Hosted by Jodi Hildebrandt.
This is part 2 of a two-part series. Listen to Part 1 >
What are the common signs of addiction? How do people talk and present themselves when addiction or addictive behaviors are present? What is the difference between addictive behaviors, vs a full-blown ADDICTION? In this episode, Jodi explains the signs, patterns and presentations of addiction.
If you want to know whether you or your loved one is moving towards addiction, please don’t wait until the consequences have mounted so large that you can’t ignore them. Learn the signs and symptoms of a developing addiction, and ADDRESS IT before it gets out of control. If addressed early (before they become full-blown, out-of-control addictions), addictive behaviors and patterns are far, far easier to resolve.
PDF Version: Episode 78: Recognizing Addiction (Part 2 of 2)
Episode 78: Recognizing Addiction (Part 2 of 2)
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[00:02:46] Recognizing Addiction Part 2 of 2
Welcome back. This is the second part to helping you understand what addiction is, how it gets created, and what the signs, and language, and behavioral evidences of addictive behaviors look like and sound like.
This second part is going to talk about what are some of the common signs and the ways that people talk or how they present to you when they’re engaging in addictive behaviors—or someone who actually has an addiction.
So, there is a different between addictive behavior—somebody who engages in something in a way that causes them to relax, or calm down,or feel better about their situation. But those people who are acting addictively, like in behaviors, they’re willing to be open. They’re also willing to accept feedback, they’re willing to be humble, and to critique their behaviors. And so, they don’t go into full-on addictive patterns of behaviors where they shut down, they disconnect, and they are overtly or covertly aggressive. They just have temporarily engaged in behavioral patterns that are temporarily “solving” the issue. AND, they’re open to seeing how that’s not helpful, how they’re in a bit of a distortion. And so, they still are open, and responsible, and humble to change.
Someone who’s in an actual addiction doesn’t do that. They have very steep patterns of behavior and they protect them through lying, and hiding, and secrecy.
[00:05:10] Hallmarks of Addiction
When someone has an addiction, there are two things that I’ve identified over the years that, when someone is in full-blown addictive behavior—like has an addiction—like that is how they “manage” their life, is through activating these behavioral choices.
There are two characteristics that are always present and I call them the hallmarks. And that is, they are masterful liars. They are masterful at manipulation. And with that masterful manipulation, that masterful lying, comes incredible selfishness. Those two things are the hallmarks of addiction.
So, everything centers around their lying and their selfishness.
I want to talk about selfishness for a minute. These are not separate characteristics, they all bleed into each other. I mean, when I’m being dishonest, I’m also being selfish. When I’m being selfish, I’m being dishonest. So, they’re not separate from each other. But I want to try to describe them separately so that you can see what they sound like and what they look like.
So, selfishness: another word for selfishness is lustful behavior, acting in a lustful manner. So, oftentimes the word lust is connected to some kind of sexual experience, and that is actually not the full definition of the word lust. Lust is about coveting. Lust is about being selfish. Lust is about taking. It’s about doing whatever I need to do to get what I want. That is lustful behavior.
You don’t recognize that someone is going to be negatively influenced or affected when you’re in a lustful position. The only thing you’re looking at is what I want and what I need to do to get there.
So, lust is another word for selfishness.
Inside any addiction there is lust. Just like there is lying.
Other Characteristics of Addiction
All of the things that I’m going to talk about now support the lying and the selfishness to continue. So, I’m going to go through characteristics that are created because I engage in dishonest, manipulative, and selfish behavior.
So, this is the stuff that comes as a result of me being lustful and dishonest or deceptive.
- •.Secrets come. These are common signs that you’re looking for in yourself or someone else, to identify whether they have addiction going on.
Secrets: they will tell stories, like they’ll just make stuff up. You’ll be sitting there talking to them and they’ll just say, “Well, I can’t mow the lawn today because the grass is wet and if you mow the lawn when the grass is wet, it will destroy the lawn mower.”
And you’re looking at them, going, “So, when did you become an expert on lawn mowing at 15 years old?”
