During my recovery reading I came across the following quote, and I want to share my personal reflection on these words from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:
“When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Were we kind and loving toward all?”
In the margin beside this quote I wrote: “…and if not, why not?: I don’t think it is enough to admit I was not kind and loving to everyone in a given day. If I really want to grow emotionally and spiritually I need to try and understand why I wasn’t kind and loving to everyone.
Recently I was at a pub with some coworkers and as the evening drew to a close and I was getting ready to step out the door, I made a rude comment to a guy in my department. He was talking about the university he earned his MBA from, and at the time I felt like he was bragging a bit and ‘rubbing our faces in it’…So of course I felt it was my responsibility to help him check his ego. I said something like, “You know, that’s actually a really big public school. Lots of people have gone there. It’s not really a big deal.” What a thing to say! This poor guy was proud of his hard work and education, and I felt within my rights to take him down a peg or two.
As I thought about my behavior later that night I asked myself why I behaved that way. It wasn’t enough that I admit I wronged the guy; I knew that as soon as the words were out of my mouth. To avoid making that same mistake in the future I needed to know what made me say such a thing.
Was I jealous of him? Almost certainly: I tried to get into the same MBA program myself but I wasn’t accepted and had to settle for a 2nd tier MBA program. I’ve always wondered what my life would’ve been like if I’d graduated from the same program this guy did.
Was I upset that he was stealing my limelight? Probably. I love being the center of attention and it irked me that he was ‘stealing my thunder’ and I was getting ready to go. I felt like people would see him as smarter, more talented, and more likely to succeed than me. My super-competitive ego couldn’t stand the possibility of people seeing this guy as ‘better’ than me, so I had to say something to bring him down to my level.
By asking myself why I wasn’t kind and loving to this individual I reminded myself that I am still a fundamentally selfish, narcissistic, jealous, insecure person. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, but it does mean I need to have strong boundaries to protect myself and others from my character defects. It also means I need strong Step 10 habits to ensure that I make quick and complete amends when I inevitably harm others with these defects.