Transform your identity as an addict to a leader by changing your story.
Esther is a food addict. She has created a story in her mind, and depending on the circumstances, she repeats to herself one or more of these statements, all created as justifications for her behavior.
I really should take control of my health and stop indulging in sweets, but I simply don’t have self control. I was born that way - ever since I can recall I’ve been addicted to instant gratification. I’m a failure, a shame to my family - why should I even try when I’ve failed time and time again? It tastes too good to stop. What’s the use? I may as well just give up and enjoy it. It’s my mother’s fault that I’m this way. She didn’t give me unconditional love.
Esther’s story is one of deceit and despair. This is the evil inclination, or as I like to refer to it, as the fox – the sly, manipulative bully in us that wants nothing more than to prevent us from growth and fulfillment.
No one purposely chooses to become an addict. Most likely, an addict of some kind has gone through some traumatic emotional experiences that have affected them in a very deep way. The question is – is the story the addict created out of those experiences, helping or hindering him/her from living the life of their dreams? What are they telling themselves that stops them from taking action to becoming the person they were truly born to be?
Three additional vital questions to ask would be: “What needs is the addiction filling? What will show up in their life if they let it go? And what’s the positive intention in holding onto the addiction?” At ones core self, they are a beautiful soul who truly wants to do the right thing and be free from the slavery of addiction. So it’s helpful to discover what’s truly holding one back. Let’s look at an example:
Shalom was sinking deeper and deeper in debt. He felt incompetent for being unable to properly support his family and this deeply affected his feelings of self worth. Yet, because Shalom favors peace above confrontation, he doesn’t want to let his anger and frustration out on his wife for her elaborate spending habits. He therefore resorts to the Internet as a diversion from his feelings of unworthiness, and to maintain peace with his wife. So, his positive intention for holding onto his addiction; is to maintain shalom bayit, peace with his wife.
The main problem with addiction is that while it may meet the addict’s needs and even maintain peace with the significant people in their life for the time being, it’s harmful to their soul and only brings more pain into their life in the long run. How is this so?
It is possible that the addiction itself is an act of rebelling. Consider whether, on the deepest/unconscious level the addict is angry at God for withholding whatever it is he/she needs and doesn’t have. They might subconsciously feel – “If God is withholding love/money etc. from me, it must be He doesn’t believe I’m worthy of it.” And at some level, they may also feel that they don’t deserve that which they most desire. So if they find something that gives them pleasure, they may indulge in that habit – thereby soothing themselves of their feelings of unworthiness.
The problem is that while the addiction once may have provided comfort and pleasure, it usually turns into a great source of pain. For it most often results in an incredible amount of guilt and shame to deal with. So now all this added guilt and shame can increase feelings of unworthiness which leads to further indulging in the addiction, and the destructive cycle continues.
So how does one stop the dangerous cycle of addiction? There are many great resources available including therapy and support groups’ etc. The power of creating a new story is another great tool one can use to empower oneself and ease the pain the addiction has caused; thereby helping them overcome it. This new story should be one of empathy, truth and accountability. The following is an example of how it may sound:
- I didn’t consciously choose to be an addict. I was/am in pain and found a way to comfort myself.
- No one aside from me is responsible for my addiction.
- God is a fair judge. So however strong the evil inclination in me is, the good inclination in me has that same strength.
Because the antithesis of an addict (someone who is out of control) is a leader (someone who is in control), the story one would want to create is to think that “I was born to be a leader!” At the same time a leader’s self control is limited – being that a leader affects many people. Like it says in Shemos 7/3 “And I (God) shall harden Pharaoh’s heart and I shall multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt,” and so king Pharaoh refused the Jews to leave Egypt, until the Egyptians had gone through all ten plagues, for that was God’s will. So when I repent, it’s ok to forgive myself – for the addiction was God’s will.
(In the book “The Garden of Emunah”, Rabbi Shalom Arush writes: “Before making a mistake, a person has apparent free choice not to make the mistake. But after the fact, one must believe that God willed the mistake, a person has no reason to be disappointed, depressed, disheartened, and certainly not self-flagellating or guilt ridden.”)
At this point one might ask, “Why would God want me to have been an addict”? The answer would be because God needs his leaders to be humble so they can empathize and not judge others. And when one has gone through, and overcome something as painful as addiction is, he is now the perfect person to help others who are going through the same thing, for he can truly understand.
Now isn’t that a much more empowering and truthful story?!
Only the addict and God know when they are truly ready to give up their addictions and stop running from the person they were truly born to be. And when they have that moment of truth, some say when you hit rock bottom, they need to learn to become a leader of themselves first – Let Empathy And Drive Encourage Respect. Learn to empathize with themselves and their pain and hold onto the drive and the motivation to completely free themselves from their addiction, thereby encouraging self respect. Once they’ve become a leader in their own right – they are now are ready to become a proper leader for others and embrace the person they were truly born to be.
Leah Field is a life skills coach trained by Refuah Institute,Machon Aluf Binah and RMT Center for Strategic Intervention(Tony Robbins & Cloe Madanes). Leah can be reached at email@example.com