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How Beliefs Influence Addiction

addiction How much power does a belief have over our behavior?  Can what you are believing actually influence whether or not you will become an addict?

How Beliefs Influence Addiction

When we are young, we begin to form beliefs based on the world as we see it.  Our culture helps us in deciding what is acceptable or unacceptable, important or unimportant, right or wrong, workable or unworkable. We then set out to create our world around an internalized belief of how life should work.  Personality traits that lead to addictive behaviors originate in deep inner beliefs. The “American Dream” has produced a culture of people who are clamoring to experience the euphoria of being extraordinary. Sometimes what is a widely accepted belief can become a point of vulnerability for the addictive personality type. What might appear as harmless can, in fact, create deep inner conflicts for the person struggling with an addictive personality.

Belief #1: I Should Be Perfect

One belief that fuels addiction is “I should be perfect”.  This belief is a set up for failure.  The idea of what you should be causes a problem all in itself.  By whose standard should you be perfect?   You did not come to this world to live your life by someone else’s standard. It is complete nonsense to believe that if you don’t have the brains, looks, or money of some fluffed up image you have seen on television, then you are missing something.  What makes up a “perfect” human being?  Here is where the big lie takes hold. You tell yourself that you are not as you should be. You then can only conclude that you are failing. You are not living up to your expectations of yourself.  Ouch! It feels awful to come up short, inadequate. Downright painful. Addicts hate painful thoughts so the only logical thing to do is to numb that feeling.  Now, are you getting it?  This is a very real way that our beliefs can have influence over addictive behaviors. I once had a friend that loved to interrupt me every time I used the word should.  She would say: “Quit should’n on yourself!”  If there is one word that I would like to see banished from ever being used, it would be the word “should”.  One way to get rid of a bad habit is to starve it to death. If you are using the “should” word, then a good time to stop would be now. If you don’t believe you are perfect, that’s okay. Just don’t bring up the subject for now.  Eventually, you will see the perfection in everything about your life.

Belief #2: I Should Always Get What I Want

What happens when a person believes that they should always get what they want?  Unless that person is a child, then they are headed for another addictive personality trait.  A child does not know how to self-regulate.  A child may want to eat only cocoa puffs with chocolate milk every day.  The responsible adult will refuse their demands. Any reasonable adult understands that in the long run, it’s not a good idea to indulge the child.  Believing that you should always get what you want could be cause for some serious frustration. A world without limits is not a reasonable substitute for a sane existence.  You may later find it harder to get the cooperation you need in order to get your fix. And then what?  Enough is never enough for the addict.  Wanting more, and believing we should have it is an addictive personality trait steeped in a false belief. I once had a very hard time with impulsive spending.  I thought I deserved to buy anything I liked.  Eventually, I was buying on credit.  It took some time to work my way out of debt.  One thing I did learn was that I really didn’t want all that stuff I was buying.  An addict wants immediate gratification.  The long-term is something they hope will never come.  Since life is never stagnating we all will find that time has moved on and we are in a different place somewhere down the road.  The belief that you should have no limits is unrealistic in the least.  It will land you right in the middle of full-blown addiction and there is nothing more limiting that a sickness that robs you of your joy.  A good affirmation to help you overcome this limiting belief might be something like this: “I have all that I need to live a joyful, peaceful life.”  It is a feeling you are wanting.  Our thoughts influence and create our feelings.  Change the thought and your feelings will change too.  In the long run, your sobriety will help you in reframing your beliefs. The only thing you are going to want more of is the life you desire.

Belief #3: I Should Be in Control

Ever wonder how the world got along before Superman, Spiderman and Catwoman came on the scene?  One of the beliefs of an addictive personality is they should be in control at all times.  They also believe that they should be given the power to control others.  Illusions of power and competence are common effects of mood-altering drugs.  Even the adrenaline rush that comes from the excitement of planning the next fix can cause an addict feel powerful.  The use of cocaine on college campuses is an example of this belief system gone mad.  Students using cocaine to stay awake late and study for exams are playing a game of roulette with their minds. The false sense of being in control and having the power to control the outcome are truly traits of the addictive person.   In reality, the life of an addict is out of control in every sense of the word.  When relationships or work spin out of control, the addict will seek to control by using. A common thread with these three beliefs is the idea of what a person should do or be.  For the addict, it will always be “I should”.  An addict knows deep down inside that there is no way they can be any of the things they think should be. The addict has lost track of how to feel perfect or how to know if they have accomplished what they want.  Addiction strips a person of control.  Every belief is given over to the lower power of addiction. Only through abstinence and sobriety can our beliefs be set right.  Once you have decided to free yourself from addiction, your beliefs will take on new meaning for you. As you make the changes and accept the challenges you will be making choices to let go of beliefs that are not serving you.  New understanding about what you believe will help to point you toward your higher power.  Whether you believe in God or not, you will find the higher road for yourself.  It is the one where you tell yourself the truth and the truth is what you believe.

Ashwood Recovery is here to help you and your loved ones overcome addiction and other disordered behaviors. Our counseling programs have already helped many of our clients get their lives back. Call us now to start your journey to recovery today. Don’t let addiction and other dangerous behaviors go untreated, and cause extreme emotional, mental and physical hurt and harm to yourself and those around you.

Contact Ashwood Recovery at (208) 906-0782 or