Acting Out

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Acting Out

In the 12-step fellowship it’s common to hear a member with time say “Recently I’ve been acting out in old behavior”. By this they mean they’ve been acting out in some self-destructive behavior, this is common for addicts and alcoholics in recovery, after all we make mistakes, we are human. Thank God the program doesn’t hand out key tags for the last time we got angry or for the last time we hurt someone’s feelings, we’d probably all have about 30 minutes clean. And quite honestly, if we just acted out in that behavior yesterday, it’s not old.

The reason I believe some recovering addicts and alcoholics are so prone to self-destructive behavior is because deep down in our belief system, we may still believe that we aren’t good enough. We are still falling victim to the lie the disease tells us. The disease tells us that we don’t deserve to be happy, or we don’t deserve to be treated well. It might tell us “I’m not a good person” and “if anyone really got to know me they’d judge me and they’d surely run away from me”. This is why some people say “I’m addicted to chaos”, because when something worthwhile presents itself in our lives, we sabotage it because deep down we may believe we don’t deserve it.

“Acting out” just becomes an endless, self-perpetuating cycle. It’s the dog chasing it’s tail all over again. Think about it, If we walk around believing that we are not good enough, of course we will do things that support that belief, and every time we “act out” we are just reinforcing that belief about ourselves. We are actually continually sending ourselves a very clear message over and over again. The disease of addiction will settle for this. All of a sudden, our self-acceptance takes a huge hit and we start to care way too much about what other people think about us. Next, our self-worth plummets and we start judging ourselves and it feels like everyone is judging us, oh and that connection with our higher power just took a backseat. Slowly but surely the disease is all we hear. This is no better time to practice a step 1 with our sponsor, if we don’t, it won’t be long before we are isolated, paranoid, feeling all alone, consumed with self-pity, and literally caught in the grip of a self-destructive behavior. This is why we must work the steps with a sponsor. We need to reinforce the good beliefs we have about ourselves, not the bad ones. We need to send ourselves a different message