By Dr. Marta Adelsman
Verde Valley AZ (September 7, 2012) – Wouldn’t you know that, almost immediately after I had chosen the topic for this article, I became entangled in my own drama. Since I had lots to do on that day, I asked my husband to walk our dog, Bella. He also had much to accomplish, so he declined my request. As I grabbed Bella’s leash and left the house, I felt resentful and “huffy.
As I walked, I observed the martyr complex that created a storm in my emotions. The ego’s pride manifested in a “poor me” attitude. This theme, and that of “Why does this always happen to me?” run throughout my life. I liken this dramatic fixation to an addiction.
In the presence of thoughts that lead to emotional intensity (fear, anger, jealousy, guilt, etc.), the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream. As with substances like alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, these chemicals create an addiction in the body. Drama can be called an addiction when, like dependence on substances or sex or exercise, it’s nearly impossible to control the behaviors that define it. The behaviors can solidify into roles, as in the martyr role I describe here.
The ego plays many dramatic roles. You may recognize some from this short and incomplete list:
The Commander in Chief role insists on being right. It becomes easily angered as it makes others wrong, and it likes to have the last word in the arguments that it creates.
The Victim blames others and holds grudges, and its emotional fixation often shows up as resentment.
The Rescuer role keeps others weak by maintaining a persona of strength. This covers up personal insecurity and an I-don’t-count-as-much-as-others mentality.
The Drama Queen (or King) creates dramatic upheaval around situations, circumstances, or others’ behavior. This egoic game depends on the resulting chaos and confusion to secure its role and to keep itself in place.
I’m grateful that the kind of theater I entered into around walking Bella doesn’t happen very often any more. However, some remnants of addiction obviously still remain. I could feel the sick pleasure the ego clung to in the emotional experience. The resistance to exiting the stage show felt like quicksand that delighted to suck me in further.
In order to walk off the stage, it’s important to stop self-judgment about the drama. To do so empowers freedom of choice. From there, one can more easily take responsibility for the roles the ego enacts. So I stopped berating myself for having the upset.
In this scenario, I knew that to tell on the ego would stop the drama. I could put it on audio, thus exposing it by openly speaking how it had lured me into a role. When I told Steve that I had allowed myself to become entrapped by my old tendency to make myself a martyr, I took responsibility for my actions. I also decreased the ego’s hold on my emotional state.
Shining the light of consciousness awareness on the ego and its mental games leaves it with only one option: to slink away and find a new hiding place.
Dr. Marta supports the alleviation of egoic suffering in others through her Life Coach practice. To contact her, write email@example.com or call 928-451-9482.