Like harmful mold and fungi, bad behaviors tend to grow and multiply when people are alone. Why is this? Is it because we are ashamed of and embarrassed by our behaviors? Addiction behaviors tend to increase when a person is alone and doesn’t have feedback from another person. The obvious one is addiction to pornography, but this also includes alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, and retail therapy. Some will rationalize their behaviors and suggest that they are not hurting anyone but themselves. This justification does not hold water since all actions have consequences and we are deceiving ourselves even as we hide our behaviors and lie to our loved ones.
The reality is that lying leads to defensiveness, justification, and blame which creates distance between us and the people we love. It can impact our relationships, finances, and sometimes jeopardize our work. The problems mushroom (grow in the dark) and cascade into a series of damaging and destructive choices. We may even convince ourselves that there is no way out and decide that we have lost complete control of our behaviors. However, there is good news. I believe that where there is life, there is hope. We can change our behaviors, but first we need to recognize what needs changing and then learn how to make it happen. Certainly commitment and motivation are required to change along with the belief that change is possible.
The first step is shining the light on your behavior and coming clean. Hopefully you can be transparent with your spouse and also have an additional accountability person that will hold your feet to the fire and call you on your actions. Stepping out of denial and into acceptance takes courage. Secondly, there needs to be a plan that you put into place, maybe an internet filtering program, an accountability program or a 12-step AA program that will provide support and monitoring. For some, professional counseling will be necessary to adequately address the addiction while others may need an intensive inpatient treatment program. Often addictions form from an underlying personal problem and identifying the deeper issues that contribute to the destructive behaviors can be helpful. Surrounding oneself with a positive and healthy support group along with leaning on others to gain strength and encouragement is important. Sometimes guilt and shame prevent us from sharing our issues, but these emotions also keep us stuck in our dysfunctional behaviors. Living in the dark prevents us from fully experiencing the joy of relationships and life. Shed light on your problems and embrace change, you’ll be glad you did.