I made a post in our Friends of Tipping Point Facebook community the other day that said, “It’s one thing to understand WHY they lie. It’s another thing to know WHAT to do about it.”
To which someone replied, “So what do you do about it?”
The answer is…it depends.
Which is a terrible answer, I know, but the truth is this is incredibly nuanced. It really does differ person to person, family to family.
That said, there are a few concrete suggestions I can give. Here they are:
Before you respond to the lie (or the manipulation, the stealing—whatever “addiction behavior” it is), take a moment to pause, breathe, and take inventory. There are a few important things for you to reflect on before you respond in order to create change.
2. Ask yourself, “How do I feel about their lying?”
Write down your answer.
There are two things happening alongside each other: 1) their lying and 2) your feelings about it. You may understand why they are lying. You may get that they can’t help it, their brain is hijacked, they have a compulsion to use that’s stronger than their love for you, which is all true.
But understanding it is different than how you feel about it.
So when you write down your answer, make sure you’re using feeling words. Words like crushed, manipulated, devastated, hurt, sad, disappointed, and disgusted. If you need help thinking of some (which is super common—we don’t use these words naturally), I suggest googling “list of feeling words” or “feeling wheel” to help you out.
This next step is super important.
3. How is the way you feel about their behavior causing you to think, act, and respond?
Maybe you’ve identified the way you feel about their lying is pissed off. How does you being pissed off cause you to think, act, and respond? Does it make you get defensive? Lash back? Snap at them? Confront them? Pull away? Try to get them to apologize or stop?
Once you have a clear idea of this, you can move on to the next step…
4. Is this a healthy way of interacting?
Is your response creating a connection or is it disconnecting? Disconnection is in the field of addiction; connection is in the field of recovery.
Are your thoughts, actions, and responses helpful or unhelpful? Helpful is leading you and them toward your respective recovery paths, which consists of self-awareness, self-reflection, healthy open communication, and tools and resources to be able to navigate difficult situations. Unhelpful would be feeding into the same cycle of chaos you’ve been stuck in.
YOU can break that cycle.
Once you take inventory of how you feel in this way, you can be intentional about how you respond, and you can start to respond in a new way.
P.S. Your loved one may not be happy about this change, because it means they (really their addiction) is no longer the one driving the bus. But remember, you’re learning how to respond to what they need, not what they want.
If you start to practice these steps and want to take it further, I want to support you. You can always post in our Friends of Tipping Point Facebook community, where I’m happy to help, or you can book 1-1 time with me if you want to to take a closer look.