The Third “D” Word
Ever feel like smashing something?
I certainly have. And I have smashed, slammed, thrown and torn up things. Sometimes our pain lashes out in rage. Whether it’s with words or objects, towards others or ourselves, destruction is never a healthy answer to our distress.
But how do I stop?
In the book of Romans, Paul says
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…for what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:15 & 19
Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. Me too.
We ALL struggle with feelings of depression, despair and even destruction. Even if our destructive patterns are “minor” like not taking care of ourselves – overworking, eating poorly, not getting enough good sleep – or something more serious like abusing alcohol or drugs or cutting our body, the underlying issue is a lack of a healthy view of our value. Paul’s answer in that letter to the Romans was that Christ is the one who saves me. He makes a way for us where there seems to be no way.
So how do I get a handle on my destructive behavior?
- Discover your value. You are loved. God created you to be special, unique and he wants a relationship with you. Write out the words to I Corinthians 13:4-8 as a love letter from God. “God is patient with (insert your name). He is kind to (your name). etc. Then write the same verses out to yourself. For example, mine reads: Laura is patient with herself. She is kind to herself. Eventually, I started reading “I’m not easily angered with myself.” Read this every day until it sinks in. God is love. He loves you. Love yourself. (I can’t take credit for this – my counselor had me do this.)
- Discover the root of your anger. Anger is a secondary emotion. What is underneath? Are you hurt, disappointed, frustrated? Feeling betrayed, abandoned or scared? It takes some work, but the next time you feel angry, try to stop and consider what is really going on under the surface of that rage.
- Deal with your past. Past pain reveals itself in present problems. It may hurt, but any destructive behavior is adding to your pain, not relieving it.
- Realize you have choices. Often we feel the compulsion to destroy because it gives us a sense of control. Especially for those of us who were in abusive situations where we were being controlled by someone who hurt us, as adults we now find we can take charge. But often we are taking control as adults with child feelings and action. When we understand that we now have choices to make, we will feel less out of control.
- Ask for help. When you let a couple of trusted individuals know you’re struggling and ask them to hold you accountable, you’ll find that the compulsion loses some of its power. That’s because hidden things control us, but revealed things that are let into the open offer freedom. Think of a festering sore. If you kept it wrapped up in an old, dirty bandage, infection would set in and cause further damage. But letting in light, air and cleaning it out creates an environment for healing. It’s the same with our wounded hearts.
- Last, but certainly not least, is understanding and accepting that we have an enemy who hates us because God loves us. Satan wants to hurt God and if he can destroy God’s children, it breaks God’s heart. The enemy wants us to be like him – destructive to ourselves and others. He wants to keep us in pain, bondage and away from our loving Father. The more we move forward, the harder he will try to hold us back. But knowing this is empowering. God can do all things. He’s bigger than the bad guys.
I’m not an authority.
And this list isn’t exhaustive. But these are a few things that have really helped me. Oh, and one last thing…remember it took us time to get messed up so it will take time to become free. I slammed a door the other day. My fear and frustration got a hold of me before I could get a handle on it.
It’s been a few months since I’ve done that. And as I was forceful with the car door, I realized it. Fear produces adrenaline and adrenaline seeks fight or flight. I fought with the door. But I’m learning to deal with the feelings first or remove myself from certain situations.
That’s actually progress.
I just don’t want you to think I’ve got it all together. 😉
If you’re struggling with destructive behavior of any kind and you’d like to connect, shoot me (no, wait) I mean send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.