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Doc@DrIrene.com

Comments for Ego Vs. Self

Comments for Ego Vs. Self

Material posted here is intended for educational purposes only, and must not be considered a substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.

Courtesy of Dr. Irene Matiatos   Copyrightę 2000. The material on this website may be distributed freely for non-commercial or educational purposes provided that author credit is given. For commercial distribution, please contact the author at Doc@drirene.com
 

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

I love this! It makes a lot of sense and applies to both myself and my bf. Not only that, but it manages to fit in completely with my religious beliefs, which are not mainstream. I am going to try to make time to communicate with myself. Thanks! -SatokoGirl 

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

Yes, my body heard what my mind refused to. No longer did I have that iron stomach that allowed me to eat anything. The muscles in my neck never relaxed. And the antibiotics didn't cure the chronic sinus infection. Other than broken bones and stitches as a child, and having 2 children, every other visit to the doctor was a health visit. My self knew what was right for me. I refused to hear the whispers......

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

YES! a big comment. How has Gina confused this issue? I am much in the same boat as her. I know that when I am stressed in any way, i am completely unable to react in a healthy way until I've sat with myself and let it all sink in. I can't explain the process, but somehow the answers usually come out of the murky depths of my solitude. I feel refreshed, invigorated, and ready to take on the world again.

I have been accused ALL MY LIFE of being selfish, snobbish, too quiet, too shy, too self-involved, and mostly recently by my husband, "so f***ing self-sufficient" that there's no room for anyone else in my life.

On the contrary, I have many friends. And with the help of therapy and medication, I overcame the crippling shyness and alienation I always felt because I wasn't the American-style extroverted-ness that we all so value.

I think a further explanation of "licking one's wounds" is needed. I've been hurt by couple's therapists recently who encouraged me to be more and more vulnerable to an emotionally abusive husband. Because they just didn't realize how emotionally abusive he could be when he sensed I was down. Ugh... 

I know I haven't been there through the therapy with Gina, and maybe I'm missing a lot of the subtleties. But, hey, I'm a writing teacher, too, and I expect some semblance of reality to be reflected through words. I hope I've gotten the right idea here, or at least am adding something valuable.

--J    J, You're not missing anything. I forgot to paste the last part of the text and finish editing it. Anyway, it's complete now. Sorry.  Dr. Ditz 

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

Hmm. So - how would Gina take care of the self? Ditto above.

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

The "Ego vs Self " section is great. But please tell us more about Gina and Greg. I'm not seeing how they illustrate "let integrity be your guide"? Ditto above.

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

Great article! Much needed! I'd even like more about the difference between them, such as, how can we recognize it's the ego talking to us in certain typical situations... We are so ignorant about the self and listening to the self! B.

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

Very good point about the ego and the self. But for recovering victims ... How can one tell the difference (in someone else) between legitimate withdrawal to protect self and listen to the inner voice, and withdrawal as a means of covert abuse? Doesn't matter what's up with other. All you care about is what's up with you. Are you hurting?

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

Ok, so lets say that Gina realizes that what is really bothering her is that something Greg says or does reminds her of the neglectful environment of childhood. What does she do, if not retreat? Tell him about it? Ask him to stop? This has nothing to do with Greg. It is a matter of Gina seeing it and replacing the old way of coping with more effective coping habits.

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

Another question: We are told that Greg is rarely or not very abusive now. How is this scenario affected if Greg has been very abusive to Gina in the past, but has now "seen the light", (thanks of course to Dr. Irene)? Oh, flattery will get you everywhere. But Greg never had an underlying abusive personality style. When he was/is behaviorally abusive, it was because he hasn't yet mastered the requisite assertion skills.

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

I see this relating back to Dr. Irene's writing on the anger of the victim and how easy it is to get stuck in the anger. You bet! Same difference. I think being self-aware is the first step toward differentiating between ego and self. Yes. However, I'd like to learn more about next steps. Just listening to that inner voice doesn't seem to be enough for me. How do I teach myself not only to think differently, but also to feel differently? On an intellectual basis, I can see what I'm doing and know that's it's not good. But how do I own that emotionally? You're asking way more than I can generically answer. I suggest reading a few books on codependency, boundaries, spirituality and assertion skills and/or entering therapy.

