Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Drug of Self-Trust

“You just gotta trust in yourself,” I overheard him say.

This message feels so right. It puts me in charge and hands me the steering-wheel. I’m in the driver’s seat, the captain of my own ship. I call the shots. No one can tell me where or how to navigate my vessel.

It’s a win-win. I win and can’t possibly loose! No hidden costs from what I can tell. I’m lifted up, exhilarated. My feet are off the ground. What feels so right can’t be wrong.

But it’s the appealing fruit that the serpent gave to Eve, and then Eve passed on to Adam. Just one taste will make me the creator, at least of my own life. But who could read the small print? Who would even try? Which captain would surrender his ship? And which creator would willingly step down? It’s just too intoxicating. Perhaps no longer intoxicating, but addictive – a drug I can’t jettison without dire psychological consequences.

No one tells you that trusting in yourself becomes an intolerable burden, a ship that requires constant maintenance, a diet that needs constant defense, an image that demands total upkeep, a front that depends on daily paint-jobs. It’s a hot-air balloon that’s always calling for more hot air, compliments, affirmations, reassurances and successes.

Self-trust became a monster that must be fed with the foods of attainment and recognition, or else it turns against you and consumes the host. It’s so tempting to believe that I’m a morally superior person. At first, it’s a drug high, but that high becomes increasingly elusive. This illicit trust demands positive feedback and denies the negative. It’s always got to be right and has lost the ability to receive correction.

Self-trust declares war against conscience and refuses to listen to anything that might contradict its line. Instead, it proclaims, “I am fine the way I am. I don’t need to change. I am a good and deserving person,” as friends quietly slip away and I’m left to struggle against conflicting inner voices.

Reality becomes a deadly enemy. Constructive criticism is a vicious personal assault. After all, they contradicts every distortion that self-trust is built on.

Self-trust demands payments in the form of rationalizations, excuses, and down-right denials. While it builds an impregnable edifice against truth, it keeps me within these walls – captive to obsessive introspection and negative comparisons, always looking for the next fix. It pays me dividends in the form of anxiety, self-consciousness and depression.

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
(Romans 7:24-25)

I think I’d rather trust in God, who accepts me as I am, so I can accept myself.

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