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Low Self Esteem and Insecurity in Alcoholics: How to Avoid Being Someone’s Doormat

It’s taken me a long time to learn that newly sober addicts deal with some of the deepest insecurity issues known to man. On the outside, they may have everything: a good job, family, cars, and a house. However, when I interact with them, the conversation devolves into an unwinnable game of one-upmanship.

Below are ways to determine if you’re dealing such a character and ways to handle them.


I used to get hooked on these games like they were personally attacking me and my status. I took them to mean that I had to strenuously explain my own worth or else I’d lose the battle and possibly a friendship if I didn’t measure up.

But it’s taken many years to realize that they’re sick people. Their thinking is so warped that they believe they need to prove they’re “better” than the very people who are humble enough to try to help them.

The belief that life is one big competition is the most insidious and destructive method of relations I’ve come across, and alcoholics take the ideology to unfathomable extremes. Their lives start to revolve about how they can use people to get ahead, what material goods will make them stand out, and how they can position themselves to a higher status in the professional arena.

It is exhausting to watch these types, let alone have a genuine conversation with them.

How to Spot an Overly Competive Energy Drain

The extreme competitiveness boils down to insecurity

These types basically never feel ok with their self-worth. They’ve attached their worth to externals. Even in casual conversation, they’re measuring me up in light of my worth in relation to the acquisition of the externals.

I find they make me feel less worthy. I feel drained after talking with them, rather than energized. They usually toss cold water on any new plans or ventures I’m undertaking because they can’t stand for someone else to garner success.

The feeling of energy being drained, or your having to argue a personal decision in light of their understanding of self-worth, is a good indication you’re dealing with a deeply insecure alcoholic. The more time you spend with them, the less worthy you feel as a person.

With enough interactions like this, I start avoiding the person. They’re not someone I want to devote my headspace to because the relationship isn’t one where we’re mutually building each other up.

Comments that show one-upmanship

There is a theme of common remarks that the insecure fall back on. They revolve around breaking down any good news from your life.

If you start a workout plan that is moderate after a long time off, they’ll rebut that it’s not strenuous enough or include enough weight training. If you’re starting a new business venture, they’ll offer an endless stream of reasons why it’ll fail. When you mention the place you live, they’ll suggest the neighborhood isn’t classy enough or popular enough.

In other words, there’s no way to mention any highlight of your life without negative feedback.

How It Helps Them Cope

The verbal slights protect the insecure alcoholic by allowing them to direct their attention away from themselves. Their internal measuring sticks are a way to validate who they are and where they fit in the world.

I’ve noticed that they rarely enjoy spending time alone or in solo activities. Meditation is painful for them. When an activity forces them to spend time looking at themselves, they avoid it like the plague.

The problem is that their style of communication forces other people away. They have a hard time building true relationships, so the result is more time alone.

Protecting Yourself

There’s no reason you have to put up with the abuse from these types. When you spend time with them, you’re subjecting yourself to verbal onslaught with no benefits.

I understand that their style of communication is a coping mechanism that they may not even be aware of themselves. However, I have found that it’s a waste of effort to remain polite and push through until they come around. I’ve found that it takes these types of peoples a lot of pain and loneliness before they question their interpersonal style, if at all.

It is absolutely misery to frame every relation in terms of how much “better” you are than the other fellow. There’s no way to achieve an authentic relationship this way. There’s always a yardstick that you and the other person measure up against.

True Friends Don’t Try to Bring You Down

I look to building relationships with people who see me as an equal. These folks don’t constantly to level me down to a smaller size.

The idea is that we’re mutually building each other up in our lives. I can congratulate them on their success and not feel envy, and I hope they can extend the same feeling. It is more adult to engage in this way, but often more difficult.

Real friends accept where ever the other is in life. They don’t try to push the other down, or leave when there’s a rough patch, i.e. “fair-weather friend.” Both parties have to display a willingness to let the other know that they are okay just as they are.

It has taken me a while to find the qualities in others that attract true friendships. However, at the very least, I’ve determined that I don’t want to feel drained when I’m around friends.

I appreciate any additional ideals but know that all people fall short of them. At the least, I can hope my relationships don’t lead to unnecessary misery. The one who brings competition into every aspect of life adds misery when it’s not needed.


The most exhausting personality type is insecurity that copes through competition. This type displays common ways of communicating and relating to others that you can keep watch for and try to avoid.

Real friends can be found with effort. It has benefitted me to seek them out rather than waste emotional energy with someone who is cold and unable to change their outlook that life is a ruthless competition.

I’ve concluded that I shouldn’t waste my attention and hours on people who desperately need to examine themselves and learn a new way to relate to their fellow man.

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