And they say, “Well, I read it online, and yeah, it’s just not good for the lawn mower to mow the grass when it’s wet, and unfortunately our grass is wet outside, and so I can’t mow the lawn.”
They just make this stuff up, and if you are not awake and conscious, you’ll buy right into it. You’ll enable them to continue in their storytelling.
- •.So, denial his the outcome of this lustful, selfish, dishonest behavior.
- •.Anger (and this can be covert or overt anger and aggression).
- •.A lack of humility.
- •.They will not listen.
- •.They’re not willing to look at themselves. And if they do look at themselves, they’re not doing it in honesty, they’re just doing it to comply. They’re doing it to get you off their back.
- •.They will not be honest about life, and when they do get honest, they won’t hold themselves accountable. Like, they’ll drop responsibility. They might verbally tell you something that is the Truth, however whenever someone tells themselves the Truth, they’re always going to be asked to be responsible.
[00:09:57] Examples of Denial Behaviors
Here are some examples of denial behaviors. These next handful of characteristics are all about denying.
They will exaggerate. Exaggeration means that they amplify their manipulation, or their blame, or their victim. They exaggerate the facts by distorting them. They’ll say things like, “The party is totally ruined.” Or they’ll say, “If I have to do this I’m going to die.” They’ll just exaggerate, and so they’re trying to elicit a distraction in you, so that you will be distracted enough to not hold them accountable for what they’ve been asked to follow through with.
They will engage in either/or thinking. So, they’ll try to avoid being vulnerable or responsible by reducing situations to two simple options. And they’ll say things like this, “If my cold isn’t gone tomorrow, I won’t be able to exercise.” That’s either/or.
Now, those of you who are listening to this, you probably know that sometimes when you have a cold, you still can exercise and sometimes it’s even really good to exercise when you have a cold, because it can kind of flush the virus out of your system—as long as it’s a particular kind of cold.
Or they’ll say something like, “I just can’t handle all this stress. I’m canceling all of my commitments.” So, it’s very black and white thinking.
They will sound very entitled, thinking that they deserve things. They’ll have thoughts of resentments when things don’t go their way. Or when others don’t act the way that they want them to. So, they’ll say things like, “I’ve been good for a week so I deserve this.” Or, “How dare that jerk drive the speed limit in the fast lane?” They feel entitled to have whatever they want.
They’ll show up in ways which is called Victim Thinking. They’ll portray themselves as powerless or as an innocent sufferer with no responsibility. They’ll say things like, “They are intentionally snubbing me by not inviting me to Thanksgiving.” That’s a victim statement.
They’ll engage in rationalizing behaviors. They’ll deny responsibility for themselves or give mounting evidence of their problems, refusing to think about things that invite vulnerability and accountability into their life.
So, they’ll say, “If she were more affectionate, I would want to spend more time at home.” So, they’re rationalizing why they don’t want to spend more time at home because it’s about this other person not doing what they think they should.
Or they’ll say, “Credit card debt is mounting so I don’t look at the bills.” That gives them a rational reason to not pay attention to the bills and not be responsible for the bills because their credit card debt is mounting and that will just be too uncomfortable for me to acknowledge.
They’ll engage in blaming behavior, and blame looks like this: they avoid responsibility and they’ll avoid being vulnerable by shifting accountability entirely onto someone else. They’ll say things like, “You make me feel worthless.” Or, “Because of you, I can’t do this.”
They’ll engage in things of comparison, using others—or anything—rather than telling themselves the Truth about what’s going on. They’ll often use others or things to self-justify. They’ll say things like, “It’s not fair that he makes more than I do.” So, they’ll compare. Or, “I’m not as attractive as the other guys and girls, so there’s no way I’ll find love.” Or, “I’m smarter than these people, so I can handle more freedom. I should be able to have more available to me because I’m smarter than them.” That’s an act of comparison.
They’ll go into compartmentalizing, justifying their choices by claiming special circumstances. “I only look at pornography when I’m on the road and it won’t affect the spirit in my home.” “I only binge shop when I have special time with my friends.” So, it’s like, it’s okay for me to go and spend a bunch of money because I’m with my friends. It’s like this circumstance won’t affect another circumstance, so that’s called compartmentalizing.
