It is sunny
I walk on the pavement
to the rhythm of my dance
oh, the joy of my movement!
All these other humans
passing by, on the sidelines
can they see the joy?
how does it affect them?
My joints slow down
as I enter the room
an face you all
a curtain of silence
onto my heart
I am holding back
the true me
that I know you will not hold
in the same high regard
but to what extent do I exist
confined in the prison of my mind
the joy of my dance is real but brief
a brief journey, from warm to cold safety
I look at the top-left corner of my computer screen. It is the only bit that I can see as the water cup takes the centre of my vision. It is Sunday and I feel tired: this week was emotionally tiring.
On Monday evening, CC returned from a festival. I went to pick her up at the train station. I did not tell her, it was a surprise. I was inspired by someone I met last February at the Scottish men’s residential. He told me that one of his wife’s love languages is to pick up others. So he developed the same habit to make her feel loved how she likes. It worked: CC had a big smile on her face.
At the festival CC participated in a guided psilocybin trip. As research into the use of psychedelics to improve mental health continues, with trials around the world progressing to more advanced phases, we both developed curiosity towards psychedelics, their therapeutic potential and what they can reveal about the experience of being human.
After the journey CC seemed quite emotional. She has been integrating and processing new insights. We had many conversations: some soft, some intense. She also had emotionally charged chats with one of our friends which I helped mediate.
During our conversations, CC pushed me to see things through her eyes and explained that she felt I was communicating with her from a place of arrogance. I don’t know if I would have had the motivation to be as inquisitive without her intensity. Observing carefully, I saw how I defend myself by hiding away and seeking comforting superiority.
As days went by, I started looking into this and I discovered both a deep fear that what I do doesn’t matter and a deep desire to be special, incredible, gifted and superior. A deep fear of meaninglessness and desire for affirmation.
I felt an imbalance between the roles I enact in society and the internal authority and competence that I feel inside. I feel like I haven’t translated that internal authority, balance and wisdom out into the external world around me. And I am not quite sure how to do it.
I noticed in me an emotional sense of superiority and arrogance. Importantly, I noticed how this emotional superiority prevents me from connecting, engaging and embracing other people and other experiences. It tells me that when I experience discomfort it is because others are wrong, worse or limited.
We do not fall asleep, we create the conditions for falling asleep. Likewise, creating the conditions to enjoy life, embrace others, seeing the goodness in others, treasuring and making the most of what’s present and available to me, probably requires letting go of this emotional superiority, or some part of it.
I also experienced distress about making professional and life decisions (see my post on overcoming purpose anxiety) and I think there is a connection between these two. Emotional superiority asks food to sustain itself. It incentivises perfectionism and seeking ideal options and outcomes. It incentivises control beyond what’s possible and reasonable. In turn, this puts pressure on my decisions and generates stress and resistance towards committing to realistically limited options and possibilities. So, this emotional superiority may also hinder letting myself do what I need or like.
All in all, this mechanism feels isolating. It makes it harder for me to empathise with others and communicate kindly. It makes it harder for me to join and commit to any group. It is a barrier between me and the world. I can see how it impedes me to connect on social media and in professional settings. It is so isolating.
I wonder how this relates to aspects of comparison and competition. It is like having an obsession with my social status and constantly imagining and wanting it to be higher than what it is.
But, how do I know that all of this is true? I guess I don’t, not fully. I observe that these reflections release tension and open me up more to the world and to what I experience. Still, some of my behaviours and attitudes feel so ingrained that it is difficult to not take them as a given.
Maybe superiority is just an interpretation or a label that I use to point towards a defensive barrier that stops me from engaging with reality and other people and keeps my imagination intact and in isolation. Maybe it is a fear of how limited, messy, inconclusive I am and can be.
I observe how these reflections create spaciousness between the emotions I perceive about my status and what I actually do. Like meditation, introspection allows me to see how certain combinations of beliefs, emotions and actions lead me to experiences that I want to stop perpetrating, reinforcing and incentivising.
There is frequent talk of inferiority complexes and impostor syndrome, but I haven’t come across many reflections on superiority complexes. I understand that it may be difficult thos feeling superior to come out of the closet, and at the same time hearing it may be triggering for people that have a tendency of feeling inferior.
It may feel unreasonable that someone would complain about how much better than others they feel, but actually it is something that can cause isolation and sadness. It is important to reflect about how we see ourselves in relation to others and develop an awareness of how it may affect us.
As I let this emotional superiority go, I return to others with more openness.