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

Maybe making a pros and cons list would help. What's good about the relationship? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Taking time-outs for each other from the relationship is helpful too. Maybe a 90 day break from each other would give each other time away from the situation. ?

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

This is a VERY timely article for me as I am in the process of trying to decide should I stay or should I go after years (20) of a verbally abusive situation. Then this book was written for you: , Too Good To Leave; Too Bad To Stay: A Step-by-step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship. I find it difficult to tell if I have backed off from him because my inner self has had enough or is it because I am angry and still trying to make sense of the recent (within 1 year of therapy) discovery that not only was I neglected as I child but I was in a verbally abusive situation. 

It was so bad that I do not remember some of the "incidents" but know they occurred when a "trigger" of some kind-a piece of music that was popular during that time-say, causes me to feel that" hole-in-the-heart" anguish. I often felt that way but didn't know why and sought therapy to determine what was wrong with me. The shock of learning to face this situation has been overwhelming and although I feel I've made progress and my husband is promising me the world (of course), and is in therapy currently, I feel like I don't want to get that close at this time and I don't know if that feeling will ever change....

I have filed for divorce and I'm torn because I have 2 small children (I don't want them growing up with this behaviour). Only you can answer that question, but first you have some work to do: Learn to deal with your hubby, and put your feelings in perspective. You remind me of a client who is just finishing up. After filing for divorce and about a year of therapy, she understood that she really cared about her husband. He made significant changes under her pressure to change and his great love for her . They're working it out now. :)  It almost seems like I'm staying because my ego would be bruised if I left, but I can't tell for sure.. I have begun to show signs of immune system trouble. Within weeks of filing for divorce and having things come to a head, I developed something called nummular eczema on my hands and feet. My physician said "We don't know what causes this" I told him I had a pretty good idea what did. Can you recommend some good books on how to be able to listen better. The only one I've read so far is "The Gift of Fear" Thanks again... Barbie  Barbie, take a look at the Book Shelf. See if anything "grabs" you. Or search amazon.com, or go visit your local bookstore... I'm not sure what book to prescribe for you. I certain do advise you to get some more therapy...

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2000

S1

Hi all.

Just wanted to add something that has been helpful in my experience.

When my husband and I were interacting healthily and one of us needed to get away because the anger level was too high, we would say something like "I'm starting to get frustrated, I need to take some time out, but we'll talk about this later". As long as we made the commitment to taking that time later to deal with it, the retreat was helpful. This is wonderful because you give each other a clear signal, and you do it with assurance vs. anger.

What hasn't worked has been hanging up the phone angrily, walking away when one of us is displeased with the other etc. - when the retreat actually feels like an attack. I can distinguish this easily because there is no commitment to working out the problem later. Moving away angrily feels like an attack because it is an attack!

There is a big difference. The first way feels respectful and nurturing, the second feels downright awful. AK Thanks!

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, September 01, 2000

S1

And how will Gina behave when she learns what really is bothering her..? Well, only Gina will be able to answer that. I suspect she will tolerate her irrational fear of closeness, will ultimately feel safer in her skin, and have less need to push anybody away. 

B1: Submit
Date: Friday, September 01, 2000

S1

I am reading a great book called "Guilt is the Teacher, Love is the Lesson". It talks about the ego, our masks and the true self, and guides the reader to discovering the self - the deepest consciousness.

Have a blessed day, Suzanne Sounds great Suzanne - I just ordered it. Thanks.

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, September 04, 2000

S1

Question for Dr. I - You say, "Greg never had an underlying abusive personality style. When he was/is behaviorally abusive, it was because he hasn't yet mastered the requisite assertion skills."

I'm not sure I get that. Do you mean that the "abusive personality" is someone who is motivated to get control over someone (in other words, s in Evan's Reality I) and the "behaviorally abusive person" is someone who doesn't necessarily want control, but when he/she has buttons pushed just uses whatever verbal weapons he/she has at hand to communicate that they are angry, hurt, etc.?

