The first of the 5 D’s of addiction is Deception. Deception describes the lies we believe that lead us to and keep us in our addictions. The truth is we all believe lies. These lies are sometimes called, “Negative Core Beliefs.” It can’t be overstated how dangerous it is to believe these lies. The lies we believe can have an absolutely devastating effect on our emotions and can lead us to or keep us in our addictions, ruin our marriages, and destroy relationships. It is so important we discover and combat the lies we believe.
Earlier we discussed the fact that out of our beliefs come our emotions and out of our emotions come our actions. When we look at the equation in reverse we can follow our emotions back to the beliefs that caused them. By discovering our negative, or lie based beliefs we can begin work on healthier thinking leading to healthier emotions and actions. One way to identify our lie based, or negative core beliefs is to discover the way we internalize things. Internalization is the beliefs about ourselves based on the things we experience in life.
How we internalize both the negative and positive things we experience in life, directly affects the way we interact with people in every relationship. This means that the way we internalize things affects our marriages and families. It effects our relationships at school, work, and in the community. It affects the way we treat everyone from the gas station attendant to the police. It affects the way we feel about people we see every day and people we may only meet once.
Perceptions, Emotions, and Internalization
To discover how we internalize things we must first understand our perceptions and emotions. When negative things are said, or done to us, and when we go through a negative experience we have certain perceptions, we respond emotionally, and often internalize the event in some way.
Let’s look at this simple example. Suppose you called a good friend or family member on the phone and invited them out to lunch on the following day. Your friend or family member replied in a harsh tone, “You know I don’t have time for that!” What would your perception of your friend or family members comment be?
Your perception could be one of many things. You might simply think that they are busy and don’t have time. You might think perhaps they are having a bad day. It is important to note that our perception may or may not be right and true. We might perceive a person’s harsh response to our simple question as a personal dislike for us. The truth may be that the person is just having a real hard day. On the other hand we might think they are just having a hard day when in fact they really don’t much care for us. The point I’m trying to make here is this, our perceptions are not always accurate.
When bad things are said or done to us our perception might be one of the following statements.
They think I’m an idiot.
They think I’m not good enough.
They think I’m worthless.
They think I’m garbage.
They don’t respect me.
They don’t obey me.
They don’t listen to me.
They don’t understand that my way is best.
They are trying to control me.
I deserved that.
I had it coming to me.
I should be better so this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.
How we feel about what was said or done depends on our perception. Let’s go back to the example of a loved one being rude on the phone. How would that make you feel? If your perception was that he or she was just having a bad day and it was nothing personal you would probably feel OK. If your perception was that they really do think you are pretty stupid for even asking such a question knowing that they are so busy you might feel a bit angry or upset.
Some of the emotions we might feel are:
Anger: Raise my voice, Punch something, Throw something, Swear, Put the person down, Flee the situation in rage.
Anxiety (have Fear or Worry): Fear the worst, What if this is the end? What if I can’t make it through this? What if I die? What if they never come back? What if they think less of me? What if I fail? What if they don’t respect me? What if they laugh at me?
Depressed: Things are never going to change. It will never end. It will always be this way. It is absolutely hopeless.
This is the area where we can really get ourselves into trouble. When trying to discover how we are internalizing something it is helpful to ask ourselves a couple of questions. Ask yourself, “How did what he said or did make me feel about myself?” Another question you can ask is this, “By what he said or did he was basically saying what about me?” This will help us discover how we have internalized what was said or done. Here are some examples of how we sometimes internalize things people have said or done to us.
I have no value.
I’m a piece of garbage.
I’m out of control.
If I’m not in control I can’t have peace.
I’m too polluted to be any good.
I’m so dirty after what I have done or what has been done to me that I don’t deserve anything good. I’m ruined, stained, and defiled.
So why are these so dangerous and what’s the answer to all of this? As stated previously, out of our beliefs come our emotions, and out of our emotions come our actions.
If you believe you are worthless you are likely to feel angry or depressed. If you are feeling angry or depressed you are more likely to turn toward an unhealthy pursuit of love, joy, and peace such as addiction and compulsive behaviors. You are also more likely to mistreat others. That is why these negative core, and lie based beliefs are so dangerous.
In recovery we must learn to replace the lies we believe with the truth. Jesus said that the truth will set you free.
My prayer is that if you are reading these words you won’t be put off by my use of God and the Bible. Here’s why. I’m not talking about the God of Judgmental Christians who say you are going to hell because you use drugs. I’m not talking about some fairy tale, or some old outdated book that has no relevance for today. I’m talking about the Creator of all things. I’m talking about the message of the cross that is foolishness to so many but to me is the very power of God to free me from addiction, compulsive behaviors, and sin habits. I’m talking about the God of all grace who looked down on me in all my fears and failures, and when the whole world sees me for the terrible things I have done God sees me through the eyes of grace and for the man He is molding me into. It is the God of grace and mercy, the God of power and renewed purpose for our lives of whom I speak!
The truth is you were created for God’s pleasure and for His unique purpose. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together,” (Colossians 1:16-17 ESV). You were created by God and for His pleasure and purpose!
The truth is God thought so highly of you that even before you knew Him God knew a relationship with you was worth giving His life for. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him,” (John 3:16-17 ESV).
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed,” (1 Peter 2:24 ESV). A relationship with you was worth God giving His life for!
The lies we believe lead us to and keep us in our addictions. The truth brings freedom! Let’s focus on and celebrate the truth.