Not too long ago, I was asked the following question by one of the men I work with: “Do I have to always remind myself that I’m a loser because of my addiction?” I admit, I was taken aback by this question. So much so that I feel it’s important to address it to a wider audience.
If you’ve been reading our blogs here on the Neulia site, you’re probably already familiar with the concept that “you are not your addict.” Your true self and your addict are two different people. Your addict is all compulsion and shame; your true self is where your hopes, dreams, ambitions, and potential lie.
Sometimes, men who come to us from 12-step programs have an especially hard time separating the two concepts. In the beginning of each meeting, you’re obliged to say your name and then say, “I’m an addict.” I absolutely understand the importance of this. It’s a way of taking ownership of your actions so that you can begin to progress through the 12 steps. Indeed, these programs have helped many people, and I am certain they will continue to do so.
But that one phrase, “I’m an addict,” can really get into some people’s heads. It can cause problems with negative thinking, and that’s a bad thing.
You have an addiction. You have an addict inside you. But that’s not all you are.
You’re Not a Loser, and You Never Were
A lot of people are walking around like they are their addiction.
If you think about this in terms of your addiction being a separate identity – a scared, ashamed, self-destructive identity – it begins to make more sense. Of course your addiction wants you to believe that you and it are inseparable. It needs you to survive. It needs you to continue feeding itself. It doesn’t want to go away.
So, it makes you believe that it’s a fundamental part of you, and as a result, you are a loser. Losers aren’t trying to better their lives. Losers accept what’s in front of them and never try to make any positive changes. Your addiction gets to stay exactly where it is, and gets to keep doing exactly what it wants.
Looking at this another way – it really seems like your addiction is the loser, doesn’t it?
You are at the mercy of faulty wiring, corrupted software. Something happened to you in your past that made you the way you are. But just like you wouldn’t pitch a computer in the trash because it got a virus, you also shouldn’t think of yourself as a loser because you’re fighting a sex or porn addiction.
You remove the corrupted software on a computer so that you can still access the important files, the family photos, and the financial information saved there. When we remove the corrupted software from you, the person you truly are will finally get to begin living.
The Importance of Relationship Counseling
Sometimes, this idea that “I’m a loser,” can stem from a relationship.
Look, it’s safe to say that if you’re a sex or porn addict in a relationship with someone, you’ve probably hurt that person with your behavior. You probably didn’t mean to, and you’re probably very sorry, but they’ve been hurt all the same.
That person needs counseling too, and if they’re not getting it, the two of you aren’t likely to move past this.
Think of it this way: if I accidentally cut someone with a knife, is my apology going to make them better? What if I swear I’ll never do it again? Of course not. Taking this metaphor a step further: if this person is cut and bleeding, am I really the best person to try to treat that wound? Again, no. They don’t need me, they need a doctor. They need to get that cut looked at before it becomes worse.
If you’re living in a situation where the person you’ve wounded isn’t getting the help they need, you will continue to live in that moment where they’re cut and bleeding, and you can’t help. That will definitely make you feel like a loser.
This Mindset Is Toxic
People think that if they keep reminding themselves that they’re terrible people, they won’t slip back into their addictive behaviors. The problem here is that this kind of negative reinforcement leads right into acting out.
Think about what triggers you now to act out. Is it stress? Anger? Self-doubt? Fear? Loneliness? Rejection? Those are all negative feelings, and your addict has trained you to self-soothe by acting out sexually. How much “I’m a loser,” do you think you can take before you spiral right back to where you were in the first place?
The truth is that we are our own worst critics. We beat ourselves up worse than anybody. That’s true of addicted and non-addicted people, but addicts need to be especially aware of this. It’s what got you into this mess in the first place, and it really shouldn’t be part of your recovery.
Sounds tough, right? Well, that’s why we’re here. We’re going to teach you how to listen to that negative voice, process what it’s saying, and then talk back. We’re going to teach you how to praise yourself when you have a “win,” and how to keep those positive moments coming. We’re going to show you how to see past the fog of addiction, and to look into the world out there beyond this destructive cycle.
You’re not a loser, but it’s hard to believe that when a part of you keeps saying it over and over. If you want to learn how to get past that voice, get in touch with us. We will help.