How to Overcome Addiction, Shame and Guilt

Feb 13, 2020

I did a Facebook Live on how to overcome addiction, shame, and guilt based on a teaching by Dr. Caroline Leaf.  

So many people, if not all of us, are addicted to something.  There is some habit or stronghold that we struggle with. It could be food, social media,  gaming or a very damaging addiction such as alcohol, drugs, pornography and things like this.  Addiction is defined as being consumed with something.  So what is it that consumes you?

Addictions happen when we try to avoid or suppress hurts or trauma.  We don't want to deal with the hurts, so we keep doing things that we think will help us feel better.  However, the addictions we develop by trying to ignore our hurts can be worse than the trauma we went through. If I could encourage you to do anything, it would be to deal with your issues.   

Why is dealing with our hurts, abuse, and addictions so difficult?  Because when we avoid, suppress and use substances, the goal is to numb ourselves to the negative, hurtful emotions.  We don't want to feel anxious, traumatized, alone, betrayed, ashamed, or any other negative emotions.    However, when you decide to deal with your hurts, you have to go through the feelings that you felt.

The good news is that the latest research shows that 85% of people get out of addictions through choice once they start working on the issues they are avoiding and trying to bury. 

Dr. Caroline Leaf introduces us to Dr. Adi Jaffe who is nationally recognized as an expert on mental health, addiction, relationships, and shame. 

There are somethings I would disagree with Dr. Adi about, but I love his approach to helping people heal.  It is unique, life-giving and has been shown to work.  

Here are 3 steps to overcoming addiction, shame and guilt.

1.  Deal with "you" as a person.  

Psalm 139 tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Get to know you and how God created you.  God gave you your own personality, DNA, gift mix, a purpose for why you were created and so many other amazing things that makeup you.  What are your strengths and weaknesses?  What makes you unique and special?  Learn to love and accept who you are.  You are awesome!!

2.  Start where you are.

I love what Dr. Adi Jeffe has to say about this.  You don't have to want to quit the addiction to want to start to change, you just need a desire for your life to get better.  I remember Joyce Meyer sharing her story on wanting to stop the addiction of smoking.  She never wanted to stop smoking, but she knew for her health and ministry, she needed to. She shared that she would be smoking and declaring, "I hate smoking".  Start where you are and work on making a better life for yourself.  Stop beating yourself up and condemning yourself and start moving forward and loving yourself and your life.

3.  Deal with the root of your addiction.  

How do you do that?   James 5:16 in the Bible has the answer.

"Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another and then pray for one another to be instantly healed,  for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!"

Tell somebody. Talk to somebody.

It may be a counselor, a pastor, a life coach or a life-giving, emotionally healthy friend.  

You need somebody who will ask you questions to help you get to the root of what you are feeling and what you are avoiding.  A great resource that has helped me to feel what I am feeling and also taught me how to ask great questions was a book called "How We Love.

You need to find somebody who won't label you your addiction or condemn you for where you are but will listen, ask questions and resource you to help you deal with the root of your addiction.

Dr. Caroline Leaf has designed an app called SWITCH, which is a great tool for helping people deal with their issues and overcome addictive thought patterns and behaviors through the mental process of reconceptualization.  

Of course, when it comes to overcoming addiction, it is so important to remember that change is a given.  As Dr. Jaffe notes, it’s not that you can’t or won’t change, because you are changing all the time, but you can either choose to take charge of what that change will look like, or let it happen haphazardly and allow the world to dictate what those changes will be. 

You can take control of your life; you got this!

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