In this episode, you’ll learn how grandiosity can lead to affairs. If we think we are better than others, we tend to excuse our behavior and make exceptions for ourselves.
You’ll learn what grandiosity is and how it can show up for the betrayed partner as well as the one who betrayed.
You’ll have a clear understanding of how the mindset of grandiosity gets in the way of real transparency, connection and healing and what to to about it.
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I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast,
episode number 114, Grandiosity.
Hello and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently
living, but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hello, my beautiful friends. Welcome to another episode of Heal from
Infidelity. A while ago, a while back, I mentioned in a podcast probably
more than one that I am a big fan of the therapist Terry Real. Terrence
Real is the name that he uses in his books. I have talked about his book Us
in past podcasts and have just loved studying from him. I love him because
he’s all about teaching people how to be relational, how to be in
relationships in healthy ways. Over the past few months, I have been
studying with him in live trainings that are very specific to infidelity,
and I’ve loved every minute and always learned so much from him.
I’m going to continue learning from him as I later this year am going to be
doing a pretty extensive certification with him for therapists and coaches.
Really looking forward to that. But one of the things that I learned from
Terry in particular around infidelity is the concept of grandiosity. I’m
going to give you a little bit of context. You are likely here because you
have experienced a betrayal, and it is very easy when you are the one who
was betrayed to cast the one who betrayed in a villain role, right? To
define them as selfish, mean, narcissistic, whatever.
When we can slow down and look in more depth at what is actually happening
in the world of those who cheat, it can help us to heal because we can see
more objectively what needs to change within them for us to feel
comfortable staying with the person that cheated and the specific behaviors
that led them there in the first place. Grandiosity is a symptom of someone
who cheats for a lot of people. It’s a way of thinking about yourself in
relation to others, particularly your spouse when it comes to infidelity.
My hope is that you will come away from this episode with information, with
knowledge, and with a better understanding of who you are dealing with, who
you are married to, who is this person.
Better yet, I challenge you to share this episode with your partner if
you’re still together and see if any of it resonates with them. What is
grandiosity? Grandiosity essentially means that you believe that you are
slightly or a lot better than others, that you are superior, better than,
and that you are entitled to different treatment than other people, that
you can break the rules, get away with things that other people cannot get
away with. Some behaviors that come from grandiosity are punishing others
for their less than behaviors and believing they deserved it, indulgent and
sometimes impulsive behaviors because you have a belief that you are above
the regular rules, that they don’t apply to you.
And in the context of this podcast, it can look like breaking the marriage
agreements and making justifications for yourself of why you deserve it.
However, grandiosity is a lie. By nature, we are whole. By nature, we are
equal. We are just as worthwhile as the next, no matter our station in
life. But growing up, we often get our wires crossed. We get false
messaging, false information about what gives us our worth, what makes us
matter, what makes us important. We often learn to operate in a one up or
one down position with other people. A one down position is a shame-based
position. In this position, we just carry this belief all the time that
we’re not quite good enough.
With shame, it feels really bad and we don’t love hanging out there. It
doesn’t feel good. Often to get out of it, we will swing completely other
way to a one up position or a grandiose position, because to just be an
equal with someone can feel threatening. We may need to feel special or
just a little better than others to feel okay. We most likely learned this
in our childhood. It was most likely modeled to us. Our entire sense of how
good we are is based on how we compare to others. It also comes from our
culture. We live in a time that is very individualistic, us against the
world. If somebody doesn’t work for you, cut them. Cut them out.
If they’re toxic, just cut them out. Most of us are not taught how to live
with equals with others and how to learn to not compare as a way to get our
sense of enoughness, and often we will jump back and forth, that one up or
one down. We’re either worse than someone else or we’re better than someone
else. We’ve learned this so much in our society right now. It’s very much
about me, me, me, me. Does this work for me? If it doesn’t, I’m not doing
it. As you can imagine, this is not lend itself well to a healthy,
thriving, equal collaborative marriage. In a healthy marriage, there has to
be a sense of we or us.
