And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. Phil 1:6-7
For twenty plus years I tried to change my behavior. It produced only one thing—shame—and then unattainable perfectionism. This end result is common among those who’s childhood is marked with psychological, emotional and even spiritually abusive environments. Teachable moments become opportunity for criticism and ridicule.
Growing up in church, ‘change your behavior’ was all I ever heard. Sometimes we grow up believing, regardless of whether that involves religious teaching or not, that nothing we can do will ever be good enough—because we learn that it never is. The shame that ensues is inevitable, a predicted result.
People who experience all kinds of traumas and adverse experiences that impact their behaviors, addictions, depression, anxiety, etc. They are relieved to learn that getting to the root of the problem and the need related to the addictive medium: drugs, alcohol, pornography, will be the course of action. It is vital to move the focus from the addiction toward the pain, the wound, or the fear of success or failure that is driving the method of escape or creating pleasure in life to mask the pain.
I would not ask WHAT you are doing, but WHY—what emotion, pain, or confusion is it that drives you to something that only produces shame and regret. Whatever that is, bring God into that. With him in the middle of the pain or unmet need, he will heal and you will feel his love for you. He died for that shame. He will help you see the value that he sees in you.
Jenelle received her MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Grace College, Indiana, an MS in Education from Ohio University, and a BS in Education from Central Michigan University. Science and experience has moved her from a behavior change model to a one that focuses on the healing of psychological injury through a therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR.