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Archive for the ‘12 Steps’ Category


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God is interested in us being forthright—not in us being piously pretentious. God loathes hypocrisy—just like most of us do. He definitely understands adversity though, having experienced it through the suffering of His Son. This means God can and does empathize with each of us. This makes Him fully capable of meeting us exactly where we are, regardless of our situation, despite the level of our dysfunction. As difficult as it may seem to believe, He loves each of us exactly the way we are.

Recognizing this, while also coming to terms with it, is why I wrote Conquering Negative Self-Talk. It’s for wounded, hurting people—people just like you and me. It’s for those who believe they have very little to offer. It’s for people who have been crushed—for those who have had life knock the wind out of their sails. It’s for people who are in pain—for those who desire to reach out to God but lack the necessary words to express their deepest heartaches, apprehensions, and misgivings. Actually, this self-help workbook can benefit just about anybody, but it is especially useful for alcoholics, drug addicts, and codependents. So, if you are looking for something that will improve your life—a resource that will point you to God in the midst of crushing circumstances, when your self-worth is virtually non-existent, Conquering Negative Self-Talk is definitely for you.

 

 

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The self-worth of alcoholics and addicts is very low, even if their outward behavior appears to be confident, self-assured, and upbeat. This is an illusion. Their lives are filled with guilt, shame, self-loathing, and self-condemnation. Some choose to blame others for their lot in life, doing their best to excuse themselves from being responsible for unacceptable behavior, but this doesn’t work well. Blaming others rarely does, and it certainly isn’t emotionally healthy.

Many live in denial, refusing to admit who they really are and what they have become. They desperately try to convince others their situation is not as bad as it is, going to extraordinary lengths to do so—often comparing themselves favorably to someone who is far worse off than they are. Somehow, this makes them feel better about themselves—at least for a while. They do this, even when the destruction from their lifestyle is obvious to everyone around them, especially to those who refuse to take their delusional thinking at face value.

Whether people trapped by their addictions are willing to admit it or not, their self-talk is nearly always negative. Even if it doesn’t appear to be this way outwardly, negativity reigns in their hearts, regularly informing them they have no worth. Believing they are of no value is a constant theme for alcoholics, drug addicts, and codependents—it’s never far from their minds. They routinely accept self-condemning disaffirmations as being accurate, whether self-imposed or from others.

Addictions are destructive, especially to a person’s body, but physical health isn’t all that is destroyed. Inwardly, because addictions wound a person’s soul, the damage can be even more extensive. Addictions empower negativity, feeding low self-esteem. They disaffirm a person’s self-worth constantly, making meaningful recovery virtually impossible.
In their minds, alcoholics, addicts, and codependents repeatedly tell themselves:

—I’m no good.
—I hate myself.
—Nobody cares about me.
—I have no value.
—Life has no meaning.
—I don’t want to go on like this.

Wounded people repeat these messages in their mind regularly. Such destructive thinking, which addictive people firmly believe to be accurate—regardless of what they say outwardly—makes it more difficult for them to break free from their enslaving lifestyles.

An addict’s only freedom from negativity comes while he or she is using. Booze and drugs make addicts feel okay—even if it’s just for a short period. It’s why they use. It’s their way to escape the realities of life. It’s also why they gravitate to the seamier side of life, where their dysfunction is accepted as normal. Sometimes, it is even be championed.

When an alcoholic or addict’s standard “fix” stops working, they use more, believing this will do the trick, which it does for a while. Then, it doesn’t. Finally, fixes stop working altogether and never work again.

This leaves alcoholics and users in a desperate situation. This is when their lives spin out of control, and their behavior reflects it. Despite the negative consequences of their actions, the addict is powerless to stop drinking or drugging. They have become ruled and enslaved by their addiction or cross-addictions. They need help, and Conquering Negative Self-Talk can help provide it.

