People with addictive behaviors often have trouble with openness and honesty. Even when they do tell the truth, they may omit important facts. John used to go to the store for “milk,” but on the way he’d buy a couple cases of beer to hide in the car trunk.

Addiction necessitates not only lying to others, but also lying to oneself. How many times have you said “my problem really isn’t that bad. I don’t (fill in the blank). I can control it. I only use on weekends (passing out on Saturday night is just as much as problem as on Wednesday night), nobody knows because I don’t use when my family, friends, children can see me (they know), I can concentrate better when I’m high, stoned or drunk (it only seems that way), I’m sexier when I’m drunk or high?” (Neither drunkenness nor impotence is sexy).

Recovery requires complete disclosure. Total honesty without omission of facts is essential for recovery. Keeping a diary or written record of your thinking errors is recommended for progress. If you stop practicing your addiction, but continue lying openly, giving half truths by omitting important facts, twisting and distorting your story, and excusing your addictive behavior, you may be staying free from your addiction temporarily, but you aren’t yet in recovery. Getting honest with yourself and others is essential for you to move on with your life and to put your addiction behind you.

In addition to being honest, you must learn to become receptive to other people. You must be willing to consider other people’s viewpoints, and give up your viewpoint of being superior of others, and above learning from others. I don’t expect you to take in everything uncritically, but it’s important to listen and consider new viewpoints. New ideas and feedback needs to be retained and implemented, not just listened to. You must be willing to accept information about yourself without taking the victim stance or becoming angry.

You also need to become self-critical and work on changing the things you don’t like about yourself. Previously, you may have taken either a victim or victor stance, making everything in your life a contest that you either win or lose. Part of recovery is learning to examine your thinking and behavior, and be willing to change.

Here are some exercises that may be helpful to you in learning to be open and receptive:

Monitor each of the above and keep a daily journal of your thinking.

Ask others close to you to help you by giving you feedback on your behavior. Thank them. Don’t discuss or argue about their comments. Pay attention and try to make changes.

Be critical of yourself. Spend some time nightly recording things you have done during the day. Monitor each of the above in your thought monitoring each week.

Learn from others. Get directions or ask for information.

Ask others close to you to help you by giving you feedback on your behavior. Thank them. Don’t discuss, argue, act angry, or sulk about their comments. Pay attention and try to make changes.

Be critical of yourself. Spend some time nightly recording thoughts and behaviors you have done during the day that you need to change. Also record how you have done well, including positive behaviors and thinking you have experienced.

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