What is it about the human condition that causes us to continue engaging self-destructive behaviors? Why will we continue to seek out the very things that destroy us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally? This is an age old question that I pose. There is a statement in the Bible, found in Romans 7:15, which reads “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” As far as I know, we are the only creatures on earth that will engage in behaviors that have no benefit to us but rather cause us harm such as over eating, over indulging in alcohol, using dangerous, addictive drugs, having unprotected sex, lying, stealing, killing, committing suicide, starving ourselves, cutting ourselves, etc.
We all struggle with self-destructive behaviors maybe not the ones listed above, maybe more subtle things like spending too much money on things we do not need, making poor choices or self-sabotaging due to fear of success, or maintaining superficial relationships out of fear of letting anyone “get to close.” I believe the human condition is such that we are always longing to be whole and complete and we are constantly seeking that out in many different ways (usually unhealthy ways). Once we come to understand this, we are heading down the right path towards healing and freedom.
For years I have witnessed folks give me the same look of confusion when I tell them it is ok for them to not be ok. Yet that look of confusion usually transforms into a look of relief once they realize that they can take their “mask” off and be real without fear of judgment. I believe that is one of the most important components of the counseling relationship. As a counselor, I need to be a safe place. I need to accept each person as they are and allow them to take off the mask they wear day in and day out. Many times that 50 minutes a week that we spend together is the only time they actually take the mask off. During the counseling process, I encourage each person to take risks and allow themselves to be vulnerable with those they are closest to so that they can experience true relationship outside of therapy.
True relationship/connection only happens when we are able to be real. Not only being real with others, but allowing others to be raw and real with us. This requires deep trust that may have to be developed over time. While I do not recommend running around and being “raw” and “real” with everyone you come in contact with; I do suggest you engage in at least one real, reciprocal relationship. Allow yourself to be honest and vulnerable with just one person that you consider safe (someone that will keep you secrets, secret and not judge you). In addition, place yourself in position to be the “safe-person”. This will be life changing
Are you lacking genuine relationships built on deep trust and vulnerability? If you answered yes, I assure you engaging in self-destructive behaviors will never fill that void, that longing to be whole and complete, accepted and loved. That longing cannot be filled in any other way than through genuine relationships, genuine relationship with God and others.