I’ve lived long enough and crashed and burned just often enough to understand that each of us has an inner drive of some sort. A need that pushes us and shapes us, our lives and relationships.
Doubt it? Go to a gathering of people and observe.
Here’s an example from a past social event repeated more than a time or two. Two very strong women engaged in a subtle competition. Bathed in faux sweetness though it was, it was indeed a serious competition. The recipients of the goodies and grand gestures were unaware of the power struggle, for the most part. The body language, the quick intakes of breath, the slightly flared nostrils, the empty smiles all spoke of an underlying agenda for the key players though. For the innocent bystanders, it was just a fun party full of great goodies and good times. But for the ladies, the unspoken one-ups-womanship made the party a whole lot of emotional work. And when they retreated to their separate corners insecurity and bitterness likely flared when they compared themselves to the other, dissected their shortcomings, planned for the next event, and picked apart the competition’s offerings.
Where did that competition come from, and why did it manifest in over-the-top out-doing?
I believe we are all internally flawed. Some more so than others, and some it’s more obvious. The majority of us are functionally flawed, with quirks and bents, and “you know how she is” labels. But these folks are usually loving accepted if the person is approachable, or warily accepted if the person tends to steamroller those in his or her path. The really, really needy ones tend to burn bridges and take hostages or embrace their unhealthy needs and chase them into dark places.
Our needs aren’t necessarily birthed from our parents’ failure to meet our basic needs, though there could be part of that in the equation. We are all so unique. What one person survived with parents may have been another’s undoing. Siblings or lack, money or lack, school issues, imperfections, differences, successes...all of these go into the blender of who we are, and what we need. And money, the perfect career, the right schooling, the perfect mate and even God/Jesus and the Holy Spirit living within us isn’t necessarily the instant healing/filling of that need. We need to recognize that we’ve got the quirk first. Then we can go about taking care of it.
I think the major drives that push us are combinations of the need to matter and the need for love, and each of those needs sparks strong emotions like fear, insecurity, anger, jealousy. Each of these can manifest in clinging, indifference, competition and then the really unhealthy 1st and 2nd cousins that lead people to the darker neighborhoods of dysfunction.
The ladies in my example really mean well. And they are generous. But they both have issues they think are long healed that seem to drive them to invest in frantic behavior that looks great on the surface but probably steals their joy. These ladies are put together, polished, but insecure in their own worth, so they have to prove their worth to everyone, make themselves indispensable, experts, the go-to gals. .
My flawed inner drive is peace-seeking, oh, and people pleasing…great combo, isn't it?
In my personal experiences with those drives, the insecurity that surfaces, the desire to make everything look and feel good for all concerned has certainly made me miserable a time or two. Insecurity makes me feel anxious, and I can't help but take a failure personally because my sense of worth and my lovability as a human being is somehow, in my mind, on the line.
Awareness of my drives, acceptance that i'm going to screw things up on a regular basis, and that my worth as a person has nothing to do with what I accomplish is the beginning of loosening the bonds of the pedal-to-the-metal lead-foot drive to be all I imagine I'm supposed to be. My worth has everything to do with my character, integrity, and the unique path and fingerprint of God on my life and my willingness to follow and listen to Him as that path unfolds. .
What is your quirk of crazy-making? Noting it is the first step to breaking it's control over your life.