Believe it or not you may have an addiction! But it’s not what your thinking. I am not talking about an addiction to alcohol, drugs or cigarettes.
But many of us are feeding addictions in our lives that have haunted us for years.
In my life, I had an addiction or need for people to recognize and acknowledge my accomplishments. In the end, this led to a serious addiction of people-pleasing. In other words, I was struck with “the disease to please,” and would do things I didn’t want to do just to get people’s approval.
It was unhealthy and killing me from the inside out.
But there are other addictions operating in our lives that many of us do not recognize as well.
When we hold on to limiting beliefs about ourselves, then anger, sadness or guilt will show up to compensate for our lack of self-confidence. We substitute unhealthy emotions for our lack of confidence.
Sadness can be a way of getting others to notice and feel sorry for us. We need this attention to create our self-worth because deep down we don’t believe we deserve to be noticed and supported.
Now there are things we will feel genuinely sad about, but the key here is motivation. Sometimes we do it just to get the attention of others.
Guilt keeps us feeling bad about ourselves and in hiding so that we don’t have to show up for anyone else or their needs. Guilt traps us so that we don’t have to take responsibility or risks just in case they don’t work out.
Anger, sadness and guilt can all be addictive behaviors that we lean on to prevent us from dealing with the real issues in our lives. Like drugs or alcohol, we need these negative emotions to deal with life. It’s so much easier to allow these addictive emotions to take over, than face our troubles head on.
Like it or not these behaviors have a built-in guarantee that prevent us from stepping outside our comfort zone to take the necessary risks to grow spiritually, physically and emotionally. If we don’t deal with these emotions we will end up spiraling into the good old “victim mentality.”
We stop growing in life.
So how do we break these addictions?
The first step is acknowledging our addiction to these emotional patterns in our life.
Another key is recognizing the triggers that cause these emotions to surface. Are we feeling jealous of others? Are we being reminded of past mistakes or times when we felt shame?
It’s the whole onion analogy where we begin peeling back the layers of emotions that are masking the source of the problem and getting to the actual cause. We need to find out why certain things trigger us.
Don’t deny the feelings.
Often these feelings are based on things that happened in the past, even in our childhood and they are bringing attention to areas of our lives that need healing.
If it involves people then forgive those who hurt you. It is an important step in releasing these emotional bondages to God.
This verse out of the Gospel of John has become a favorite of mine, because it reflects God’s desire to set us free:
“10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)
The heart of God is that we have joy even in the difficult and harsh circumstances of life. It is joy that stems from knowing our value to God. The thief is the negative emotional addictions that rob us of our joy.
The road to wholeness is a journey so be patient with yourself. These changes don’t take place over night.
As we forgive others and even ourselves, we are able to move through these negative feelings and find faith, peace and even joy that will stabilize us as life comes at us with its twists and turns.