You Are Not Who You Are Tempted To Be.
How do you interpret the issues you wrestle with? Our trials and temptations are never solely about the “object” of our ordeal, whether that be money, pleasure, loss, or persecution. In other words, the blow goes deeper than simply removing the obstacle. We need to understand that something deeper is at work within us or perhaps even against us. Whenever we face adversity, we are dealing with an assault on our identities. Few things are as dangerous as an attack on our identities, as the words we use to describe ourselves have the power to shape our behaviors and, more importantly, our hearts.
Oftentimes, we don’t make any effort to refute what comes against us and, instead, internalize the message. There is an incredible amount of dissonance when we think about ourselves one way, yet act in another. It is seemingly easier to succumb to the label of being a certain way, and in doing so, excuse yourself to act accordingly. Do you see the agreement there?
Now, some will contend that the first step to recovery is admitting there is a problem, i.e. saying, “I am an addict.” There is helpfulness and healing in being honest about our weaknesses, but the difference has to do with the agreements we make in our heart. There is a distinction between saying “I’m an alcoholic” and yet working to avoid alcohol, versus saying, “I must be an alcoholic” and so excusing oneself to drink in excess. One is humble admittance, the other a justification. We have to beware of making the agreement that we are who we are tempted to be; that our primary identity is subjugated to the trials and temptations we face. The fruit of making such agreements does not lead to our freedom, but to captivity.
For example, if I walked into a convenience store and a temptation came to take a piece of candy without paying for it, I might think, “You’re a thief.” If I sincerely believe that to be the truest thing about myself in that moment, even before I’ve taken anything, chances are I’ll follow suit and take the candy. When we come to conclusions or make incorrect agreements about who we are, it shapes the person we will become. These false agreements about ourselves come in three general mindsets: the Idolater, the Criminal, and the Loser.
The Idolater mindset has made the agreement that something has mastered them. They justify indulgence and self-service since they view themselves as living to appease some craving. The Criminal mindset, on the other hand, has agreed that they are a violator of the law. This false self has the view that since they’ve already made a transgression, there is nothing to lose by continuing in the destructivity. Finally the Loser mindset concludes that they are powerless to change anything and that they deserve wrath. They will not fight against accusations or temptations because they have agreed that they are not able to withstand it.
Making one or any combination of the above agreements with the Idolater, the Criminal, or the Loser mindsets sets us into a perpetual routine that is incredibly difficult to change. But change is needed. Whether you’ve grown tired of being stuck in the rut, or are finding that the repercussions are wearing down those around you, help is available. Finding the agreements we make about ourselves is tricky business, and breaking them is even more difficult. Please, do not walk that road alone. Consider meeting with a counselor at The Cabin or seeking guidance from someone you trust. You’ll find that the victory and freedom from breaking agreements with false mindsets offers new life. You are not who you are tempted to be.
Bryan “Rob” Kern, MA, LMHCA