Addiction Cycle & Shame vs Guilt

Addiction is often referred to as a disease, and it is! Addiction is a dis- “ease” of emotion. Addictive behavior is never about the substance, ac­tivity, or attitude with which the person is acting out addictively. It is al­ways about the distortion of the person’s real feelings and the inability to connect with self and others.

Shame is a painful, searing emotion. It is an emotional response to self-denigrating or self-adulating thoughts or beliefs. Every person ex­periences shame; there is no way not to experience it. However, because shame is an emotional outcome of lies and distortions, it is caustic and corrosive, and will destroy your emotional, spiritual and physical life if you choose to live in a place of shame.

Guilt is a very misused and misunderstood word. Often, we say we “feel guilty” to express the idea of “feeling bad” or even simply feeling uncom­fortable. In fact, guilt is a very specific experience with a very specific purpose.

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Addiction is often referred to as a disease, and it is! Addiction is a dis- “ease” of emotion. Addictive behavior is never about the substance, ac­tivity, or attitude with which the person is acting out addictively. It is al­ways about the distortion of the person’s real feelings and the inability to connect with self and others. Addiction is driven by distorted thoughts (shame) and fear. Distortion (shame) and fear are extremely uncomfort­able feelings. Distortion says things like, “I’m not enough,” “I’m no good,” “no one loves me,” “I don’t matter,” “I’m bad and unworthy,” “I get every­thing right,” “I’m better than you,” etc. Fear then says, “Those statements are true.” And because we so often believe our distorted thoughts, we feel sad, bad, unloved, unwanted, disconnected from others, fearful, trapped, needing to hide, wanting to isolate, etc.

Addictive behavior is the ability to alter reality in such a way that we don’t have to feel anything that we deem as “uncomfortable.” Addiction is the capacity to manipulate our reality so that we numb ourselves to any emotion, event, relationship, trauma, and/or experience that we believe will create any dis-“comfort” emotionally, mentally, physically, socially, financially, and so forth. Addiction is destructive! It destroys connec­tion—all connections. Addiction is not a respecter of persons. It will penetrate anyone who is not willing, or does not know how, to feel and experience Reality as it presents itself to them. If we are not willing to ex­perience Reality as it authentically happens, then addictive thinking will begin to “control” our reality with distorted thoughts and false beliefs (shame). As we unconsciously engage in this distortion of emotions and reality, we “numb” our emotions and thereby render ourselves unable to feel the consequences of our choices. We lose track of the link between choice and outcome. This prevents us from learning from our choices. Thus, we repeatedly make destructive (addictive) choices. We have en­tered the cycle of addiction. Denial forms a central part in this cycle.

Guilt is a very misused and misunderstood word. Often, we say we “feel guilty” to express the idea of “feeling bad” or even simply feeling uncom­fortable. In fact, guilt is a very specific experience with a very specific purpose.

Guilt is the experience of dissonance or discord within your body and spirit. Guilt feels uncomfortable and emotionally painful. Its purpose is to “get your attention”—to alert you when you have thought, said or done anything that violates your integrity, your beliefs, your morals or ethics. Guilt is necessary. It is your ally. Without guilt, you would not know when you had done or said something inappropriate, because you would not feel the disharmony of any inappropriate behavior you had perpetrated on yourself and/or another!

Unfortunately, because guilt is so uncomfortable, many of us attempt to escape it, not by returning to our integrity by redressing the wrong or in­fraction we have committed, but by going into distortion, distraction and denial. If you choose to react to guilt in this manner, you will experience immense shame instead of guilt.

Shame is a painful, searing emotion. It is an emotional response to self-denigrating or self-adulating thoughts or beliefs. Every person ex­periences shame; there is no way not to experience it. However, because shame is an emotional outcome of lies and distortions, it is caustic and corrosive, and will destroy your emotional, spiritual and physical life if you choose to live in a place of shame.
Since you were a child, you’ve learned messages about yourself that were distorted and inaccurate. These distorted thoughts produce the feeling of shame. If you choose not to change (be responsible for) your distorted thoughts, you will remain / live in an ongoing state of shame. This ongo­ing feeling of shame is excruciatingly uncomfortable, and as humans we will do almost anything to control it—even temporarily. Shame drives most human suffering. In attempts to escape the painful feeling of shame, we will use almost anything: anger, depression, fear, addiction, violence, suicide, etc—all to control / distract from the FEELING, instead of re­framing the beliefs behind the emotion of shame. And this diversion into controlling / distracting your feelings instead of reframing the thoughts that are creating the feelings—this is how shame entraps so many of us, even for our entire life.
If you do not reframe your distorted thoughts and false beliefs into the Truth, they will influence and affect your entire world, creating hopeless­ness and anger, perpetuating addictions, obliterating boundaries, causing caustic attitudes, enabling abuse towards yourself and others, and leaving a wake of destruction within you and behind you. Shame violates the Truth about your power of choice by convincing you that you cannot (or should not) make choices; you feel stuck, trapped and unable to change. Shame prevents you from becoming who you really are and really can be. Shame promotes a feeling of being forced or compelled, having no options, and thinking in extreme, black-and-white terms.
Shame (distorted thoughts / false beliefs) offers promises of “forgiveness” through self-denial and self-punishment (self-denigration) or through “being better than” others (self-adulation). In all cases, shame is based on the false premise that what you do somehow determines what you are— that your worth and value as an individual fluctuates depending on how much “good” you do and how “good” you feel. This is a lie. Shame is a lie. If you choose to believe the aggressive messages of your distorted thoughts and false beliefs, you will continue to experience life in a state of shame and self-hatred. ​

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General Edition, LDS Edition

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