I have too many problems with Evan's conceptualization of the abusive personality to use it. By "abusive personality" I mean the individual who tends more towards narcissism (or like) in the relationship relative to the "behaviorally abusive person," who tends more towards dependency than the other.  

So...if someone quacks like a duck, how can you tell it's a duck, or a swan? I guess you'll just have to stick around and see if it turns white.

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, September 05, 2000

S1

I find it interesting that you say "behaviorally abusive." My ex was not controlling from a day to day perspective. He was more out of control, which for a mate can be controlling in itself: can't make plans, rely, trust, etc. But he only allowed "happy" as my only emotion. Anything else brought out the verbal abuse many, many times and physical abuse on several occasions. 

Sick, upset, sad, hurt, angry, anything. As long as I was happy, everything was okay. Didn't matter how calm I talked, whether I used I words, was logical. In fact the more I learned to communicate effectively, the quicker or more abusive he became. Didn't even have to do with him. Once I was upset because I had to spend money getting the car fixed when I already had the car payment and the car insurance and he became angry. It had nothing to do with him; I was very explicit in stating that. We played the He's mad because I'm anything but happy game most of our relationship. 

I have spent most of my life in pain due to my health. I could be in pain, without even realizing it, and have him walk out of a restaurant to sit in the car because my facial expressions showed something that he perceived as anger. He'd ask "what's wrong". I'd say "nothing," not even realizing I hurt. Early on, I followed him out. Then I stayed, pretending it didn't eat me up. And then I learned to let him go and enjoy my meal with the rest of my family. Good! At that point he was usually not in the car when I made it there and I wouldn't see him for a day or two. His loss. Yep.

Last December I was out of town for my job for longer than expected and was elated to be back in town. He was driving me from the airport and his driving scared me and I showed fear only through a sound and was not spoken to for about 2 hours. He was so angry that he had to shut himself up in the bedroom to calm down.

The problem was I lived my life walking on eggshells. And as the children got older, their emotions too affected his mood. Plans were cancelled. Hearts, dreams and goals were broken. I was always on guard. Of course my protectiveness of them was wrong too. But what I learned was that to laugh is also to cry. I got where I couldn't do either, but the last 5 years has made me strong and aware that it was not about me. When I quit obsessing about what I did or said wrong I started recovering and as I set boundaries and got them stomped on I had the courage to finally say no. I now look forward to my holidays, my vacations, and pretty much every day.

Your ex was clearly the abusive personality in your family. If you acted out angrily in response to his provocation, though you give no evidence of such in your email, you would have been "behaviorally abusive."

B1: Submit
Date: Tuesday, September 05, 2000

S1

I am stuck like Gina. Left verbally (sometimes physically) abusive relationship of almost 7 yrs, this year. But, I am hypersensitive, do retreat, lick wounds, turn off, withdraw, & don't know how else to get away from whom (or what) is hurting me. It's like, OUCH, OUCH, OUCH! Gotta get away from the pain. Stop running. But also, don't dwell. Just turned 41, realize I DO what I DO, it's not constructive, BUT DON'T KNOW HOW ELSE TO DEFEND MY SELF BUT RUN AWAY. You don't have to defend yourself at all! There is nothing to defend! This is now hurting a new friendship I have with a pretty nice guy. He says, "Now you're going into you're pity pot." Yep, but, I really don't know how to work out these feelings & thoughts (somewhat obsessive) and the pain from my very recent past is also coming up too. Hope you have some suggestions (I know therapy would be good - don't have insurance, yet have numerous health problems, many emotionally-related) so, perhaps, you may have some suggestions. Thank you-Robin

Yes, therapy would help you. And you might need an antidepressant as well. Or, some St. John's wort as a second-best alternative (since it's not quality and dosage controlled like prescription drugs, has interactions with some other drugs - but it does work). You might also pick up a book that uses a cognitive behavioral approach to help you identify the implicit, irrational thinking that gets you stuck in the pity pot. A good one is Change Your Life Now: Powerful Techniques for Positive Change by Knaus & Ellis. Good luck!