They will minimize. They will manipulate their conscience by using words that distort the true picture or omit details in a self-serving way. “I didn’t lie, I just withheld information.”
There are other ways that we can use denial. We can justify, we can create distractions. Distractions are I try to avert your attention away from my behavior because I don’t want to be accountable for my behavior, so I start making up funny stories, or maybe I get really angry. Anything to avert your attention from focusing on what I’m doing.
So, those are just a handful of behaviors that the person is using to support their masterful manipulation, their masterful lying, and their selfishness. Another way to say that is, when I engage in selfish, lustful, dishonest behaviors, I will act out in these ways that I just described.
Now, people want to have very specific examples of how their loved ones or—maybe they—would behave, and there’s no way in the world for someone to give you that kind of list because there are so many different manifestations of denial, so many ways that you can rationalize, and minimize, and justify, and show up in covert or overt anger or aggression. You as the person who is interested in knowing whether you or someone else is in addiction must really learn about all of those characteristics that I just described. You must learn about them.
And so, it’s one of the reasons why I’ve done so many podcasts. I have talked so much and in great, great detail about all of those positions that I just shared with you.
So, I would encourage you to go back and listen to different podcasts, podcasts on resentments, podcasts on denial, podcasts on manipulation, so you start learning many different ways for the human family to show up in those destructive behaviors. y
So, the last podcast we talked about, these are the behaviors that people exhibit when they’re vulnerable to addiction. The first one being that they’re not Truthful. The second one being, they don’t hold boundaries and they don’t honor boundaries, their own boundaries or others’. They hold resentments and they are full of expectations that they won’t be responsible for. And then, the fifth one is that they just won’t be accountable for their own choices.
And when someone shows up like that, they will be exhibiting signs that they are either inside of an addiction or they are moving towards addiction or addictive patterns, and these other behaviors will start showing up, like aggression, and denial, and additional dishonesty, and selfishness, and manipulation.
So, I can sit with someone—even a kid—I can watch a kid at 10 years old or 7 years old who is a masterful liar, and at seven years old, they don’t understand the consequences of what they’re doing, and sometimes the parents are like, “Well, I know they’re lying but I don’t want to upset them, so I won’t confront them.” I’m like, “If you don’t confront them at seven about the dangers of what they’re doing, they will be seventeen soon, and it will be almost impossible to get their attention at that point.”
And so, no matter what the age of the child, you must confront dishonest and irresponsible behaviors. You must, you must, you must. Don’t let that stuff go.
The other thing that I want to underscore is, a lot of times, people will look for the actual acting-out behavior, like they want to see the porn, they want to see the drugs, they want to prove that they have an addiction or that their loved one is addicted, so they’re like waiting to have some evidence. And what I’m here to tell you is that that physical, tangible experience that you’re waiting for is not the evidence. That is the outcome of the evidence. That may not manifest to you for decades. You may not see the porn for decades because the person is so good at hiding and lying. You may not see that this person has a gambling problem or a drinking problem until their frontal lobe is so damaged that they can’t heal from it.
Don’t wait for the outcomes to show themselves before you go, “Oh, they have an addiction.” That is not the evidence. The evidence is all the stuff I just described to you: the hiding, the lying, the manipulation, the anger, the denial, the unwillingness to be humble, the dishonesty, the selfishness, the storytelling, the secrets. All of that is the evidence that they are either moving into addictive patterns or they are in it.
The evidence of an addiction being present is about the selfishness and the lying. All manners of selfishness and lying. All of it, it’s not just I’m lying about whether I look at porn. It’s, I lie. Like, I have a pattern of lying. It doesn’t matter what I’m talking about. It’s like, I go to the drive-thru and I say, “Do you want hot or mild salsa?” And I’m not honest. I say I like mild salsa because I’m afraid I might hurt the woman’s feelings who’s serving me in the drive-thru, so I don’t tell them the Truth about what I’d really like, because I might say, “I’d like mild.” Or maybe I say, “I want hot salsa.” And they say, “Well, we’re out of that.” And I say, “Well, that’s okay. It’s okay if you give me mild salsa, I really like that better.” And it’s just not the Truth.
