Healing the Scars of Addiction
By Gregory Jantz
I find it virtually impossible to engage in a discussion of shame, blame and guilt without a corresponding look at the role of core beliefs. Core beliefs are what people hold as truth. Core beliefs revolve around how you feel about yourself and others, as well as how you interpret the world you live in. As such, core beliefs provide the filter to determine how shame, blame and guilt are internalized, strengthening either addiction or recovery.
POWER AND CONTROL
Addiction promises to enhance the very things it will ultimately take away. Others may believe they have no power—unable to control anything. When an addiction comes and overwhelms them, the shame they feel at their own “weakness” is familiar and only strengthened by the addiction. They tend to accept complete and total blame because they have always considered themselves responsible—bad things happen because they are bad.
Dependent love happens when you become dependent on other people to provide you with value and worth. Those with food addictions can speak of their addiction almost like a relationship, as if it is a friend or someone who provides proven comfort. Addiction jealously beckons you to love it above all others, including yourself.
APPROVAL FROM OTHERS
Some people operate under an assumption that the only valid source of approval is someone else. They have been taught that approving of themselves is somehow tainted and must be corroborated to be legitimate. As such, they make decisions and act not as they believe they should but as they believe others think they should.
SUCCESS AND ACHIEVEMENT
This is a belief that you are only what you currently produce. Success and achievement must be an ongoing effort, you must not rest on past accomplishments. Your only value comes from what you are doing today and what you will do tomorrow. Failures, setbacks and reversals are unacceptable. The problem with this worldview is that life is full of failures, setbacks and reversals—so is recovery. Addiction either makes you feel like a success or shields you from feeling like a failure.
Perfectionists walk an incredibly narrow road. With perfectionism, there is no standing down. Perfectionism is both exhausting and unattainable. Addiction can promise a form of momentary relief from the unrelenting anxiety of trying to be perfect. Addiction promises to shield you temporarily from the fear that you are, sadly and tragically, like everyone else—flawed, imperfect, unworthy.
Angela grew up in a household where nothing she did was right. She knew who she would “never amount to anything [and] couldn’t “do anything right to save [her] life,”. Addiction strips away self-esteem. This can be particularly damaging when you started out with little or none in the first place, as Angela did.
A person who is unable to trust others has nowhere to go to work through issues of shame, blame and guilt. When the person engaged in addiction is the only person to hold the addiction accountable, failure is assured. When people trust and share experiences, feelings, thoughts and impressions, they discover they are not alone. More importantly, they discover they don’t need to be.
Excerpted from Healing the Scars of Addictions by Gregory Jantz. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2018. Used by permission. BakerPublishingGroup.com