Lying and deception are elements of addiction that become a means of self-protection. When you’re an addict, you don’t just lie to other people, like your friends and family; you also lie to yourself. Today we’ll explore how to stop lying to yourself.
Many of the lies you might tell yourself relate to the fact that your behavior and substance use is no longer in your control. It’s difficult to accept that you are out of control and have lost willpower, but that’s precisely what happens in drug or alcohol addiction.
When you lie to yourself, it’s a psychological defense mechanism also known as rationalization. You can avoid correcting unacceptable behaviors in your life when you continue to lie about reality.
Changing your perspective on mental health is not easy; learning to stop lying to yourself is one of the initial and perhaps most important steps you can take on your path to recovery, but it can also be one of the hardest.
As humans, even outside of addiction, we may fall victim to self-deception because there’s a good chance we’re emotionally attached to our beliefs. We can then begin to identify ourselves with our thoughts. You want to convince yourself of something so severely so that you can then persuade others.
When self-deception takes hold, you lose self-perception and self-understanding. Then you’re not able to take responsibility for your actions. You can’t ever be free in your life as long as your psychology of self-deception continues.
There are different types of self-deception.
- Denial is common in addiction. Denial means you aren’t willing or recognize the actual events or things happening around you.
- Another type of self-deception is minimization, meaning you might lie to yourself to reduce the extent of an issue or the severity.
- There’s a third form of deceiving yourself—rationalization. Rationalization lets you excuse yourself from blame in whatever situation you’re facing.
Lies You Tell Yourself
If you’re dealing with drug or alcohol addiction, you may realize the following kind of lies are what you may have told yourself in order to feel good. These are common forms of self-deception amongst substance abusers.
I’m Not An Addict
You may tell yourself you’re not an addict and you don’t have an addiction. Maybe you tell yourself you just enjoy a drink, or you use drugs recreationally, but it’s nothing more than that. To admit to yourself that you are an addict will be your first step on the road to recovery.
I Can Stop When I Want To
When you tell yourself you can stop drinking or using drugs whenever you want, you’re covering up that you aren’t in control. You’ve probably tried before and been unsuccessful, but you’ve still convinced yourself that your substance use is within your control.
Understand that, along with admitting to yourself that you can’t stop addiction, is a physical and psychological disorder. It’s not a moral failure to not be able to stop using. You need treatment, as does anyone with a medical condition.
The Consequences Aren’t My Fault
Let’s say you get a DUI and you tell yourself it isn’t your fault, and you may even blame someone else. Someone in active addiction will deflect blame to protect themselves and keep up their lies. Maybe the cops were targeting you, for example.
I’m Facing a Lot of Stress—I Just Need to Relax
Addicts will tell themselves that rather than having an addiction, they need to drink or use drugs to help them with the stress of their lives. You’ll give yourself a host of reasons as to why you need to use substances.
I’m Only Affecting Myself
You may want to shield yourself from the reality of your substance use by telling yourself just you’re affected. You probably don’t even see how it affects your friends, family, and even your children. You might not see how your personality or moods change or how you can’t keep up with responsibilities in your daily life.
I’m Not Like ____
Another form of denial and deflection you may see as part of your self-deception is comparing yourself to other addicts who you see as “worse” than you. For example, you might tell yourself you’re okay because another person gets much drunker than you.
The reality is, addiction is a progressively worsening disease without treatment.
I’m Still Great at My Job, So I Can’t Be That Bad
We tend to associate an alcoholic or drug addict with a specific picture in our minds. Just because you aren’t that person, you see, when you envision an addict, doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem. There’s a term, functional alcoholic, and it can even apply to people who use other substances. You may be performing well at your job and holding it all together for the most part, but you’re still lying to yourself.
There’s a deep sense of denial in functional addicts because they haven’t yet encountered the total weight of the consequences. You can lie to yourself even more quickly in this stage of addiction.
Learning How to Stop Lying to Yourself
Learning more about addiction and the signs can help you learn how to stop lying to yourself. Signs of addiction can include:
- A lack of control over your substance use, such as wanting to quit but not being able to
- Spending a lot of your time getting the substance or using it
- A loss of interest in other parts of your life
- Social withdrawal—for example, you might neglect relationships or other commitments
- You ignore the risk factors and consequences
- Physical symptoms such as cravings or withdrawal
If you feel that nagging feeling beneath your self-deception that there is a problem, pause. Quiet your mind so that you can dig a little deeper and see what’s going on. Begin to examine yourself. When you admit your limitations or an issue, you can start to see the consequences more clearly.
A big part of learning how to stop lying to yourself once you’ve realized you’re doing it is to face your fears. What do you need to do to make a change? What fear do you need to face directly?
It’s human nature to spend our lives creating a certain image of ourselves. Even when you aren’t dealing with addiction, you’ll often attribute successes to your skills or hard work and failures to things outside of your control. In addition, this becomes a profoundly damaging cycle.
Admitting an issue and lying to yourself can shatter your ego, which is an integral part of recovery. You acknowledge that you aren’t in control, but only by taking that step can you move on to the next ones. To learn more about treatment options at the Mental Health Center of San Diego, call (858) 258-9883 today!