This is not a phrase I have used, ever. However, when I asked God to show me my sin a couple weeks ago this is what eventually came up. My sin is mostly controlled on the outside, minus a lost temper or the occasional s-word. I do my best to treat people well and my family better, but I’m not perfect. The main and most frustrating sin happens inside my brain in the form of negative thoughts. What I am calling addictions, which are…
the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
… causes severe trauma. What is trauma? According to Psychology Today:
Psychological trauma may set in after a distressing or life-threatening event. Sufferers may develop extreme anxiety or PTSD, or they may have ongoing problems with relationships and self-esteem. But many overcome trauma, offering inspiration to others who have had life-altering negative experiences.
So putting these definitions to work to explain Mental Addictions would look a little like this:
Being enslaved by a mental habit to the extent that there is trauma, a distressing time in which sufferers developed anxiety or other mental side effects that create problems within their own worlds, self-esteems and/or in the reality around them.
A Mental Addiction are comparison, self-deprecating thoughts, assumptions/judgements, worry, doubt, fear, anxiety, bitterness, resentment, manipulation or other mental games. These thoughts embed themselves, with the help of our subconscious into our minds through events both reality and the artificial reality we create. Our minds switch to autopilot and the well-worn pathways are chosen out of habit… addiction, enslaving us and eventually causing great damage. Left unattended these thoughts lead us to depression, panic attacks, withdraw or simply to a place of self-loathing. They effect our lives whether we like to admit it or not. They effect how we see ourselves, others and thus how we let others see us and treat us. They effect our family dynamic and our work experience. They never cease therefore they are linked to every area of our lives.
I find myself daily battling my mental addictions. Mainly comparison which stems from Satan’s lies of not being good enough and not doing enough. If I see anyone with three kids and killing the game of life, I sulk. By the way, ALL the mental addictions stem from Satan’s lies. I guess the goal should be to replace all the lies and negative thoughts with God’s truths and positive thoughts. Once I started to see these thoughts for what they really were, addictions, it changed their hold on me. It changed my awareness of them. All of the sudden I could see them, clear as day. It was like my autopilot became inoperable and I was paying attention to all the thoughts filtering through my mind. I posted one day, “If its good, It’s GOD!” This is where it came from. If the thought inside you head is innately good then it is from God. I tried to focus on the good and not give time or energy to the bad. Slowly I could feel things start to shift.
There was fear too. Lots of fear. That I wasn’t going to understand or be able to implement or hold on to good practices/habits and that eventually the bad would take over again. Or even worse, that my girls, my precious, innocent girls would take on my negative thinking without even trying. Because it is so embedded in me, I knew they would pick up on it. The voice inside my head about how I viewed myself both internally and physically would become the same voice in their heads. NOOOO!!!! I couldn’t let that happen. I want them to grow up with just the right amount of confidence but I have no idea how to do that because I don’t have any myself. Thats where I need to start. Where do I put my confidence? In CHRIST ALONE. Knowing that I am becoming the person he has created me to be, that I am trying my hardest to only live from that place and knowing that I am saying yes to Him and what he is asking of me gives me confidence. Then I have to use willpower and prayer to cancel out and not listen to anything that comes against that.
The first and most important thing to start doing is paying attention. Shut off the autopilot and think about what you are thinking about. When life happens what is your first response? “I could have handled that better! Why was I so stupid? I’m the worst! Life is out to get me! They must hate me! How does she do it all? There must me something wrong with me! Why can’t I just stay focused on what really matters!” On and on and on. You need to see them for what they really are! You need to see them as self-abusive mental addictions. Your inner dialog should sound a little more like this… “I did my best. I handled that well. Even in frustrations I can still find something to be thankful for. God is with me, He never leaves me. The victory is already mine through Christ. He works everything for good for those who love Him. She is a beautiful mom, doing a great job, but we are different so our lives will look different, I have no idea what she is going through on the inside.”
The second thing to do and the hardest part is getting accountability. If you don’t say anything, no one knows and you are all on your own. If you don’t open up to someone and say you are struggling with negative thoughts like x, y, and z then no one will know and no one will help. And when it comes to addictions we usually like them right where they are, in secret. We know, though, in secret is where things fester, in the dark is where things mold. We cannot stay in this place for long, eventually it will take its toll.
Once you hear yourself think something negative try to snap into what the positive at least would be, in the beginning you may not believe it to be true but saying it is taking up brain energy leaving no room to think about the opposite. Writing out the truths or saying them out loud. Spending time with someone willing to open up about their mental addictions so you can encourage each other. There is light, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and that light is Jesus, its never been anything but Jesus.
I pray you become aware, I pray you want to change, I pray you allow yourself to love yourself enough to do something about the self-abusive mental addictions. I pray you let someone in. I pray you address every last lie Satan has embedded into your brain and I pray you reach deep inside, deep into your soul and find who God intended you to be, be her, love her and don’t let any negative thought slow you down from what God is asking you to do!!
Here are some scriptures to help.
Romans 12:2– Do not be conformed to the patterns of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Psalms 119:107– I am greatly afflicted; renew and revive me [giving me life] O Lord, according to your word.
Psalms 51:10– Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right and steadfast spirit within me.
2 Timothy 1:7– For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear but of power and of love and of sound judgement and personal discipline [abilities that result in a well-balanced mind and self-control].