And Is Being Self-Obsessed Harming Your Mental Health?

Over the years, I’ve met many alcoholics who suffer from being self-obsessed, myself included. Some people are painfully aware that they are self-obsessed, and some have no idea. Personally, I know I’m self-obsessed, or in recovery from self-obsession. But, that’s in part because I’ve had sponsors and therapists who were happy to point it out. Not to hurt me, but to enlighten me and help me find solutions. Why? Because being self-obsessed sucks. For me, anyway. It distracts me from my purpose, passion, and higher self. It takes away my perspective and often causes me to say or do things I regret. The point is, after a couple of decades of self-improvement, when a sober sister tells me that I seem unhappy and really stuck in myself, I can hear that today. Believe it or not, I even thanked her and felt grateful. Often when something is wrong, I know it, and I know what to do. But, I sometimes need the push of Good Orderly Direction to get into motion.

How To Stop The Self Obsession

First, I think it’s important to clarify that the self-obsession I have stems from anxiety, mild depression, and alcoholism. This is not toxic narcissism (I know I’ve been diagnosed by professionals), this is not a personality disorder–this is untreated alcoholism mixed with a mild anxiety disorder and circumstantial depression. When I recently shared with this sober friend how “wretched” I felt and all the reasons why she looked at me and said, “You’re totally stuck in yourself and need to get back into self-improvement work and service.” There was no question in my mind that she was correct and I woke up relieved the next morning because I had taken action to rectify the situation.

What did I do?

I Asked Someone For Help

I’m in recovery support groups but through the pandemic and moving, I’ve had some shake-ups in that department. This past weekend, I committed to a new group and a new mentor. I’m also going to do the recovery writing work that helped me get sober the first time, and whatever else my new “guide” recommends. I am willing. It’s the gift of experience. Asking for help is a tip that is also in my book because asking for help is the first step to changing anything.

Be Of Service

Also in my book for a reason. Want to really get out of your own way? Be there for people who desperately need help. There is nothing purer and better for your spiritual development than serving people. The type doesn’t even matter. There’s service to recovery groups (I do multiple groups), there’s service to people (I help kids get school supplies, food, and gifts for the holidays, it all keeps me going), there’s service to kids (I donate to kids in foster care), there’s service to animals (I have a rescue dog), there’s service to elderly people (Meals On Wheels – I’ve done it). Just find something and do it.

Learn To Understand Other People’s Feelings And Points Of View

One of the things I struggle most with is my closest interpersonal relationships. Mostly because I’m a recovering alcoholic and have some emotional issues. I’m so quick to feel hurt, jealous, or like someone will let me down. Sometimes, I need to step back and remember what other people are going through and how my actions are going to affect them. Sometimes we have more power than we think we do and half the battle is learning how to use that power. Pause when agitated. Sometimes when I say the first thing that comes into my head I make a big mistake.

Get A Reality Check

I used to see a wonderful therapist and many of our conversations included a reality check. Is what I’m feeling correct? Am I overreacting? Am I making up stories about things that haven’t happened? I had a sponsor who would say to me, “How much of what you just told me do you know is true?” It stopped me in my tracks the first few times. I didn’t even realize when I was younger that I made up stories in my head about what was happening with other people. Do you know what you are thinking is fact? Do you have a safe person you can talk to about it when you’re struggling? Two necessary questions to answer as soon as possible.

Journal About It

If nothing else, write about it and see if you feel better from putting pen to paper. Or, if anything looks different to you now that it’s in black and white. Explore your feelings, explore how other people may be feeling (without making up stories), and explore what your goals or what a good outcome might be for the situation.

More than anything else, give yourself a break. I know how thinking can get you twisted and it’s not your fault. But, there are tools that can help and it’s worth using them.

Check out my book 100
Tips For Growing Up

100 tips for growing up woman reading in bathtub

Take this test from Psychology Today to see if you engage in any self-sabotaging behavior.

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Lindsey Glass

Lindsey Glass is the co-founder of Reach Out Recovery. Her 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World Of Recovery, has helped to lift the stigma from addiction and recovery and is used in recovery programs nationwide to show what life is like on the other side of addiction. Lindsey's teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, was distributed to PBS stations nationwide by American Public Television in 2014-15. Lindsey has written dozens of popular articles on recovery. She is a recovery advocate and frequent keynote speaker. Lindsey is the author of 100 Tips for Growing Up, My 20 Years of Recovery, 2019. Before focusing on recovery, Lindsey was a TV and screenwriter. She has worked in publishing, web development, and marketing.

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