Editor's Note: Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family? Dr. David will address questions from Crosswalk readers in his weekly column. Submit your question to him at: TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.
From the volume of emails I’ve received in recent weeks, it is clear many of you are either living with a CrazyMaker or have lived with one.
You feel like you’ve been living in a House of Mirrors where your words get turned back on you, your voice isn’t heard and your feelings aren’t validated. Because of this lack of safety, you feel smaller and smaller. This is what it’s like living with a CrazyMaker.
But what if, like a recent writer, you feel like you are the CrazyMaker? What if you believe many of the CrazyMaker’s traits fit you? I’ve shared about how to cope with and confront a CrazyMaker, and now need to address those of you who feel like you’ve met the enemy, and the enemy is you.
Before getting too tough on yourself, however, take heart. Somewhere along the trail we’ve all picked up some bad habits. Since the Garden of Eden, we’ve been hurling blame and hiding from accountability. Like all CrazyMakers, we tend to point the finger of blame anywhere but toward ourselves. We become easily defensive when facing criticism, making it nearly impossible for anyone to approach us with concerns. We’ve lost the fine art of humility, instead adopting the attitude that we’re smarter or somehow better than others.
But, this can change. If we are to be healthy and live in healthy marriages and relationships, we must face our weaknesses. If you look in the mirror and see traits of an Egotist, Aggressor, Sufferer, Borderline or Control Freak, it’s time to change.
A recent email illustrates the problem:
Dear Dr. David. I read your series on the CrazyMakers, and I feel like at least 4 of the 5 of them describe me, if not all of them. You give sound (though really difficult to hear) advice to the victims of CrazyMakers, but for me (and others like me) I'd like to see some sound advice that might help us do something about these issues in our lives. I've been fighting against myself for so long, and I'm very, very tired, and I wish there was something out there that could just make it click. I need a change in my life, but I fear I am too logical, intelligent and analytical to really let anything sink in. I don't want to be myself, and I definitely don't want to have these social issues that I have; It's just so hard to fight all the time to try to be something I'm not, but at the same time I don't like who I am. Most of the time I feel as if everyone in my life would be better off without me and my rollercoaster of attitudes and moods. I'm seeing a counselor, but like I said, I fear I am too logical, intelligent and analytical to be helped. Something's gotta give, seriously, or I'm worried I may lose my wife and my kid that's on the way, as well as my job, and I may not ever be able to hold a job again. I feel like a sinking ship. Every time I try to start a consistent schedule, like reading my Bible, or a book, or doing things right, it always ends up dropping off. I just don't know what to do. If you know of any resources that can help, anything that could make a difference, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks for your time.
First, good for you to be ready to change. We never change until we come to the end of ourselves, discovering, often painfully, that what we’re doing isn’t working. Thankfully, you seem to have come to the insight that change is needed or you will lose much more than you’ve already lost.
Second, you’ve taken inventory and can see, and understand, that you are not easy to live with. Again, this insight in critical to provide the motivation necessary to change. We change when things aren’t working for us, and clearly your life isn’t working. I wish many others would realize that what they’re doing is causing havoc and leading to disaster. Imagine how much devastation could be avoided if we realized the pain we cause others, and changed.
Third, it’s time to let go of arrogance. You say you’re too logical, analytical and intelligent to be helped. Sounds like a lot of arrogance to me. We all need help. We must come to the end of our abilities and reach out, trusting a skilled psychologist/ counselor to point out the problems in our thinking and behavior. You sound like many who know too much, but don’t know when to admit they don’t know enough. Pride has always been a roadblock to healthy change.
Fourth, change is never easy. One of the primary reasons people slip back into old habit patterns is because they fail to fully assess the challenges facing them. Character change is long, arduous work. We never arrive. If one level of intervention is ineffective, step it up a bit. Seek further, more intense counseling. Even the Apostle Paul said that the things he didn’t want to do he did, and the things he did want to do he didn’t do. (Romans 7: 20) Sound familiar?
Fifth, develop an accountability program. We need each other on this journey. Perhaps you’re trying to do too much alone. Do you have someone to whom you’re accountable? Do you have a support group who will encourage you and offer constructive feedback when needed? There are many wonderful programs in local churches, including men’s groups and programs like Celebrate Recovery.
Finally, stick with your program. We are all pilgrims on this journey of emotional and spiritual growth. None of us fully know the way, seeming to see just far enough to get us one or two steps forward. Sometimes we take one step forward and two steps back.
Again, character change isn’t easy work, nor is it for the faint of heart. There are no magic pills or quick-fix solutions. It requires dedication to Scriptural principles, sound principles of emotional and physical health and lots of support. We must never, never give up. We have far too much to lose and so much to gain.
I’d love to hear your story of growing beyond CrazyMaking.
David Hawkins, Ph.D., is the founder of the Marriage Recovery Center. He has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. He is the author of over 18 books, including Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage, Saying It So He'll Listen, and When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest books are titled The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Healing a Hurting Relationship and The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Living Beyond Guilt. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.
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