One of the most important questions I invite my clients to ask themselves is “where are you not telling the truth?”
Most of us believe ourselves to be honest. We do not steal, we work hard, we do our very best. We compare ourselves to criminals, and because we win that contest, we jump to the conclusion that our slates are clean. But, are they?
We all have our “dirty little secrets.” We all have places in our lives where we really, honestly, are not doing our best. My invitation is to look and see where you are selling yourself short.
I lie to myself every day about how much coffee I drink. I then rationalize this lie by pointing to the research that proves that a reasonable amount of coffee is actually healthy. I hate this about myself, so I deny reality. I drink too much damn coffee. I am afraid of how tired I would be, and the headache I would have if I tried to quit.
I tell myself that if anyone worked as hard as I do, they would need to drink coffee all day too. I point to the number of times I have quit, how hard it was, and to no avail, because I am back on the stuff. I have long, dramatic stories about my struggle that would have you join me in a cup even if you are not a coffee drinker. And there are coffee shops everywhere! I would have to live on an island, alone, if I were to quit. And at least I don’t drink red bull anymore, so that’s good, right?
I used to habitually use cocaine, so I am practically a saint by the fact that now I just drink coffee. All of this talking about my favorite beverage has my mouth watering. What is it that your mouth waters for, and what lies do you tell yourself to perpetuate your addiction?
The truth will set you free. That is the promise.
The challenge is finding the deep truth that you are denying. As I was journaling this morning, which I highly recommend as a way to self-reflect, I went deep into the question of my addiction. I saw something there for myself that I have, up until now, not seen.
As a child, I experienced extreme violence in my home. I had to be constantly vigilant, or I would be in danger. Today, even though I “know” better, I am still, on some level, afraid to relax. It manifests as if my very life depends on my being hyper-aware at all times.
The level of fear that I feel at the thought of not being this way brings me to tears. This is what I do not want to feel. This is my deep, painful truth. This is what I have to be willing to walk myself through if I really want to make a difference in my relationship to myself.
Any addiction is about having an honest relationship with your deepest self. The way in is the way out.
From my experience with other, much more life-threatening addictions, the first step is to tell yourself the truth. Then share this truth with others. There we can find a common bond, a community, a connection with others. This is what life is all about. This is the most basic human longing.