Instead of being vulnerable and saying, “Oh shoot, that’s disappointing. I’ll try the mild.” I lie to myself and say, “I really didn’t want hot anyways, I wanted mild.” It’s just not honest. And it looks so benign but it’s the fact that I’m willing to not show up in the Truth for myself.
Even though you may not see—like I said—the outcomes of the addiction, like the porn, the drugs, the gambling. The obvious ones, the things that are obvious like someone might be addicted to video gaming. We can be acting out compulsively to or with anything. And so, you want to look for—like I said—the selfishness, and the lying, the entitlement.
The lying and selfishness are the hallmarks that create a numbness in a person. They create a numbness because this is the way that we disconnect from Reality. When we are being selfish and we are engaging in dishonest and irresponsible behavior, we disconnect from compassion, from Truth, from love, from empathy, from joy, from validation, from vulnerability, and connection.
People who are caught in lying and selfishness will develop and live inside addictive patterns. They will. If they’re not willing to humble themselves and realize that their selfishness, their entitlement, their manipulation, their dishonesty is going on, that is the evidence to you that they will create an addiction.
That’s what I’m saying, is I can be working with a thirteen or fourteen-year-old and if they refuse to take responsibility for themselves, I’ll turn to the parent when the kids out of the room and say, “They’re in danger. They either are inside of an addiction already or they are going to have one very soon because they refuse to be honest. They refuse to take responsibility for themselves. They have no humility. They’re not open, they’re not transparent. They don’t have compassion for themselves or anyone else. They’re unwilling to be honest. And when they’re showing up that way, they are disconnected.”
Though they might be appearing like they’re being compassionate and doing things that look compassionate, they lack the depth of emotion because the reason why they’re showing up in manipulative, dishonest, and selfish ways is because they are afraid/unwilling to feel emotions. They can’t express their emotions. And they’re afraid that when they feel emotion, that it’s going to hurt them. And so, they try so suppress it.
The other thing about why they’re afraid of feeling their emotion is that there’s distortion connected to their emotion. Like, if I own what I’ve done, then I’ll have to be responsible for it, and when I’m responsible for it and I’m honest about it, then my distortion will tell me I’m bad. And so, they’re trying to safeguard themselves from feeling shame, feeling their false beliefs, which are always the lie.
So, people who are addictive have an inability to connect with their own and others’ emotions. Though they may appear that they’re connected because they do many things that are helpful and appear kind, they aren’t being driven from a place of compassion and connection. They’re being drive to do those things by a place of obligation and compliance. This is one of the presentations of the evidence that addiction and addictive behavior are present.
The other presentation is more obvious, like, the aggression. So, lying and selfishness are still at the helm, yet there’s two different presentations. One is helpful and kind, yet they’re doing so in compliance.
And the other presentation is one of aggression, like open aggression, anger, blame, entitlement.
Both of these presentations of disconnect are real. It’s just that the presentation of the disconnect when someone appears helpful, nice, and kind, versus when they are genuinely not. They just appear that way.
The only way someone will notice what is driving their motives for their behavior would be for them to inquire and ask themselves like what’s motivating me? Or for you to ask them, what’s motivating you to behave in this way? You appear helpful.
However, are you helpful because you feel compassion? You feel badly? You feel a desire to help? You feel empathy for someone? Or is it because you just should? It’s because that’s what good people do?
Okay? So, there’s two presentations. One shows up as the really nice, helpful, kind person. Yet manipulation, and lying, and selfishness is still under the surface. Or I can present as more obvious, like aggressive, and just openly selfish, and blaming. That one’s a little bit easier to see.
So, if you don’t know, then ask them—press them. Press them to get connected to their emotions. Their disconnect will begin to show through as you ask them to share their vulnerability. As you ask them to show why and what is driving them to do the things they’re doing, they’ll probably become defensive and possibly angry or blaming.
