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"I had pretty much given up on my marriage, and the only way I could see was to get out... The help and support that my husband and I received from Mitchel, has put us on a path to healing and given us a new outlook on our marriage. We are so grateful for FLBT!"

Looking at addiction only from the standpoint of how often you engage, can keep you in denial. Addictions affects your brain, your emotional life, and your rational life.  The following are some traits associated with addictive and compulsive behaviors. These alone don't necessarily guarantee that you have a problem, but it can help you to begin to look at the possibility that you might have a problem.  

  • Self Medication - The person uses the substance to fix situations and feel better.  Mistakenly, they believe that they are only using it for social reasons or pain management, but in fact it is "helping" them cope with life.

  • Numbing / Avoidance of Feeling -  For those who tend toward addiction, feeling makes them  feel vulnerable and out of control.  Most likely their family upbringing did not allow for feelings and so they do not have real practice on what to do when they feel a certain way.  It was as if the family "feeling thermostat" was set to 55° and everyone called it "warm."  When the substance comes along, it makes us feel better and comforts us against any unpleasant emotion.

  • Shame -  The term usually refers to "toxic shame" which is different from "healthy shame" which helps us realize that we are human and "not God." "Toxic Shame" goes further and dehumanizes us and isolates us from the rest of humanity.  We are less than others and instead of making a mistake, we feel that we are "a mistake."  Due to toxic shame, we either admit no problems, where we act shameless, or we walk around full of shame.  This manifests itself mainly in relationships where we either act "better than" or "less than."  Shame is responsible for a lot of the arguments in addictive relationships.  Someone is just trying to talk with us about our behavior, but we personalize it, hear the message we are "bad" and defend ourselves.

  • Denial -  Is the coping mechanism of unawareness.  It is really not about lying, but about a total unawareness that there is a problem.  Oftentimes, the more severe the problem, the more denial there is.

  • Minimizing -  Is the coping mechanism of acknowledging something, but making it "not that big of a deal."  They often feel that people are making a "mountain out of a molehill."

  • Normalizing -  This occurs when a person wants to feel normal, because of the shame they feel.   So they surround themselves with other addicts who do the same level of drinking, sexing, avoiding, etc. so they feel normal.  "Everyone then must be an alcoholic."

  • Blaming -  The addicted feels that they might be "somewhat at fault, but they are sure that other people are more to blame" for whatever is happening in their lives.  Even when they have a legitimate complaint, the blame gets them stuck, causing them not to take responsibility and find a solution.  The problem is that they don't look as to how they contribute to the problem, and additionally, this gives them a sense of entitlement to engage in their addiction.

  • Emotional Avoidance -  People who struggle with addictions aren't' good at staying emotionally present. The exception is when they are angry which pushes people away.  The "addiction" becomes the  "trusted source of comfort" rather than people or God.  Usually they are not emotionally aware of their feelings.  This avoidance typically creates an "emotional chase scene" where one is emotionally try to connect while the other runs away and avoids.

  • Grandiosity -  Due to lack of self esteem, shame  and the momentary awareness that  "they are screwing up their lives," the addicted becomes grandiose.  They inflate their sense of self to help push people away to escape vulnerability. Sometimes their grandiosity is from achievements they have accomplished due to their "needing to be perfect."  The addicted person has an uncanny sense of being able to have low self-esteem and being the best of everything all at the same time.

  • Low Self-Esteem-  This is slightly  different than shame in that the person reveals their low self-esteem to others.  This usually can lead to depression, "victim mentality" and lack of changes in behavior.

  • Controlling -  Really, it is about " attempting to control." Control is somewhat of an illusion.  We try to control what people think of us, our environments, our spouse, and our children.  We are like a director who wants to run the whole show.  If everyone would do as we wish, the show would be great.  But what happens?  The world doesn't always cooperate.  So we exert ourselves more by using kindness or meanness to get them to change.  We are a victim of the delusion that we can get what we want out of life if only we manage well.

  • Codependency -  This is an addiction itself.  We try to numb our feelings by fixing, thinking for, reminding, and acting as the conscience of those around us.  WE can be more in touch with their life than our own.  We learn this survival skill usually by growing up in a family that has addiction or is dysfunctional.  WE had to always had to predict what was going to happen next.

  • Black & White Thinking-Rigid Thinking -  Addiction is not about moderation.  We have trouble being moderate in most things.  It's like the addiction kills all the "reasonable brain cells" or "grey cell" leaving only the black or the white, the all or the nothing.

  • Anger -  If there is a feeling that is expressed, it is usually anger.  Not being able to engage in the compulsive or addictive behavior makes the person irritable or angry.

  • Quick Fix Mentality -  The addicted individual is used to  "fixing" their uncomfortable feelings with their addictive behavior.  As a result, they expect change to happen fast and have difficulty waiting for things or progress over time.  One of the reasons relapse is so common, is because they are unable to withstand the painful or uncomfortable feelings of not engaging in their addictive behavior.

  • Ego Boundaries -  People with addictive and compulsive behaviors have trouble maintaining ego boundaries.   They have an inflated sense of self.  They feel too responsible for what is going on around them and they have an inordinate sense of influence over others.  They feel  that they can just talk with someone to make everything alright.

  • Irresponsible and Unmanageable -  Addicts have difficulty managing their lives.  They have trouble with procrastination, following through, and avoidance.

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