Behaviors equal unmet needs, and addictions are at the top of the list of cries for help. Understanding the need not only helps soothe the person suffering, it also digs up the root in order to be replanted in healthier soil.
Acceptance. Acknowledgement. Encouragement. There has never been a person living nor will there ever be one who doesn’t desire to be accepted, acknowledged and encouraged for who they are as an individual. It’s when any of those basic needs are not met that a person will reach out to the first place he can find to fit in. Whether it be a church, a gang, drugs, food, sex, games or alcohol, when someone feels lost and unloved they will search until they find anything that feels right to fill that void. When we dig a little deeper, however, we can trace the source of most addictions back to a lack of communication. If love is not expressed in a way the person is capable of understanding or receiving it, the search is on. Here are a few scenarios to help make this concept a little more clear.
1. Unfulfilled relationships with parents
Life is all about learning, and the way the School of Life lessons are taught can either make or break a person. Everyone looks to her parents to help her form her identity, yet most parents are teaching on a system which was handed down to them from their parents. Effective communication between parents and their children is one of the greatest lessons ever shared. It’s also one which is rarely ever studied in either school or life.
Parents, with no fault of their own, go through life implementing their own ideals and desires on their children without ever realizing their kids have a voice and a mind of their own. When children aren’t able to express themselves or their ideas, have every decision made for them or have no guidance whatsoever they begin to operate using a system based on a perceived lack of love, attention or worth. Because every person living was created to be accepted and be loved, children will instinctively begin to search for it anywhere they can find it if this basic need goes unmet. And so the cycle begins.
2. Unfulfilled relationship with a significant other
. If communication and self-worth issues go unresolved or stay buried throughout the formative years and carry into adulthood, those same issues will have no choice but to show up in any relationship that forms outside of the family dynamic. It’s not uncommon for people to turn to their mates for rescuing and void-filling acknowledgement. Then, what generally ends up happening is the addictive behaviors get worse since communication breaks down, and the need to bury the pain of what’s considered rejection increases. When there’s no verbal outlet for frustrations or disappointments, the allure of escape moves to the top of the list of ways to cope.
Lack of communication and lack of self-worth have a bond that is stronger than superglue. When a person internalizes her ideas, her fears, her pain or even her joy and has no outlet for expressing any of these thoughts, the chances of that person becoming an addict skyrocket. Without external feedback, whether positive or negative, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to function in life. Communication is the GPS of a person’s belief system. Until someone is able to use a device that’s properly calibrated that lost person will stop to get directions from the first place that looks attractive.
This is obviously the short list of many contributing factors to the pain behind an addiction. The best course of action for anyone struggling through, or even in the beginning stages, of a relationship with this type of behavior is to find a way to express oneself. Even if that person’s way of expression is not, in what most people would consider, the “healthiest,” do it anyway! This is no one’s business but the person who is hurting. The process is all about getting the pain, the thoughts and the self-abuse out of the person’s head to make room for even just one or two new positive thoughts – as difficult as that may be to comprehend.
Journaling is one of the most amazing and cheapest ways to get that process started. Writing out every single thing the person in pain has ever wanted to say to anyone who has ever wronged him, looked at him funny or even cut him off in traffic — and then destroying the pages so as to never have to see or deal with the pain again — can be far more powerful than years of talking with under-qualified friends or even some counselors. God has an uncanny way of revealing not only his true identity through pen and paper, but also the buried beauty of the person doing the writing. And the healing begins…
Danica Trebel is a mom to two AMAZING teenage sons, a recovering perfectionist and a Life and Family Dynamics Coach. She specializes in helping families tune up their relationships through perspective, communication and faith www.danicatrebel.com