For many of us, the holiday season is rife with difficult situations. Whether it is cranky relatives, abusive boyfriends, active addicts or the overwhelming loneliness of the season, each of us must face the catalyst of our individual pain and deal with it accordingly. If we turn to alcohol or drugs, gambling or lovers, compulsive shopping or worse, it is crucial to re-examine our decisions that bring us to this very moment.
Unfortunately, life throws all of us curve balls and how we deal with them marks the development of our strength and integrity. Helplessness is woven into the very fabric of human experience. When we fail to deal with life’s pain and loss, problems arise. Some develop addictions to stamp out their overwhelming burdens or hide from their past. Others seek affairs and embrace the external attention and excitement so that they can flee their depression or self-deception. Some fall into co-dependency, using passive aggressive patterns to express their anger. Some embrace being the victim or vice versa the hero so that they can justify their dishonesty.
Unfortunately, all addictive behaviors lead to a rush of dopamine in the brain inducing euphoria and the let down of those secretive interactions set up a psychological chain of stimulus/response events which strengthens addictions…thus the reason why most people cannot change. The physiological response leads them to the slippery slope of denial, guilt and deception that takes enormous effort and grace to overcome. And those who are in recovery have my greatest respect including my brother and many of my friends.
The beauty of Recovery programs, family therapy and even many religious practices is that they hold us accountable for our bad behavior and give us the community and tools to deal with emotional pain which, for many, lead to dishonesty, addiction or worse. These programs and religious paths force us to look at our denial that justifies our actions…actions that hurt others and ourselves. They hold the mirror up to us so that we can no longer blame others, the past, the present or anything else for our bad behavior. They acknowledge our shortcomings and ask us to make amends with those we’ve wronged. But more importantly, they encourage us to take a moral inventory of all our actions and their impact. We see this concept not only in Alcoholics Anonymous but also in the High Holy Days of Judaism and Christian reflection during Easter.
Radical honesty is not easy. It takes a moral courage that most do not have and will never have. It means living with the uncertainty of life and facing pain…because if we avoid either one, we flee into escapism, resulting in a snowball effect.
But our lives do improve enormously when we embrace honesty.
How do we do this?
- Realize in the beginning, honesty is hard and that lying comes from fear. In fact, most of us would rather live with the consequences of long-term dishonesty than the short-term pain of truth. Because lying is always self-serving. However, honesty heals when done in love. It requires us to be responsible for our actions and words and to face our hardest struggles.
With warmest wishes from all of us at Focus Direction Recovery