Identity and Addiction

identity1

In my recovery groups we have been talking about the lies we believe that lead us to and keep us in our addictions. These are the same lies that most of us believe from time to time.  Although they don’t lead us all to addiction we can see the exact same pattern of destruction in all of us.

This morning I have been thinking about how our identity directs the course of our lives. The way we identify ourselves leads us toward or away from healthy choices, and our addictive and or compulsive behaviors.  It also occurred to me that our identity is not always consistent.

Let me explain. A friend of mine is a marathon runner.  She is not only built like a runner and trains like a runner, but she thinks like a runner.  Because she identifies herself as a runner there are certain things she will do and other things she will not do.  For example, most mornings she will go for a jog before work.   For lunch she will often eat some green leafy thing that doesn’t look all that appetizing to me.  She rarely eats sweets and never drinks coal.  All of these choices are directed by a single force, her identity.

Someone who is trying to maintain an image of a tough guy will make different choices. He will say and do certain things to sustain this tough guy identity.  Conversely, there will be things he will never do.  This guy wouldn’t be caught dead at a day spa having his nails done.  You will never find this guy crying over a particularly sad movie.  Why?  Because it goes against the way he identifies himself.

The challenge comes when two worlds collide. What happens when a person who previously identified himself with the drug and criminal lifestyle suddenly decides to get clean?  Let’s say this guy goes through recovery and is making some real progress.  He is minimizing his exposure to triggers and is using the tools he has learned to help him work through the challenges of life.  When he gets out of prison he is right back at his mother’s house, the place he grew up, and the center of his previous life of drugs and crime.  All goes well until a few of his old friends stop by.  Suddenly the new man is confronted with his old self.  Who is he going to be in front of his old friends?

Are we ever tempted to be one way in front of some people and another in front of others? This is a problem with identity.  In recovery and at meetings he may act one way and when he is with his old friends he may act another.  The truth is not that he is necessarily putting on a show.  He may just be struggling with his identity.

If we desire to live clean and sober lives we need to solidify our identity as clean and sober individuals. When we are secure in our identity we are free to be ourselves 100% of the time.  If you find yourself struggling with this here is a word of encouragement.  It takes time and it takes intentionality.  In other words this isn’t something that will just happen.  We need to work on it.  We need to draw the line in the sand today and say, “I am clean and sober.  This is who I am.”  When temptations come we need to remind ourselves that those choices are not consistent with who I am.  In the same way a runner would not eat ½ of a chocolate cake an hour before his or her run, we would no longer give in to the temptation to return to the drug and criminal lifestyle.  That is simply not who we are any longer.

I’m big on positive affirmations, and positive self talk. Why not choose 10 of these statements from the list below and write them down, or print them off.  Then read through them on a daily basis.  I have this list printed out and hanging up in my office right by my desk.  It only takes a minute or two to read through all 60 statements.  After reading through them I always, always feel better, more confident, and it solidifies my identity as a successful, confident, and powerful person who is at peace with God, myself, and others.

  1. I am a person of immeasurable worth, inner greatness, and have unlimited potential.
  2. I am enjoying life free from the bondage of addiction.
  3. I am increasingly happy and healthy.
  4. I am calm, confident, and in control.
  5. I am deeply loved and I love deeply.
  6. I feel joy and contentment in this moment right now.
  7. I awaken in the morning feeling happy and enthusiastic about life.
  8. I can tap into a wellspring of inner happiness anytime I wish.
  9. By allowing myself to be happy, I inspire others to be happy as well.
  10. I have fun with all of my endeavors, even the most mundane.
  11. I look at the world around me and can’t help but smile and feel joy.
  12. I find joy and pleasure in the simple things in life.
  13. I have an active sense of humor and love to share laughter with others.
  14. My heart is overflowing with joy.
  15. I rest in happiness when I go to sleep, knowing all is well in my world.
  16. I expect to be successful in all of my endeavors. Success is my natural state.
  17. I easily find solutions to challenges and roadblocks and move past them quickly.
  18. Mistakes and setbacks are stepping stones to my success because I learn from them.
  19. Every day in every way, I am becoming more and more successful.
  20. I feel successful with my life right now, even as I work toward future success.
  21. I know exactly what I need to do to achieve success.
  22. I see fear as the fuel for my success and take bold action in spite of fear.
  23. I feel powerful, capable, confident, energetic, and on top of the world.
  24. I am a problem solver. I focus on solutions and always find the best solution.
  25. I love change and easily adjust myself to new situations.
  26. I live in the present and am confident of the future.
  27. I have an intention for success and know it is a reality awaiting my arrival.
  28. I approve of myself and love myself deeply and completely.
  29. I am unique. I feel good about being alive and being me.
  30. I have integrity. I am totally reliable. I do what I say.
  31. I act from a place of personal security.
  32. I fully accept myself and know that I am worthy of great things in life.
  33. I choose to be proud of myself.
  34. I find deep inner peace within myself as I am.
  35. I fill my mind with positive and nourishing thoughts.
  36. Every cell in my body vibrates with energy and health.
  37. I am completely pain free, and my body is full of energy.
  38. I nourish my body with healthy food.
  39. All of my body systems are functioning perfectly.
  40. My body is healing, and I feel better and better every day.
  41. I enjoy exercising my body and strengthening my muscles.
  42. My world is a peaceful, loving, and joy-filled place to live.
  43. I sow the seeds of peace wherever I go.
  44. I surround myself with peaceful people.
  45. My work environment is calm and peaceful.
  46. I breath in peace, I breath out chaos and disorder.
  47. My home is a peaceful sanctuary where I feel safe and happy.
  48. In all that I say and do, I choose peace.
  49. I release past anger and hurts and fill myself with serenity and peaceful thoughts.
  50. Peace descends all around me now and always.
  51. Calmness washes over me with every deep breath I take.
  52. Every day I am more and more at ease.
  53. Being calm and relaxed energizes my whole being.
  54. All the muscles in my body are releasing and relaxing.
  55. All negativity and stress are evaporating from my body and my mind.
  56. I breath in relaxation. I breath out stress.
  57. Even when there is chaos around me, I remain calm and centered.
  58. I transcend stress of any kind. I live in peace.
  59. I am free of anxiety, and a calm inner peace fills my mind and body.
  60. All is well in my world. I am calm, happy, and content.
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