How Is The Negative Mindset of The Addict Transformed?
Bob: We’re talking about relationships in recovery. We talked a little bit about trust and honesty to develop those relationships, all relating to the first question. The third question people have asked me is “How is the negative mindset of the addict transformed? How is it, all of a sudden,” and I always like that part, “How is it, all of a sudden you guys are better?”
Scott: Well, it’s interesting you say all of a sudden. Kind of like I had a colleague in the speaking business who wisely said “an overnight success takes time.”
Scott: I don’t believe there’s such a thing as, you know, quick transformation. It happens slowly, over time, it’s a process that takes time and happens slowly. And this is one of the most difficult things for any addict or spouse or significant other to hear…We as addicts always want what is quickest and want recovery now, fast, quick…Which unfortunately isn’t going to happen.
The negative mindset took years to develop and it’s going to take time to change. And how does this transformation take place? Well, the first part of step 12 in any of the “A” programs and by “A” I mean anonymous programs such as alcoholics anonymous, narcotics anonymous, sex addicts anonymous, overeaters anonymous, gamblers anonymous, etc. says “having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps”, so transformation comes from a spiritual awakening.
I believe in the throes of any addiction or the disease of addiction, the mind is in a negative state and it needs to be transformed through the process of finding a spiritual awakening to a positive state of being. I believe as addicts we’re kind of spiritually dead because we’re not serving a higher power, we’re serving ourselves. And so the mindset had to change over time.
Bob: And it does take a period of time. And part of that process that we’re going through, the process of 12-step recovery and learning to have a spiritual awakening, there are many spiritual awakenings along the way, and they happen. It’s kind of like honesty. Honesty doesn’t come all at once, it comes in bits and pieces. The truth is what comes all at once. It’s something we have to learn. We’ve told so many lies, and lived so many of them throughout our addiction, so much so, that most of the time we believe our own lies. As a matter of fact, it gets to the point where even for me at times, I would lie even when the truth would work.
Scott: Agreed. It was lying for the sake of lying. I caught myself at times saying “Why did I say that?” There’s absolutely no reason sometimes. It’s not that we lie sometimes because we did something and we’re trying to hide it. As you said, we lie for the sake of lying, It’s a habit we developed in our addictive life. I may have said innocently in a conversation, “Oh, yeah, sure, I know him. Oh, yeah, I know her. Oh, yeah, I’ve see that person, or I’ve gone there,” when it’s like, I don’t know these people, I’ve never been there, what am I talking about? And it has no bearing on anything that I may have done or am trying to hide. It’s just a lie. Plain and simple.
Bob: Yeah, it has no importance, and a lot of times it’s really along the lines of embellishment. So, when I had a full page article written about me, about one of my crimes, it wasn’t enough to just let the article speak for itself. I felt the need to make it much grander. It wasn’t good enough that it was almost a full page section in the local crime blotter, it had to be much more than that.
I needed to embellish and lie to make myself look bigger and better and more important. Because I suffer from the disease of “don’t you know who I think I am?”
Scott: Well, Bob, I think a lot of that comes from the opposite of being humble. When we’re humble, we can be ourselves, and it goes back to an earlier question and a comment of being intimate, and honest, and trusting other people.
When we allow people to see who we truly are, we don’t have to lie. But in the throes of addiction, when we’re not comfortable with the space that we exist in and with who we are, we have to create personas, and we have to become larger than who we are. So we lie, and we make things up so we think people look at us and say “Wow, he’s rich. He’s famous. He knows these people. I want to be like him, or I want to know him,” when in fact, when we really become honest and truthful with another human being, and we admit who we are and what we are, we develop a lot stronger relationship.
Bob: Right, but I also think on the negative mindset aspect of it. I want to back up to that, and the original question was, is that a lot of the times our using, our addiction, is usually everybody else’s fault, or circumstances’ fault. As a matter of fact, the more negative mindset the better for our disease. It provides the justification. “If you had my problems you’d do this, too. If you grew up in the home I did, you’d do this, too.” Those types of scenarios.
And the thing is, the mindset changes when we don’t have the ability to blame anybody anymore, because recovery starts when the blaming stops. This is when changing the negative mindset actually starts to take place, and believe it or not, it takes place in the first step, when we actually take some responsibility by admitting that we’re powerless and that we’re unmanageable. You know, self-honesty, and that’s, to me, where the negative mindset starts to disappear. Not go away completely, but little bits of it start to disappear just by accepting that fact.
Scott: And, Bob, along with that, when we’re in the negative mindset it’s easy for us to create animosity, to create fights, to disagree with people, to be resentful of people, and disagree. Then we can stay in that negative mindset, be angry, and then go use, because “Oh, life is terrible. People are terrible. Look at all the things happening to me, being done to me. There’s only one way that I can feel better, I’m going to go drinking with my buddies, I’m going to go drugging, I’m going to go sexing, whatever.” So that negative mindset, you’re right, is a tool of the addict mind to keep us in that loop and in that cycle.
Bob: Yeah, we feel sorry for ourselves. We play the victim. That’s a big part of it also.
Scott: And in the negative mindset, you talked about step one, in the negative mindset we don’t say that we’re powerless, we say that we’re all powerful. We don’t say our life is unmanageable, we say “What are you talking about? I got up for work this morning, I’m getting everything done.”
Bob: “Yeah, I got a handle on it,”
Scott: “I got it covered.”