Unconscious denial is nature’s defense against unbearable pain. But some denial is tactical – a way to be irresponsible while not looking so bad. To have reverence for the truth and for human dignity, each type must be confronted differently.
Hitting bottom is utter defeat combined with the inability to deny the true cause of that defeat. When the lofty fall and can blame no one but themselves, opportunity opens for constructive self-reflection and character growth.
Manipulators like engaging in evasion and diversion because these tactics keep the spotlight off their behavior. There artful dance around the issues can help them stay one step ahead of you. That’s why it’s so important to confront their tactics head-on.
No one makes a major life course-correction without submitting to a higher power or operating principle. But narcissists have a big problem with that.
In many ways, character is like a psychological immune system. Stressful things happen to all of us, but when you have a rightly developed will, you can more readily summon the internal resources to weather the storms of life. Still, the strength and solidity of our will must always be tested.
Not all undisciplined behavior represents a genuine addiction. And while there are some rare exceptions, most true addictions don’t just develop overnight. There’s a typical pathway to getting “hooked.” And that pathway is littered with many clear warning signs. Healthy characters respect and heed those signs. But underdeveloped characters tend to ignore or disregard them. That’s why character, and mastering character’s “sixth command,” is so important.
The “fifth commandment” of sound character is about mastering our appetites and aversions. But we can’t possibly become the master of our appetites unless we first learn to delay gratification. And we can’t be masters of our aversions unless we’ve cultivated the will to bear discomfort.
Our gluttony isn’t just about food. From sex to money, we want more of just about everything. And nothing really satisfies. Moreover, anything we can get too easily and do too often can become an “addiction.”
Survivors of toxic relationships know how difficult it can be to restore one’s emotional sanity, pick up the pieces, and move on. They need answers that empower and help protect them against future harm.
It’s an unfortunate reality that when character disturbances either fail to be recognized or are improperly labeled as something else, the problems associated with those disturbances can be “enabled” to continue or even worsen.