Diagnosing an addiction is not difficult. Overcoming the power of denial is.
- If you came home every night and consume eight cans of creamed corn, might your spouse be justified in believing you might have a problem?
- If you came home every night and disappeared into your bedroom and spent hours on the internet surfing for pictures of kittens to the neglect of your family, is it possible that you might have a problem?
- If when you traveled for work, you spent your money on clowns, cream pies, and floppy red shoes, would you consider seeking help?
Does this sound ridiculous? It is. All except for their tragic consequences, the obsessive behavior of a real addiction is ridiculous when viewed from the outside. Only when the addiction effects you or someone you love does it take on the dark and menacing tone of tragedy.
Denial is a common mental process the serves to protect us from a painful reality. At times denial works in our favor. When the ship is sinking, denial of my very possible death allows me to focus on what I need to do to get the lifeboat launched. Denial keeps me from being frozen in fear.
But if my denial is overactive, the ship may be sinking, I do nothing to save myself. Here is the ridiculous image of myself relaxing in an easy chair while ocean waves wash over me as the ship sinks below the surface of the waves.
The addiction is the tragedy of disease. My denial renders my condition ridiculous.
When you or someone you love struggle with addiction, try this. Shift the focus from the behavior of the addiction to the denial of the addiction.
Once you tackle denial, you can begin to work on the addiction with greater success.