And most obviously, they won’t be able to feel why they are doing what they’re doing. The ability to experience compassion, or empathy, or vulnerability, or concern for another will not be present. They will be very intellectual and they’ll have a void of emotions. So, look for that void of emotion. Look for the inability to connect with empathy to another person. That’s another indicator that someone’s in danger. That is more evidence that there’s disconnect and therefore dishonesty present. There’s a lack of humility.
So, I can’t say this enough: please, please don’t wait until you catch them acting out to know they have an addiction. That could take decades, and in the interim, thousands of moments and hundreds of days of disconnect, and lying, and selfish behaviors have been perpetrated upon others. Especially kids.
And the life-damaging consequences of years of acting-out behavior and the emotional ravaging and confusion that has taken place as a result of living inside of a relationship with this dishonesty and selfishness, the damage has already been done. And the next generation—the children—have been taught inside this environment, inside this relationship, to disconnect, which then will perpetuate those children into their own addictions, into their own distorted thoughts, and their own distorted behaviors as they become the next generation of adults and the next generation of parents teaching their children. They’ll teach them to do the same things that they were taught to do, which is disconnect, so don’t wait until you have this clear evidence like “aha, I caught ya,” okay? Recognize these behaviors, get curious about these behaviors, confront these behaviors because we need to wake up and stop this plague of selfishness and dishonesty from spreading. Be conscious, be willing to confront dishonest behaviors and choices in your children and in the adults that you have relationships with. Confront yourself. Be sophisticated to the science of addiction.
I’m going to say this again: the acting out of pornography and drugs or any other obvious addictive behavior is not the addiction. It’s not the addiction. That’s just the outcome of the addiction. That’s the evidence that addiction is present, so don’t be foolish and wait until it’s so obvious that then the destruction is all around you. Notice the signs. Be wise. Be alert. Be willing to confront all of your loves ones if you see any indicators of selfishness, entitlement, dishonesty, lack of personal responsibility, lack of humility, lack of openness, lack of vulnerability. These are clear signs that addiction is either being created or it’s present. You just can’t see the behavioral evidence of its outcomes yet. Yet. You will see it one day, and if you wait for that day, you’ve got a lot of destructive wake that you have enabled.
So, like a needle in your daughter’s arm, when you see the needle in your daughter’s arm, that could be when she’s almost ready to die. Or you catch your son looking at porn. Or your bank account is diminished from your spouse’s gambling addiction. By that point, once you actually see it, there has been so much destruction, and lying, and hiding, and anger, and selfishness that’s gone on, that it is so much more difficult to clean that up at that point.
So, don’t wait until you see those kinds of signs. Stop this behavior way before this type of devastation afflicts you and your family. Be bold. Be willing to love the people that you say you love in such a way that you will confront any behavior, any thought, any perception that invites or includes dishonesty. If you hear your child being dishonest, confront them. Invite them into the Truth. Get curious about why they’re being dishonest. Ask them why they would choose to tell a story instead of being honest. Hold them accountable.
If you see them being irresponsible, if you see them breaking their commitments, don’t just let those things go. Help them understand the importance of honesty and being accountable for themselves. Help them understand that their unwillingness to be open and humble is dangerous.
These are your markers to look for. Don’t minimize or deny them in yourself or others. Being able to confront these things will keep you safe inside your own integrity and will invite others to be safe inside their own integrity.
Why Can You Be Addicted To Anything?
So, another question: why can you be addicted to so many things? The reason why you can be addicted to anything is because I’m trying to control. Control what? Control anything, anyone. Control my own feelings, control your feelings. Control your perception and control my own perception. Anything that would or could make me feel uncomfortable, or cause me to acknowledge the Truth, or cause me to be honest about my experience. Anything like that, I refuse to get into the Truth around, I will try to control, because I will not allow the Reality, the Reality to influence my reality. So, I will exploit my own feelings, I’ll exploit the Reality, I’ll exploit anything. I’ll exploit people if I have to, to keep the Reality away from me, so I don’t have to experience it.
I won’t be honest or responsible for it, and that’s how I can become addicted to so many things, like I can become addicted to people, and behaviors, and substances, and attitudes. It’s all about control and distraction.
