Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chiseling Out Your Soul (Part Five)

The Twelve-Step program says that healthy self-love is the basis of recovery. it states: "Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps," addicts learn that they are not terminally unique, and this reduces the sense of shame that is at the core of all sex addicts. This is the gift of humility. Addicts recognize their own humanness, which allows the emergence of the true self.

At the heart of the Twelve-Steps model is spirituality. Addicts are challenged by the twelve steps to admit their powerlessness, to develop a relationship with a power greater than themselves, and to turn their will and lives over to this higher power. The goal of the steps is to allow addicts to see how their choices about their behaviors are not working, that they are not in control, and that they need help.

However, the mere language of the twelve steps -- "letting go, turning it over, surrendering" -- is enough to make an addict flee a twelve-step meeting. Being in control, or having the illusion of control, is how he survived. "Surrender" translated into shame, abandonment, fear, or death. The addict closed off his internal world as if he were cast away on a deserted island. Having no needs or wants, he learned to sustain emotional deprivation and even take pride in the lack of sustenance. Holding onto control or the illusion of control provided a false sense of security.

The transformation of recovery comes about with a realization: The only things you have control over are your choices, not the outcomes. It is a huge moment in recovery when an individual realizes that he needs help, and that, through letting go of control, change is possible.

The addict who is involved in individual and group therapy, as well as a twelve-step program, has a better chance of maintaining sobriety. One reason for this success rate is the enormous impact that twelve-step program meetings can have on challenging the addict's cognitive distortions.

Cognitive distortions are thought patterns or defenses that protect us from our pain. Because these defenses operate from the unconscious, the individual is often unaware of them until his beliefs and attitudes regarding change are challenged. The irony is that, even though defenses protect the addict from his pain, these same defenses are the obstacles that stand in the way of recovery. For addicts, even considering discarding their defenses is extremely frightening because it leaves them vulnerable to feeling pain.


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