Addiction is a disease that can consume every aspect of your life. It impacts you if you are actively trying to manage your addiction, and it impacts anyone around you–friends, family, co-workers, the list goes on. Addiction changes self-perception as well as the perception others may have of you. Regardless of the addiction being faced, there is one commonality with every one – dishonesty.
Lies can range from what we tell ourselves about our addiction, what we choose to tell others, or even lies that we have told ourselves so much that they are perceived as self-truths resulting in a false sense of honesty. Let’s break down the categories of lies that can be told and how to overcome them.
Lies that we tell ourselves.
Lying to ourselves has become a common practice to protect the way we see ourselves. It can also allow ourselves to maintain a clear conscience while acting immorally because we have reclassified the lie or rationalized it.
Lies you tell yourself are ‘rationalizations,’ and are a psychological defense mechanism. When struggling with addiction, you don’t want to believe the truth or believe that you are hurting yourself much less than others. Saying things like “I’m too young to quit,” “I’ll stop later on”, or “giving up [this addiction] means giving up on fun” are lies that you eventually begin to believe as your truth causing self-manipulation and self-damage. You are allowing yourself to deny the hold that addiction has on you. You are allowing yourself to deny that what you are doing may be wrong. This self-deception can lead to walls being put up to the truth of your addiction or the concern shared from others that you are lying too.
This self-deception is put on repeat. Repeating these lies over and over eventually lead to the illusion that this false information is your truth. It is important to focus on these rationalizations and recognize when you are using them. Once you begin to identify common phrases or excuses, it allows you to focus on how to eliminate those lies.
Lies viewed as truths.
The illusion of truth effect is very simple: people are more likely to believe something, the more often it is repeated to them. With repetition, it is easier for the human mind to process a statement relative to other competing ideas that have not been repeated over-and-over again. Repetition is used everywhere to persuade people, in advertising, politics and the media, and scientifically it works. Using repetition on yourself, is even easier and forms into this habit or addiction.
Because repetition impacts the perception of truth, continuous lying to yourself of what you are doing is wrong or dishonest, has been skewed as a truth that isn’t immoral. Why? Because you have conditioned yourself to believe that it is acceptable and not a true problem. Now that you believe it, the hope is that those around you believe it too. This ties in to the lies you tell yourself, due to the constant reiteration of these lies to yourself. So now, they aren’t perceived as lies anymore, but matter of fact statements or ideas.
Lies we tell others.
Just as you lie to yourself about your addiction, you pass those lies on to others around you for several reasons. Maybe you are looking to avoid punishment, to avoid being confronted or embarrassed, or even to avoid losing control. If you work to get others around you to believe the addiction isn’t a problem, then you are lying to them and yourself. This adds to the illusion that you might be able to keep going, creating more damage to yourself and hurting loved ones around you.
Overcoming the lies.
It can be hard to decipher when you are lying about your addiction or you may feel it’s so normal, that you can’t go back. The good news is that there are resources to help you overcome the lies of your addiction.
The journey may not be easy, but regardless, you don’t have to do it alone. Valley Oaks offers support to help you not only overcome your addiction, but to understand why you are lying about it to yourself and others. By working through some of the challenges you or someone you know may be facing, know that you are not alone, and there are resources to guide you down a path that provides you and your loved ones with the support you may need to overcome this.