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, September 09, 2000

S1

Very interesting. I, too, had a run-in with a close friend who was experiencing personal problems in her life and blaming them on me. I always had to be "careful" around her, too.

When I tried to talk to her to find out what was going on, she would personally attack me. It was ok for her to get upset about things, but if I ever got upset, I had "emotional problems" and I needed to "get help". 

I am "getting help" and have learned that it's OK for me to "have feelings" and to expect to be able to express them in a healthy way without being attacked. :)

She kept on saying she wanted to talk things out, but we never did, and she wouldn't listen to my side of things. Too much cognitive rigidity...

When I finally drew the line, I lost the friendship. No loss. A loss: Her loss.

Now, that is one of the "red flags" I look for: are all parties free to express their feelings, or is there a double standard. Any sign of a double standard, and I'm outta there!

Thank you, Dr. Irene, for this site. You have helped this codependent a great deal. Yippeee!

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, September 10, 2000

S1

What timing? My relationship is going through one of those "patches" and I can see now that I have been doing what Gina does and, I'm ashamed to say, my ego was enjoying the sense of "control" I felt when I retreated.

Shame, shame, shame. I am still confused about the whole issue....and doubly so because my husband says his self esteem is at it's lowest. This seems to be the case when I am feeling empowered. What about when he says I hurt him but my intentions weren't so Intentions don't really matter after a while... and he demands an apology? Sometimes I feel angry that I am being forced to retreat. Retreat from what? A defensive position? (When there is absolutely no need for defense, unless of course, you're beating yourself up...) Not making much sense am I!!!!  Bec  Oh, Bec, you're making LOTS of sense! Good for you for looking inside and examining your feelings and motives. Keep reading the site. The whole site. And keep posting. And most of all, keep looking inside as honestly as you did now. This is Good stuff!

 

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, September 11, 2000

S1

You said Greg is rarely abusive, yet when I asked our therapist if she thought my husband was abusive to me (I believe that he is, both directly and indirectly) she said it was not important what she thought, did I think he was abusive? Well, yes, that is why for one reason I was there, but apparently I am not secure in my thinking processes that's why role playing or another's opinion is necessary for me. What do you think? And partly because she is unwilling to pass a judgment, my husband holds on to his great guy opinion of himself. I think your therapist is very, very correct. By the way, Greg is the "victim" in this relationship.

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, September 14, 2000

S1

I was thinking that maybe integrity is bringing the ego and the self closer to being one. Interesting...

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2000

S1

This was very important to me. I have dealt with verbal abuse in my relationship by fighting back. As a result, I have deteriorated over a period of time into a mental mess. I am insecure and touchy about everything. I have given my husband so much control over me that he will sometimes 'pretend to be having an affair to torment me but my rational self should tell me this is not so since he spends so much time at home. The point is this man has lied to me so many times and so blatantly with no remorse that when I'm with him I honestly don't know whether I'm coming or going. The final straw that broke down all trust was when I found out he had been on the verge of having an affair with someone with whom I was very close - the day after he denied this and I asked him to keep his distance from her. I don't trust him to tell the truth in the simplest things and not just in matters of fidelity. I think sometimes that it is my fault - I might have gotten so controlling and possessive that he has to lie to me. The first time I came home unexpectedly and he was out till 5am (spent the night out after tellling me he was going to bed a month after we were married), I became so incensed that I broke the furniture and physically attacked him. I am ashamed of this behavior to this day and wish I had acted differentlly. Since then, he has blamed everything on my hot temper. I begin to realize that I have given him this power. It is a two edged sword. In the process I have become controlling, sometimes calling up other women and yelling at them to leave my husband alone. He says I place too much pressure on him. He is right. So then I ask myself - is it all my fault then that all these things happen; surely I can control myself and should be responsible for my reactions. One of our greatest problems is each time I make a suggestion he doesn't like he yells at me, goes off the deep end and curses me. At one point, I would walk away and say we would discuss it later. Sometimes I would even leave the house but after a while I got tired of doing this. When his parents lived with us for ten months, he cussed me out so much in their presence (his parents are also abusive) and I walked away feeling less of a person on each instance. He tells me it's because of the pressure I put on him eg: I would complain that we never go anywhere etc etc. Now I'm thinking it's my fault or maybe we are just not good for each other. I need to find my control - my brother says I need to realize that this relationship is not the be it and end all of my life and wear my heart on my sleeve less often. I know I have lots of problems. My question is: If I walked away each time he shouted or cursed at me without saying a word and also made a decision not to pressure him for family time or anything (the precipitators of these outbursts), then if this still continues, it seems like I would then determine that this situation is not my fault but something he needs to work on and end the relationshiip. The other day we talked with my mother about our problems. He portrayed me as such a basketcase (he may be right) that my mother has insisted I go home for chritmas (home to Africa) because she is appalled at the change in me. I am unsure of myself and him - I have given him too much control over my happiness and my life. What are the first steps to regaining this control? I will be starting counseling soon and I have suggested that he do the same. My self esteem is at an all time low