[00:35:57] Last Question
So, last question: why do people have a difficult time stopping addictive behaviors and compulsions? There are two basic reasons.
One is that I develop neurological pathways in my brain. So, I develop habits.
Number two, I don’t know how, or I’m unwilling to be honest, responsible, and humble.
So, habits: I develop a way of life and in that way of life as I develop these habits of being dishonest, I develop pathways, and these pathways I keep going back to. And if I engage in dishonest, irresponsible behavior, then I start becoming disconnected from the Truth, from empathy, from my vulnerablity and I will become numb. I will become numb. I won’t feel.
So, when someone confronts me, I either won’t care or I’ll get angry, and my anger is a sign to them to back off.
So, normally, I will react, and deny, and push back. Okay? If I were connected. And so, when I get numb I don’t need to push back, I can just show up numb. So, these pathways that are going on in my brain keep inviting me to come back to a place of disconnect.
So, I need someone to hold the Reality in front of me. I need someone to be honest and invite me into personal responsibility. I need that because in order for me to get well, which means in order for me to connect again, I have to heal these pathways in my brain, because whenever I get uncomfortable, whenever I feel something that’s uncomfortable, I just very “naturally” fall back into: lie, or manipulate, or distract, or control.
So, I need someone to teach me how to stop doing that. And as I learn to stop doing that, if I’m willing to stop doing that, those grooves in my brain will start healing and I will create new neurological pathways.
So, I need someone to teach me how to be honest, and responsible, and humble. I might have come from a childhood where I was being enabled to be dishonest. Maybe I came from a childhood where I saw allowed to be entitled and no one ever told me that I needed to play nice with other kids, so I grew up into an adult that was entitled because no one held me accountable. So, I don’t really appreciate how inappropriate my behaviors and my choices are. So, I need someone, preferably many people, to hold a reflective mirror up to me, so I can have an opportunity to choose to change or not. I can have an opportunity—because if I never have someone put that in front of my face, I don’t know that there’s a different choice to make, so I really am wanting to have an opportunity to make a different choice.
3If I’m in a relationship and someone’s not enabling me to stay in distortion I still could choose not to change, right? So, there’s plenty of people that I work with that as I invite them to change, they don’t want to. And my relationship with them, though I’m not enabling them, just ticks them off.
And so, at some point you have to choose to surrender them, you have to let them go. You’re not responsible for them. At some point, and this is your decision, it might be months, it might be years, but at some point you have to choose how long and how much effort you’re willing to place into inviting them into being honest, and responsible, and humble. And then, you have to surrender them and their choices to God or a Higher Power.
Can everyone change their behavior? That is a resounding YES. Yes.
Will they choose to change their behavior? Well, that’s up to each person’s choices.
And everyone can change. Everyone can be whole, everyone can learn how to be honest, everyone can choose to be responsible and learn how to connect, regardless of what has either happened to them from their own choices or what has happened to them because of others’ choices. Everyone can choose to be connected.
So, please those of who you are listening to me this morning, look at all of your other relationships, beginning with yourself, and see if there is anything that’s dishonest, entitled, selfish. If there are attitudes or behaviors that are not responsible, that people—or you—are not being accountable for your own thoughts, and feelings, and choices. If you see a lack of vulnerability or numbness, confront those destructive behaviors. Don’t minimize them, don’t enable them, don’t ignore them. Those are the telltale signs of disconnect. Disconnect from Truth, disconnect from Reality, disconnect from God, from being honest, disconnect from being responsible to self and others.
Be diligent. Be awake and don’t allow for disconnect to be present around you. Please confront it.
When someone is in an addictive behavior, confront it. It is the only way that that person has an opportunity to humble themselves and change. If they’re in a disconnected spot, they might react and resist the invitation to look at themselves, to be honest, and responsible, and humble. They might do that, but don’t ignore it.
These things that we’ve just talked about are your indicators that addiction is either being created or it is present. So, stay conscious with yourself and your loved ones, and continue to invite them into connection.[ENDS]
See the following materials for more in-depth study of the topics in this podcast: