The Addiction Hope Cycle
We all have things that influence us every day: Computer Media, family, friends, classmates, fellow employees, neighbors, television, etc… These are different for every individual. They are either positive or negative, big or small. Who gets to choose? We do. Each one of us individually. We choose the influences that impact us. We turn on the T.V., choose to talk to others, read articles, play computer games, etc.. Some of these influences impact more than others and we find our emotions, passions, and desires being stimulated and getting involved. Do we stop seeing this person, watching this show, or let it continue to influence us? Add to this then problems or difficulties.
When difficulties arise, we are taught to get as many of the facts about the situation that we can, identify the main issue that needs to be addressed, do some research on how to address the issue, identify options for addressing the issue and the resources needed for each option, choose and option that is doable for us, gather the resources needed, and apply those resources to the problem in a way that produces a positive result and reduces the stress of having the problem.
This takes care of about 70% of the problems. But what about the other 30%? Those problems we can’t fix or figure out. The issues we don’t have resources to address. These make us feel like a failure, stupid, dumb, helpless, weak, limited, and angry. Our needs are going unmet, our goals are being blocked, our wishes ignored. What will happen if this continues? Is it bearable for me to go through life like this?
Terror creeps in then as these secondary emotions build up and consolidate in our thinking in the bucket of the primary emotion of FEAR. This is unacceptable we have to do something about this emotion. It must be numbed down. Since we can’t seem to fix the problem, at least we can find ways to numb up ourselves or distract ourselves to keep from thinking about it.
So we go out to a negative action called substance use which gives us a positive effect. It feels good. Temporarily. In a short while we come down from the high and end up in withdrawals, or the alcoholic buzz wears off and we end up with a hangover. Now the fear begins to show up again and invade our thinking as the problem has just gotten bigger. This is unacceptable. So we return to the negative action that brings us at least a little relief. But it is not the same. It takes more of the action to give us the results we first had. Our brains are getting used to the chemical reaction and require more to get the same feelings of relief. So we go back for more. This negative cycle acts as a pump. Each time we go through the cycle it aids to blowing up a balloon called negative consequences. When it pops we will lose freedom, finances, privileges, family, possessions, and everything else we hold dear. Not all at once, but eventually after balloon after balloon pops and those negative consequences spill back into our lives making the initial stress we were feeling seem miniscule. Now we don’t hesitate. We run back to the negative action for relief to once again find it lacking. Our life is now out of control as Fear turns into despair and the feelings of guilt and shame rush in to remind us of the person we could and should be. What happened to us?
Negative emotions encourage us to seek out negative influences (misery loves company). And we bask in our sorrows as we try to numb down our feelings. Others feeling similar feelings join us as these influences impact our thinking.
We think about four general areas: The world, Others, Self, and God. With these negative emotions and influences impacting our thoughts we think that the world is out of control, others are a threat to us (we can’t trust anyone), we hate ourselves (getting put in this position in the first place), and God doesn’t care (or He would have prohibited this from happening).
If we think about this a lot, and we do, our thinking solidifies into beliefs. Beliefs are positive/negative, big or small. Big beliefs rise up to become values. And it is our values when fueled by our emotions that become actions. If our thoughts are negative, beliefs are negative, emotions are negative, we will have negative values. What do we value the most? The negative action because it is the only thing in our life that at the time seems to be giving us any kind of positive relief.
If the negative action continues it will become a negative habit. Negative habits join together in our life to become negative character qualities, Negative character qualities over time become our reputation. And our reputation is the determining factor for whether other people can trust us or not. Trust of others will determine whether or not we have a positive or negative future. Example: So if I lie, and I lie a lot, I will develop a negative habit (lying). Stealing is the same. Being drunk or addicted to drugs is the same. These habits impact my character and overtime I become known by others as a liar, a thief, and a drunk or addict. If someone is starting up a new business can they trust us to handle things responsibly? No! Trust is lost, and the opportunity for employment disappears. Our future has been sacrificed and becomes negative.
This is an unacceptable outcome. There has to be another option. There is but it is difficult. It is called the Hope Cycle.
