Can an unhealthy habit take the place of genuine human relationships? If so, how does this happen, and what can one do to change it?
Sometimes, a person who struggles with an unhealthy habit doesn’t connect because of a lack of experience. They don’t know how to interact with others—either they haven’t learned how, or their experiences have taught them it’s painful to connect.
Fear is present. What-ifs fill their mind. They begin to worry about things that are beyond their control. And pride leads them to feel that they don’t need to connect. Shame—either their own or put on them by someone else—keeps them from building relationships.
Addiction initially offers a fearless, safe, and shame-free connection. There are no expectations from using, and so the person who is addicted builds a relationship with the drug, alcohol, or substance they’re using instead of people, and addiction becomes their friend. But it doesn’t bring true satisfaction; eventually, it will lead to despair.
For someone stuck in addiction to connect with people in authentic, real relationships, there will be many things they will have to change. For example, to bond with others, genuine relationships will require humility.
There’s a famous saying hung in classrooms and playgrounds, and it reads, “Nobody act big; nobody act little; everybody act medium.” What’s valid for kids is also true for adults. If someone wants to connect with others, they will need to let go of their pride and set their ego aside to develop healthy relationships.
So, if disconnection is part of the problem, then connection will be part of the solution necessary for building relationships. Courage and perseverance will also play a role; a person in recovery must look at each experience as a learning experience.
A love for God and understanding how He loves each person uniquely will help a person stuck in addiction to create a love for others—joining a Life Recovery Group will also help. And so will surrendering their life to God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).
The rewards of connecting with God and others are eternal— building authentic relationships in one’s daily life will encourage recovery and healing.
For more help, listen to The Law of Connection CD.
By Steve Arterburn