In a marriage with grandiosity present, it’s either you and me or me versus
you or the world. There’s no us. There’s no collaboration, because each of
us are playing our rules and sometimes they switch back and forth. One may
feel shame for a mistake they made. And rather than trying to fix the
mistake, they swing the other way to grandiosity thinking that they are
entitled to that bad behavior. Like, yeah, I messed up, but you know what?
I wouldn’t have done it if you this, this, and this and this, right? Why is
grandiosity so easy to fall prey to? One reason is that, according to Terry
Real, grandiosity works in the dark.
It’s underground. He says this, “Most of us are painfully aware of the
disempowering aspects of our childhoods, but we’re fairly blind to the
false empowerment and grandiosity either directly through a parent pumping
us up or indirectly through their modeling grandiose thinking and
behaviors. Leaving the grandiose relational stance behind often means
separating from the early relationships in which the stance was embedded.”
Like he says, most of us don’t even know it’s there. We’re blind. We can’t
see it, and often it was taught to us through our parents, pumping us up or
by watching them model the behavior.
Let’s go back to shame. Shame does not feel good and we want to get out of
it. Often we will go and jump back into the behaviors that created the
shame in the first place, but we’ll get that temporary hit or relief of
doing the behavior, and then later on we deal with the shame and round and
round we go. We keep doing it. Grandiosity, however, can feel really good.
It can feel really good to think that you’re a little bit better than other
people, or to think that you can get away with things that others can’t
because you are more talented, more important, more special, whatever that
may be. It may feel great to break societal rules and get away with it.
It can be a thrill. It can also feel really good to be on your soapbox
thinking you know more than others. They just don’t understand. You may
think that you are smarter or wiser or better in some way. The
self-righteousness that comes right along in the package of grandiosity can
feel extremely validating. To come down from this can feel scary because it
means we have to come to terms with ourselves and who we really are. One
interesting point that Dr. Real teaches about grandiosity is that it
actually stems from contempt. We feel contempt, then we either point it
toward us thinking we are awful, terrible, no good, wrong, et cetera, or we
point it away from us to others with the same judgment.
Isn’t that fascinating? If we’re pointing the finger towards us, it’s going
to create shame. If we are pointing the finger towards someone else, it’s
going to create grandiosity. How does this relate to infidelity? Let’s dive
into that. Many people who engage in infidelity are in a mindset of
grandiosity. They make all kinds of excuses for their behavior. My wife
doesn’t want to be intimate with me. She doesn’t ever want to spend time
with me, so I’m deserving of being with this other person who actually
cares about me and wants to give me what I want. See, look, I’m not a
terrible person. I just want this and my wife’s not willing.
You can see how easy this is to fall into. But sadly, when in this
grandiose state, it is impossible, impossible to see yourself as you really
are, already whole, already good, already worth loving, not needing all of
this validation that might feel so good, but that’s wreaking havoc in your
life. Grandiosity is born from a lack of real self-worth and self-esteem.
It’s actually really sad. Grandiosity is there because you don’t have
enough self-worth inside of you, self-esteem, to not need other people to
tell you how great you are. If you are hanging out with a grandiose
mindset, an affair partner is a very easy choice.
It’s somebody that’s there that often is looking for the same kind of
validation, and they are wanting to pump you up and you are pumping them up
and telling them how wonderful they are. They’re telling you how wonderful
you are. You’re so great. I’m so great. It can just perpetuate the cycle
without ever really developing your own sense of self and your own sense of
esteem. Often to engage in grandiose behavior, one actually has to cut
themselves off from their own moral compass and their true self to justify
the behaviors. It’s pretty tragic. Here is the other side of this coin.
After infidelity, it can become very easy for the person who is betrayed to
take the one up grandiose stance.
I didn’t do that, so I’m a little better than you or a lot better than you.
It can be so easy to feel contempt and disgust. While this is normal at
first because you did experience a betrayal, right? This person suddenly
looks different to you. They are different. They’re not who you thought
they were. They did this thing that you never ever imagined. But while this
is normal at first, if your goal is to heal from infidelity, you got to go
deeper. You have to look deeper inside at what you’re making it all mean.
If you’re making it mean you are less than, you will get stuck in shame. If
you make it mean that he is a loser and you are so much better, you will
get stuck in grandiosity.
