Articles Reb 19

Published on May 11th, 2017 | by Patricia Engler

12 Steps to Recovering from Self-Addiction




Note: the following scenario occurred solely in the author’s imagination; any resemblance to actual persons or events is (mostly) coincidental.

“Hello,” I greet the circle of faces attending the self-addiction support group. “My name is Patricia and I’m addicted to — myself.”

“Hi, Patricia.”

“I didn’t think I’d become an addiction, until I realized how much time and energy I pour into trying to construct a good self-image, working to be liked, living to serve myself. I don’t see Jesus doing that. It’s time for a change.”

Heads nod empathetically, and story-sharing begins. One girl, admitting to spending a full hour daily in front of the mirror, exclaims, “that’s fifteen days of navel-gazing annually!” The guy on my left confesses his smartphone harbors 700 selfies; another person describes how his personal presentation online became the center of his focus. “My life seems full,” he reflects, “but it’s full of emptiness.”

Fortunately for us selfaholics, God’s word is packed with tips for combatting self-focused living. The “12 Steps to Recovery” pamphlet I’m holding lists just a few:

1. Admit we need a savior.

The truth is, we’re nothing by ourselves. There is no earthly way to earn God’s acceptance; we need the Heavenly Way, and without him, we’re already dead. Remembering that we deserve nothing, except death, positions us aright in humility.

2. Practice the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 22:4 (NIV) says, “humility is the fear of the Lord,” while Proverbs 8:13 (NKJV) explains, “the fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” When we despise our pride and humbly put God first, we’re practicing the fear of the Lord — and breaking self-addiction.

3. Worship.

Worship is one response to humbly recognizing our position before God. By worshiping, we focus on God’s glory rather than on glorifying ourselves.

4. Embrace the “Johnitude.”

When Jesus drew more attention than John the Baptist, John declared, “he must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30, NIV). Adopting this attitude corrects our priorities from being self-focused to Christ-focused.

5. Take the lowest place.

Jesus didn’t only command us to assume the lowest position among others (Luke 14:7-11). He did so himself, according to Philippians 2:5-7 (NLT):

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God… he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.”

6. Serve like Christ.

Taking the lowest place has an active side: servanthood. Although as countercultural today as it was when Jesus shocked his disciples by washing their feet (John 13:1-11), servanthood is a lifestyle we’re called to follow.

7. Build others up.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) urges us to “encourage one another and build each other up.” Instead of constantly trying to boost our own image, what would happen if we invested that energy into validating others?

8. Seek others’ interests.

Philippians 2:4 (ESV) admonishes,

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

What can you do today to bless someone else, lift their spirit, or brighten their day?

9. Recognize lies.

Looking out for others isn’t easy in a culture that teaches us to live for ourselves. Pray for wisdom to recognize these culturally-engrained lies, taking “captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV.)

10. Speak truth.

Taking captive every thought requires fighting lies with the truth of God’s word, as Jesus did when he faced temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). Memorize scripture that speaks to selfaholism, to combat the “worship yourself” messages we encounter daily.

11. Discipline yourself.

An active way to counter culturally-engrained lies is through discipline and self-control (See 1 Corinthians 9:24-27). The spiritual discipline of fasting, for instance, helps us practice saying no to self-indulgence.

12. Look at Jesus.

Self-denial lies at the heart of the gospel (Matthew 16:24). We give up pursuing ourselves to death because we’ve found One whom we can pursue to life. Looking steadily into the light of the Son is the only way to become blinded to ourselves.

***

I glance up from the pamphlet, suddenly seeing the other faces not as “friends” to decorate my social media pages, but as humans whom God fiercely cherishes. And God — He’s no longer a means to whatever end I want in life, but He’s Father, Savior, and King. Though I’m empty-handed before Him, He adores me anyway, making my extraneous efforts to be liked irrelevant.

“Imagine,” pipes up Mirror Girl, “unchained to ourselves, how much time, resources and energy we’ll have for advancing God’s eternal kingdom instead of our own fading images!”

Selfie Guy nods, already deleting pictures from his phone.

I just smile.

Kissing ourselves goodbye will render us counter-revolutionaries in our selfalholic culture.

Somehow, I get the feeling it’s going to be worth it.


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About the Author

is an undergraduate science student with a threefold passion for Christian apologetics, outdoor adventure, and Dutch licorice. Most of all, she aims to walk with God and bring others along. When not writing term papers, planning hikes, or trying to build homemade outdoor gear out of dental floss, she may often be found leaning on a boulder somewhere along Canada’s west coast, looking contemplative. And eating licorice.



  • Great Article! Thanks! SO real and down to earth.
    https://toocomfortableblog.wordpress.com

    • pengler

      Thank you, Emma!

  • Sara Barratt

    Yes! This is great! I was just talking with a friend the other day about how insecurity is the fruit of self-centeredness. You touched on that when you said “…. until I realized how much time and energy I pour into trying to construct a good self-image…” Great job! Thank you! :)

    • pengler

      That’s a great point about the role of insecurity, Sara! I hadn’t thought of that, but it makes sense–especially cause that’s how a lot of marketing messages work. They make us feel not quite “good enough” without bigger muscles, smoother skin and faster technology, all of which would be ours if we only bought their product! Thanks for sharing.

      • Sara Barratt

        Exactly! Our culture definitely feeds into, as you put it, self-addiction. Thanks again! :)

  • I loved this! Great job, the writing is beautiful. I love how you wrote with such a creative approach. Phenomenal job!
    https://thenarrowroadforteens.wordpress.com/

    • pengler

      Thanks Bekah! It was a fun one to write.

  • ZeePt3

    Thanks for writing! It was super encouraging and humbling.

    • pengler

      I’m glad it was an encouragement! Thanks for responding :)

  • Andrew B.

    Awesome!
    My desire for acceptance is replaced with peace when I realize that my God is always pursuing me and has already accepted me.

    • pengler

      Great words, Andrew!

  • Karissa Bird

    I love this so much, it’s so unique! May have convicted me a bit, thanks for writing this amazingness!

    • pengler

      Thanks for responding, Karissa! I’m glad it resonated with you :)

  • This was something I have been struggling with – addiction to myself. This was just what I needed right now!

    • pengler

      Praise God! 😀 I love it when that happens–so many times He’s brought just the right post to my attention in the right moment too. Thanks for sharing!

  • Doreen Barton

    Triangle of self obsession can take me away from my purpose. To help, love, and be grateful to God for all that has beenough given.

    • pengler

      Good words! Thanks for reading. :)

  • Michaela T

    This was so timely – thanks for sharing!

    • pengler

      I’m so glad! :)

  • Chloe Bowling

    This is GREAT!!!!

    • pengler

      Thanks, Chloe!

  • Grace M.

    I appreciate the bullet points with ideas. It made your article easy to read. :) Thanks for sharing this!

    https://tizziestidbits.wordpress.com

    • pengler

      For sure! And keep up the great writing! :)

      • Grace M.

        Thanks so much! That’s nice of you to say. :)

  • Louis Gervais

    Amen to bashing selfies :)

  • Lol, I feel just the opposite. I have no pics of myself because I don’t like how I look.

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