When difficulties or problems arise that we can’t fix we have a choice to give in to the secondary emotions that result and turn into fear or move instead to finding a source of help. This help has to be like no other help that we know. When we feel like a failure the help is a winner, when we feel helpless the help is our helper. When we feel out of control, the help is in control. When we feel stupid, the Help is wise. The key is getting the help to where is it needed and that is IN US. So of the world, others, self and God (the things we think about) which one answers the qualifications of being this helper we need? The world has its problems that we are trying to remedy or fix, others have the same problems we do, we (myself) is out of control. So there is God. Only He is a winner, wise, always in control, a helper in time of need, etc… So we have to get God in our life in order for our soul, our inner self, to be at peace. The problem is when God comes in He does not subjugate Himself to us, He is to be God, Lord of our life. He is the pilot, driver, King, ruler, and the owner of the life if He comes in. So the deed of the person is to be given to Him. For many this is unacceptable. But if this does not occur there will always be internal conflict for ownership of the life and God, the Creator and sustainer of all things, will win anyway. So it is best not to challenge Him.
So when you invite Him in you invite Him in as the King He is. You give Him all rights associated with your life, and you commit yourself to doing His will, His pleasure, according to His plan for you. Thus we put on our servants clothes and go to work for Him each day and ask Him what He wants to do. We place our FAITH in Him to handle the 30% we can’t fix. This relationship begins with us humbling ourselves before Him each day, acknowledging His ownership of us, and submitting to participating with Him in His will and plan for our use. As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, we become “Little Christs”.
We know we are acting in faith when we move to not negative actions like we did when we were afraid, we move to positive actions instead. These are worship (acknowledging the Lordship and presence of God in us, acknowledging His character and power to handle the problems we face). When then communicate with him the opportunities we see for us to trust him (Prayer). We then enter into thankfulness ( the recognition that He is more than able to handle the things we give Him and is willing to do so in a way that gives Him glory), and we begin to participate in the actions that He is committed to: Creation, redemption, reconciliation, guidance, and restoration. We ask if things need to be said or written, if someone needs the Good News of Salvation shared with them, if two brother or sisters need to be reconciled, if guidance is needed, or broken things restored.
When God comes into our life, He brings with him who He is, and primarily that is love, the greater way. Out of his love He chooses not to leave us the way we were but give us a better life in Him. So He comes in and fills us with Love, so we then can go out and love others effectively in the humbled state we are in as we submit ourselves to His lordship.
Having Him there, our Helper, filling us with Himself, His love, gives us Hope instead of despair. We are removed from our guilt and shame and begin loving others bringing us acceptance, significance, and purpose. It is when we are in this state that we can choose positive influences and make them big impactors of our lives.
These positive influences along with the positive emotions of faith, hope, and love impact our thinking. The world becomes a beautiful place to live in, others are co-passengers with us as we journey through life, I can love myself because I am now filled with love, and God must care because He is living in my life. As a matter of fact he says over and over fear not, for I am with you! We are to place our faith in Him.
Positive thinking then turns in time to positive beliefs. Beliefs rise us to become values and we value the positive actions as humbling ourselves before God, worshipping Him in spirit and in truth, being thankful for all that He does in our life, and for giving us hope for a positive future with Him, and the power to love others even when they are hard to love because His love simply overflows and spills out of us to others in the form of positive actions.
These positive actions blow up different balloons. They are positive and we find ourselves getting finances, family, friends, possessions, at times and we call them blessings from God. These encourage us to keep trusting and placing our faith in God.
Positive actions become positive habits, positive habits lead to positive character, positive character over time becomes a positive reputation. Now people trust us to handle things responsibly and the result is a positive future.
Even when God chooses suffering to teach us obedience and the importance of depending upon Him, we can have peace knowing He is with us and will eventually bring all things under His dominion for His glory.
So may all the glory go to Him for giving us Himself who is in control, and works all things according to His divine plan.
This tools was developed to provide hope for change for those suffering with substance abuse issues.
Please see the Blog on Influences. Influences are either positive or negative, big or small. Who gets to choose? We do! The big influences are used to validate either positive or negative thoughts we have about the world, others, self, and God. We tend to choose influences on the way they help us meet our basic needs and cope with our most basic fears. When we choose faith instead of fear, we are then more able to choose positive influences as the BIG influences in our life.