There can be no meaning of the minds and hearts here. There’s flip-flopping
between one up and one down. The cycle will continue until either the
marriage ends or one person decides to break the pattern, or both. How is
the cycle of grandiosity broken? In the words of Terry Real, I love this,
the weak stand and the mighty melt. The one down stands and the one up
melts, comes down to earth. They’re both on equal footing. Being able to
break free from grandiosity requires the ability to see another, to have
empathy for them. After infidelity, the grandiose person has to step down,
while not dropping into shame, which is another self-absorbed way of being.
If you’re in shame, it’s still all about you. You still can’t be empathetic
and really see another person when you are lost, drowning in shame.
Stepping down from grandiosity in a healthy way means learning how to
validate yourself and develop a real sense of self-esteem. It means not
continuing in the never ending comparisons that either make us a little
better or a little worse than others. I want to offer a few questions to
consider for anyone listening who may want to share this with their spouse
or may be second grandiosity themselves. Number one, it’s a decision. Do
you want to keep propping up your ego to feel better, to avoid, or do you
want something deeper?
While you may feel completely justified in your stance, is it getting you
what you want? Is it actually creating connection or division? Number two,
what do you feel entitled to and why? Where do you think that came from? If
you believe you have been wronged in your marriage, you may think that you
are owed special treatment from another, physical intimacy, a certain kind
of kindness, whatever it is. But here’s the big question, did you ever go
to your spouse and tell them exactly what you want and ask for it? Or was
it more passive-aggressively and not direct? Have you ever really boldly
stated the things that you want more of in your marriage?
My guess is probably not. And if so, not very directly and maybe in ways
that are actually calendar productive, like being passive-aggressive.
Number three, is there something or someone you feel more loyal to than
yourself? Sometimes we act puffed up, self-righteous, high and mighty, et
cetera, because we are consciously or subconsciously defending someone
else. It may be that we are defending the behaviors we learned as a child
from our father, and to actually admit that their behavior hurt us is
vulnerable and painful because it means then we have to actually deal with
our own wounds.
We have to look at our own pain often caused at the hand of these people
that we’re trying to puff up, these people that we’re trying to put on a
pedestal. It’s often easier to become the very people that we learned
grandiosity from. This can be the case in organizations as well. If you’re
in an organization that thinks that they know way more than everyone else,
that they’re slightly or a lot better than other people, and it is taught
at an institutional level, it is very easy to justify the kind of behavior
that I just know more than you. I’m smarter. I’m wiser. I’ve got it more
figured out. Therefore, I am allowed more privilege.
I can have more. The problem is that we aren’t really doing the deep
thought work around what we want, what is right for us, and we’re hiding
behind others to protect ourselves. We’re giving our loyalty to someone or
something else because it actually helps us to avoid looking deeper at
ourselves and what we want and what we’re subscribing to. In many cases,
healing from grandiose behaviors can actually feel like a betrayal, like
you are stepping away intentionally from someone or something that mattered
to you, and stepping away from the things that they taught that were
harmful to step more fully into who you are and who you want to be.
It can feel very scary and very vulnerable. Essentially, stepping down from
the grandiose perch, pedestal requires humility. I may be wrong. She or he
may be right about this. There may be more than one way to see this. I want
to understand his or her stance, where they’re coming from more, even if
it’s really painful and challenges my ego. Oh, that’s hard. It’s hard. This
is not for wimps. It’s not for wimps, but it is for people who want the
real good stuff in relationships, depth connection, deep intimacy.
The absolute biggest remedy to grandiosity is growing your sense of self,
who you actually are, beyond the labels, beyond your mistakes, beyond all
of it, beyond your looks, beyond your weight, beyond any of it. The more
you grow your own sense of self, you grow your ability to stay totally
grounded without having to puff up or having to shrink. I challenge you, my
dear listeners, to see the areas in your life where you may be acting in a
grandiose way. What are you hiding behind? What is underneath that? Come
out. Come out.
Allow yourself to be seen and teach yourself that it’s safe to be on a
level playing field with other people, and that there’s beauty and goodness
and so much strength there. All right, my beautiful friends, I love you.
Thank you for listening, and I will talk to you again very soon. All right,
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast. If you would
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