When a person suffers a wounding through social trauma or by some another means more or less challenging, in an effort to protect the wounded-self they will often “bend” reality in order to make it more palatable. In other words, like favoring an ankle that was sprained or another body part that was hurt through some injurious event, we will coddle and comfort our brain. This coddling can and does involve many kinds of emotional placebos that act as an emotional salve to our wounded souls. I certainly do not want to disparage these keen and cunning tools, but I most clearly would like to identify and define them—it’s only fair. After their definition we can make better choices about our continued involvement with them.
The way we favor our circumstance or the emotions created by them, is to inevitably invent an alternative world-view that allows us to cope with the realities that work against our potential worthiness and our authentic-self. One of the ways we do this is to measure ourselves down rather than measure ourselves up in relationship to everyone around us. We measure ourselves against others like a ruler. It’s an automatic behavioral positioning that allows for a sense of being without challenging the self or identifying the weak link responsible for the flaw within our emotional framework. It’s simply a way to cope with a poor or mistaken belief in ourselves and get away with it. Excuses are clever brain ploys created to sustain and justify beliefs about ourselves.
This downward positioning whether associated with personal relationships, workplace relationships, religious relationships or anywhere we find people, leads not only to performance-based living, but it also leads to a need to quit trying—to easily give up where we would normally try harder. Because we lower our expectations on the self, some of us won’t make an effort to take calculated-risks or endeavor to explore new options when faced with normal difficulty. Not only is this a slippery slope, but it’s also an exceedingly steep one that points in the direction we would never choose to go if we saw things differently.
This process of positioning one’s self lower can easily develop into a chronic lifestyle of measuring down among our peers. When we live down to mediocrity or even the status quo rather than living up to more exceptional ideals worth taking risks for, we lessen our chances of reaching our full potential. This process is a bottomless pit of performance that plays out in what I call the Eros prison. There are no winners in this prison, only losers and those too weak to escape its shame and torment—its familiarity no longer unwittingly breeds contempt, it demands it.
If we engage this lower mindset, we may quit going to school or quit believing we are worthy of a raise at work. We may quit a long-term relationship or quit pursuing a meaningful one. We can also live an exaggerated life where we exaggerate outcomes for better affect in order to solicit a positive reaction from those on the listening end. This process of giving up and emotional exaggeration is birthed through the wounded-self in all of us.
The wounded-self can also invent a preemptive need to strike ourselves before others strike us—a kill or be killed state of affairs. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to low self-worth brought on by believing the lies we create in our low self-esteem laboratories. When we don’t measure up to the overextended images that we create for ourselves because of our distorted view of the self through the wounded-self and project wrong assumptions born out of this distorted view on others (by believing people are thinking we should be capable of more than we are), it’s not only easier to measure down to our inaccurate expectations of self, but also we will measure down to false ideas we imagine others are thinking. For more on this subject as it relates to religion and politics, check out my book The Freedom of Being.