Rewards and Highs

It seems paradoxical that after having been (relatively) successfully in achieving an ‘Ego-References’ which results in the emotional ‘high’ of ‘feeling good about oneself’ there is a craving for a further ‘reward’ of some kind. However, it’s understandable if you realize that actually ‘nothing concrete’ has happened. Maybe a short approval, but nothing major that would justify the huge attempt to achieve the Ego-Reference, no compliment, pet on the shoulder, proof of being accepted happens because the fulfilling aspect of ‘getting a Substitute Sense of Self’ by experiencing a ‘feel-good-about-Self is fictional. So after the efforts and focus on this fictional goal there is a gap, a ‘nothingness’ that lies in front of the person as an abyss. ‘What is next’, seems to be the question. “I don’t have another vehicle at hand right away to go for another Ego-Reference, besides I feel good about myself right now because ‘I did it!’. I need to celebrate. This High has to go ‘higher’ now. I can’t just let it go to waste and disappear. There may be no acknowledgment from the external world but I have to celebrate!” So there needs to be a reward as an acknowledgment for all that effort that has been done.

It’s true that here is some sense of accomplishment that is also experienced subconsciously and that is satisfying. But at the end of this journey climbing uphill to the Substitute Sense of Self there lays ‘nothing but a descending curve’ again. The person with a Substitute Sense of Self-oriented psycho-emotional system, who lacks a healthy Sense of Self, experiences the undertaking of this journey as absolutely necessary – a life or death matter. Yet a successful outcome is paradoxically not satisfying. Only going ‘higher’ is an option. So what happens is that the ecstatic feeling, the (Substitute Sense of Self-oriented) thrill is protected as if it were a matter of life and death. Woo to whom consciously or unconsciously is the cause of the person’s ‘High or Reward’ is being thwarted. Rage and anger, violence can be the result. If nothing happens to let the person tumble down from her ecstasy she will take care of that herself by endlessly trying to prolong the feeling of High or the Reward: the situation is already artificial and becomes more vulnerable to interruption or exaggeration as it is extended.

In other words, even when you’ve gotten the inner or outer approval, and the resulting brief relief from the agonizing and terrifying inner ‘black hole’ of a lack of healthy Sense of Self, it’s never ‘enough’  and going back to that exhausting situation of having to start all over is not tempting at all.

More subtly, you’re ‘on a roll’ and since there is not full satisfaction, you feel like keeping going. There is a craving to extend the tension of the effort to achieve the Substitute Sense of Self into a reward that does have a real presence as opposed to the fiction of the Substitute Sense of Self.

This being on a roll and lack of full satisfaction comes into the conscious experience often as an absolute hankering for some sort of a ‘High’ and after that another one, and another one. That can be (and often is) in the form of alcohol-derived ‘buzz.’

It could be drugs if you are used to those. It can be an exciting movie or a party, or just ‘not wanting to go to bed yet’. Even that ‘high’ is jittery, not fully and deeply satisfying and don’t forget to be aware now that this person is not leading ‘her own life’ at this moment. She actually isn’t really present at all but just hosting a pattern of behavior.

In my case I would crash there and then. I would become violently mad about something that would come my way, or even the thought of something coming my way that would thwart this High would be enough to make me explode in rage. Then I would be so terribly sad that “I screwed ‘it’ up”. I would then proceed in ‘making up’ for my behavior (only to get back a little of my credit, not really for other people’s sake of course). Then I would ‘not sleep’ and the next day be so miserable and feel dirty. After a while that would level out and I would start my mountain climbing over again (Castle of Enmeshment)

The presence of these craving indicate Substitute Sense of Self-oriented activity but even if you are somehow aware of that (having enough awareness of how your patterns are) it is hard, though, to turn things back when feeling so ‘hyper’. There is a strong denial operating of ‘not wanting to go back’ to the normal state of ‘working-your-way-up to realize an Ego-Reference’. This state is comparable with ‘the grey area’ that life looks like for a sober alcoholic.

Is any of this familiar to you? Can you look within your self deeply enough to find these feelings, in this pattern, operating in you?

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