we interpret everything in a way to confirm what we previously thought about each other. Even before the conversation starts we have agendas, fears, expectations, and we furiously defend our mental positions because we genuinly belive the other one is at fault ... we accuse each other of the very same thing ... basically not wanting to understand and see the positives and it may as well be correct, i think we are both guilty of it. In his case he is probably lacking empathy and he does not trust anyone, in my case i do not trust anything he says, therefore there is always a mental filter which distorts everything he tries to convey. Plus, we do not really share our thoughts, details, events and our inferences on them ... but we throw them around in the middle of a heated argument to demostrate how wrongly we are treated and how unfair it all is. Again, there are different reasons why we do this but we are both doing it. So, yes, his pride gets in the way, granted, however, I think I play a huge part in stimulating that response from him. And it might be related to my need for perfectionism. I tend to see the empty half of the glass.

I might project my need for perfectionism onto himself. When he is sharing some things I say yes, ok, but what about this or that or .... i'm just scared that it's something shallow or even fake and i try to test his deeper understanding ... it's there when he feels that i linger too much on the past (even if the past i'm refering to is two days old ...). For him it's like ok, i've said it, let's move on ... like a guarantee that he will be working on it just because he came to this realisation. i cannot take it so lightly, i need extra reassurance that he does feel it, he has means of staying aware, he has mechanisms in place to counteract ... this is where he gets really angry ... and becomes very vague ... and accuses me of putting him down....maybe he doesnt have all these things in place and he gets uncomfortable ... feels like he cannot prove his intentions as he got caught without a plan ...or he does have a plan but he doesn't want me to know it because then i will be able to assess for myself all the times he fails ... or maybe he is just all over the place, still not having a structured way of dealing with anything but strongly believing that it will come to him one way or the other as long as he has these small realisations, he feels he is progressing (which might then make all this fighting an essential condition to his progress as it is mostly in this troubled times that he is able to see his own mistakes ... by being forced to see them and not by being proactive). Whatever the reason, he has never ever come to me to tell me about a goal and present a plan and then let me observe how he implements it. He told me he doesn't need a therapist ... that he might become a therapist himself. I still don't know how to react to this. I understand and salute the fact that he feels he is a specialist at his own issues (probably he refers more to the addiction) and it makes me feel a bit of relief but at the same time I am scared that he has a very limited perspective on what things he needs to change in his life and where his real issues lie ...

Bottomline is ... I have my own issues that I need to work on. For a long time I've been feeling that it's dangerous for me to listen to him or to ever allow myself to believe anything coming from him. It became quite a compulsive reaction. I live in this double reality in which he is at the same time acting out and not acting out, he is sincere and he is lying about everything. Not being able to tell the reality i need to keep both perspectives simultaneously but I've also become split and i cannot reconcile these two within myself. It has a huge impact on all interaction between us, especially on how we communicate. I do not know any other way of dealing with this except detachment and I'm well on my way with it. Through detachment I hope I will gain that higher wisdom of being supportive and encouraging. When there is nothing in there for me to lose or to gain I could maybe reboot all these traumaic responses that Dday activated within me.

Whereas for him, maybe he will grow and realise his own shortcomings or maybe he will just brush them off and keep himself busy thinking he is doing more than ok ... I hope a day will come when I will be able to raise above all this and point things out in a very gentle way, one that leaves no room for negative interpretations about my perceptions and my intentions and my own faults.

It surely helps to have a deeper understanding of these emotions and mechanisms. I thank you all for taking the time to clarify these concepts.

_________________
"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:36 am 
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Thank you for this excellent thread. It is heartbreaking the scars we carry from our early childhood trauma, and how we are not even aware of most of them. I know that both my husband and I were punished by our parents for making mistakes, being the victim of another's aggression, being vulnerable, having needs. Whew. No wonder we have issues. I would hope that my husband and I could feel solidarity and compassion and provide healing to each other, but at this point, we are not able to. The power of those messages: I am bad; I am not lovable; I am not worthy; I am hopeless.

This inability to be human, to be flawed, to make mistakes...it's killing of the soul in ourselves and destroys our ability to connect to other human beings. And, tragically, it is that human connection that would heal us.

Is it any wonder that some of us develop addictions to soothe ourselves? Is it any surprise that under those addictions is a profound intimacy disorder? Can a person truly risk being vulnerable? What if you do get the benefit of love and connection? What will happen if you lose that? Better not to have it than lose it.

But, I firmly believe the glass is half full. I believe we can heal, get healthy, recover, find intimacy and learn to accept and love ourselves. It's not easy; it takes time and hard work. It takes working here at RN, finding good therapists, and most importnatly, having the firm commitment to change. A wonderful real life exists that CAN be attained IF we are committed to getting it. I am a partner and my challenge is to heal. I KNOW I will heal given enough time and help and belief in myself. It will be slower than I like and harder than I want, but so worth it. Now my husband, he could recover and get healthy IF he is truly, deeply, sincerely committed to recovery. I recognize the challenges he faces given his all or nothing thinking, the glass if half full thinking, the need for immediate gratification, the ingrained dishonesty he has towards himself, the newness of understanding his emotions.... But, he too, with time and work, can create a healthy, fulfilling, life based in reality.

Wishing us all strength, clarity and peace.

dnell


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