Why You Think Your Addict is in Control
“My addict is just too strong,” said Carl. “I try to stop the thoughts, but the addict always wins.” If you step back from Carl’s statement, do you think that Carl is blaming his addict-self for his behavior?
“I just can’t stop myself” is another common refrain. But think about this for a minute: If you can’t stop yourself, who could? Who has control here? You might reply that your addict has control. But that’s not true. Your addict is part of you. Therefore you are in control.
No One Can Make You Feel Anything
We’ve all had occasions when we said something to the effect of, “She made me so mad” or “He made me feel guilty.” Such statements are based on the fairly common false belief that others can make you feel bad. It is true that others can influence you to feel a certain way. However, similar to how you are in relationship to your addict self, you have the ultimate control of how you react to the words and behavior of others.
If you’ve read George Collins’ book Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Obsession, and Shame, you know that you are not your mind, not your thoughts, and not your story. What does “you are not your story” mean? One thing it means is that you are not the story you tell yourself that your addict is making you do it or that this other person makes you angry, guilty, etc.
Having Different Reactions to the Same Stimulus
To illustrate the validity of the assertion that no one can make you feel anything, think of occasions when you and another person had different reactions to the same stimulus.
An example might be your reaction when you’re driving in traffic and someone darts in front of your car, cutting you off. Many people might curse at the other driver. A few people might take out a gun and shoot the other driver if they could. Others might shrug it off as not worth the energy to get annoyed.
The point is that the same event can cause different reactions. Therefore, the incident is not making different people react in various ways. Their reactions are rooted in their belief systems about who they are and the stories they have about themselves.
Ending the Myth of Your Addict Making You Do Anything
It may be difficult to accept that if you get upset by what someone else does or says, or you give in to your addict “telling” you to act out, you have actually chosen to be upset or chosen to give in to your addict. You could have made a different choice. You could have, as George Collins says, asked yourself “What else?” What else can I do rather than act out? The truth is, as George also says, “You always have a choice.”
It may not be easy to make another choice. That said, the first step is to accept that you do have a choice and, therefore, you are in control. You are in charge of how you respond to a driver cutting you off in traffic. You are responsible for how you react to your addict self “telling” you to act out sexually.
What can you do to experience being in charge of your life as opposed to giving away your power to your addict or others?
• Accept responsibility for your own thoughts, your own stories.
• Accept responsibility for your responses to your thoughts and stories.
• Practice reminding yourself that you have a choice in how to respond to your addict thoughts and stories.
• Develop the skill of noticing when you want to instantly react and, instead, taking a pause to give yourself time to respond from a place of “personal empowerment.”
• Own your emotions. When you get upset by the words or actions of another, or you give in to your addict’s desires, own that your response is your choice.
The Rewards of Taking Back Your Power
When you blame others or your addict for your reactions or your behaviors, you are giving away your power. On the other hand, when you own your responses to your mind, your stories, or the actions of others, you are taking control of your life. When you take control of your life, you experience the truth that you are in charge, which means you can make your life better, happier, more enjoyable.