 

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CONQUERING NEGATIVE SELF-TALK—with a THROWBACK THURSDAY photo:

Life can be very difficult, especially for someone who is using. That addicted people need God’s help is obvious, or at least it should be. Nearly everybody who has been in recovery for any length of time acknowledges this. Living life on life’s terms can be tough for anybody, but especially for those trapped by their addictions. For these people, adversity can become overwhelming and debilitating. Their coping skills simply do not allow them to deal with life’s problems in an effective way.

Instead of accepting the responsibility for their actions, they make the choice to use—to act out. By not dealing with their problems appropriately, they create additional problems. This isn’t what they want, but it is what happens. As a result, family dysfunction and work related difficulties inevitably follow, creating a vicious, destructive cycle that affects people’s lives adversely.
Unable to cope with stress and difficulties in healthy ways, millions medicate their problems with alcohol, drugs, excessive prescriptions, inappropriate sexual relationships, over-eating, over-spending, and numerous other addictive vices. As they see it, it’s their only solution, their only alternative, and their only way out of intolerable situations.

Drinking and drugging provide these people with an unhealthy way to cope with life—a one-day reprieve from facing their troubles. It’s a quick fix that works for the moment, but in the long run, it creates far more problems than it solves. Those who choose to pursue this path cease to live lives that are meaningful. Instead, they simply exist from one day to the next, and the destructiveness of their behavior creates dysfunction for everyone who loves them. It also makes healthy people codependent by the millions—an unintended but predictable consequence.

The self-worth of alcoholics and addicts is very low, even if their outward behavior appears to be confident, self-assured, and upbeat. This is an illusion. Their lives are filled with guilt, shame, self-loathing, and self-condemnation. Some choose to blame others for their lot in life, doing their best to excuse themselves from being responsible for unacceptable behavior, but this doesn’t work well. Blaming others rarely does, and it certainly isn’t emotionally healthy.
Many live in denial, refusing to admit who they really are and what they have become. They desperately try to convince others their situation is not as bad as it is, going to extraordinary lengths to do so—often comparing themselves favorably to someone who is far worse off than they are. Somehow, this makes them feel better about themselves—at least for a while. They do this, even when the destruction from their lifestyle is obvious to everyone around them, especially to those who refuse to take their delusional thinking at face value.

Whether people trapped by their addictions are willing to admit it or not, their self-talk is nearly always negative. Even if it doesn’t appear to be this way outwardly, negativity reigns in their hearts, regularly informing them they have no worth. Believing they are of no value is a constant theme for alcoholics, drug addicts, and codependents—it’s never far from their minds. They routinely accept self-condemning disaffirmations as being accurate, whether self-imposed or from others.

 

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MY PRAYER: Father,

I’ve wanted relationships and possessions

That You have not intended for me to have.

I have wanted them so badly that

I’ve come before You repeatedly—

Pleading, begging, whining, and carping—

Beseeching You to grant my desires.

But all You have done is say, “No.”

Refusing to accept Your answer as final,

I have continued my relentless badgering,

Insisting that You make my will be Your own.

In my willfulness and stubbornness, I maintained

That right was wrong, and wrong was right,

While deceiving myself into actually believing

My purposes were noble, honorable, and altruistic.

In my foolishness, I have done my best

To convince myself that my way has been righteous,

But You remained unmoved, refusing to acquiesce.

Still unwilling to accept Your will over my own,

I manipulated events until frustration

And exhaustion finally overwhelmed me,

But You never budged or wavered in Your decision.

 

Now, at the end of all my peevish fretting,

I bow my knee and accept Your decision.

“No” it is, and “No” it shall be forevermore.

There are still parts of me that regret this,

But You are Almighty God, and I am not.

Now that I have resubmitted myself

To Your leadership, rather than to my own,

I have begun to view my situation differently.

No longer reluctant to be submissive, I acknowledge

That Your way is superior to my own,

Which I should have done from the beginning,

Amen.

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MY PRAYER: Father,

Nothing is how I planned it to be,

As I thought it would be,

As I believed it was promised by You.

Perhaps my aspirations were nothing more

Than my own self-serving, wishful thinking,

But the despair from my failure is real.

Nothing could be more real

Than how brokenhearted I am,

Knowing that my life didn’t have

To unfold the way that it has.