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2000

S1

Dr. Irene, I am confused, hurt and sad, because I believe I am guilty of over-withdrawing and hurting my boyfriend. He was abusive to me, but when once when after speaking to his sister, things came up and I told her I believed he was cheating via the internet. Then I left the house and went to a relatives, ON A HOLIDAY when his sister and husband were visiting us. He of course, got very angry. Now I see I was wrong. Should I go to counseling with him? He was ordered by the court to go to therapy when he hit me two months ago.

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, July 21, 2001

S1

i am a verbaly abused woman. my name is maya and i have been a victim for far too long. i feel sad and cry reading this story. my pain is so deep that i wonder if i will be healed. the man that has abused me is in total denial. i am just playing his game til i can get out from his financial security. i have been lying to myself for so long about the abuse. iam stepping forward and i filed for divorce!! it is not an easy road to go down. he wants complete control of our three young children. i am scared for my lids and myself. tho this decision to leave him is the best for all of us. i feel quite confident on my choice to leave the realtionship. i feel for all of you who hurt. write me mbp1976@yahoo.com maya

B1: Submit
Date: Wednesday, August 22, 2001

S1

I just want to say this page had just the information I needed to verify that I have finally arrived at a comfort level with the fact that my self is where my soul lives, and violations are no longer allowed. Thanks for this website. Joan

B1: Submit
Date: Thursday, December 27, 2001

S1

B1: Submit
Date: Sunday, June 23, 2002

S1

Excellent article. There is an enormous need for clarification on the difference btw self and ego (hardly anything written on the net). Thank you ! Only, I felt the article touches too many extremely important subjects at the same time, so I'm left wanting to know about each more in detail: how to differentiate btw ego and self in myself, the pity pot, focusing on the positive, self-integrity.

If you can refer me to more sources on the a/m subjects, I'll be really grateful. laurar@bezeqint.net

A question: Are we being inconsiderate and mean if a friend's ego is shattered by our communicating what we think are their hidden motives in a given situation? E.g.: "when you say you usually don't have time to see me, you're actually saying I'm a low priority in your life."

B1: Submit
Date: Monday, July 01, 2002

S1

My goodness! this has helped me so much. So refreshing to read. Thanks so much.

B1: Submit
Date: Saturday, January 25, 2003

S1

You could change Gina's name to be mine. I also had a very abuse family. And I have been with a very verbally and emotional abusive husband for 35 years. I always retreat to be by myself, sometimes I haven't spoken to my husband for months at a time. I moved out for 6 months three years ago, and I moved out again 10 months ago. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on trying to understand, but my husband is not a willing spirit. He thinks that if I could get my head on straight, everything would be fine. He even told me he forgot my birthday a couple of days before my birthday got here and then accused me of always having to be the center of attention when I told him how hurt I was. He didn't even acknowledge Christmas this past year. I have told him I think he is abusive and he tells me that I am too controling. I graduated from college cum laude when I was in my 40's and he wouldn't attend my graduation, so neither did I. Sometimes I wonder which of us is the sicker one. Thanks for listening, Kathy