 

As a youth, when I turned my life,

My will, my heart, and my purpose

Over to You for Your safekeeping,

I believed I would experience nothing but abundance,

Carefree living, and smooth sailing, but this

Has certainly not been my experience—not even close.

It seems like I have failed at each turn,

With everything I have chosen to do.

Even worse, when I’ve needed You the most,

It seems like You have become more distant than ever.

My enemies delight at my misfortune.

The pain from their sharp, demeaning remarks never abates.

Each one stings, crushing my soul and wounding my spirit,

While derailing my resolve to become strong and purposeful.

Those I’ve trusted have used and misused me,

Rejecting me without cause—never casting a backward glance.

 

Like a fool, I never fathomed what was happening.

As I recoiled from my wounds, filled with despair,

I called upon You, but You were nowhere to be found.

I didn’t want to fail, Father, but I have.

I know I have, and I can’t change the past or what has occurred.

My history is what it is, and it will always remain so.

Many doors have now been closed to me,

But my journey is not yet complete.

Other opportunities will eventuate, but unless

You teach me through my mistakes,

I will never learn my lessons. Instead, I will be doomed

To replicate my errors and remain devoid of discernment.

Help me gain wisdom from my current situation, Father,

Because I don’t want to be in this hopeless, tortured position again,

Amen.

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MY PRAYER: Father,

I’m praying because I know I should,

Not because it is heartfelt.

I can do things for myself.

I always have—always will.

I don’t need Your help—not really.

“Bring it on,” is my motto.

In my heart, this is how I feel—

At least, more often than not.

I’m certainly not trying to hurt anybody,

But I really don’t trust people either—

Not even You, Lord, not even You.

As I grit my teeth obstinately,

With insolence and arrogance,

I convince myself that I can handle anything.

Then, You allow adversity to have full reign over me,

Shaking me at the core of my existence.

Defiantly, I fight You each step of the way,

Refusing to learn the lessons I am being taught.

 

My headstrong attitude defines who I am.

Undaunted by my inflexibility,

You increase the pressure on me,

And I wince and whine at the discomfort,

But I will not yield—not yet.

I still have too much fight left in me.

I cannot submit; I will not submit!

Then, You double the pressure, redoubling it again.

Finally, when I can stand no more,

I break—just a little and, in my bewildered distress,

I cry out, “Why me, Father? What have I done?”

As if completely innocent, I whine, “Why is this happening?”

Revealing Your purpose, You allow me to recognize

Just how much my world required shaking.

Finally, coming to the end of my intransigence,

I acknowledge what I should have earlier.

Your will, and not my self-indulged will, is what I need.

Do with me as You please, Lord, I finally acknowledge,

For You are Almighty God, and I am not,

Amen

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MY PRAYER: Father,

The wounds from my mistreatment run deep,

Creating anger, frustration, and an overwhelming

Sense of worthlessness that

Enervates every area of my life.

With my mouth, I refuse to admit

That this is how I see my situation,

But in the deepest recesses of my mind,

I wonder if the castigation of my abusers is correct.

Maybe my life doesn’t have much value, after all,

Precisely as I have been told repeatedly.

It’s a message I have internalized as accurate.

 

When my exploitation occurred,

I was angrier with You

Than with those who abused me.

Because of the relentlessness of their vitriol,

I believed they spoke the truth,

Which was certainly what they indicated.

But now, I have begun to view things differently.

In my woundedness, it never occurred to me

That Your Son was also abused—just like me—

By hateful, self-righteous religious leaders.

You permitted His abuse—just like You’ve permitted mine.

What Christ’s abusers meant for evil, You meant for good,

Redeeming Mankind through his death and Resurrection.

Without the suffering of Your Son, all would be lost.

Thank You for allowing such a tragedy to occur,

On my behalf, as well as on the behalf of others.

 

Father, can You make my life have similar worth?

Can You use my abuse for something that

Has transforming value for others as well as for me?

Can You turn my pain and my weakness into strength?

Can You take my life, which has been shattered,

And make it joyful and purposeful once again?

Amen.

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