Stereotypes are naughty; they are a way we over-simplify and try to find patterns to understand our world. Our brain loves patterns; it craves understanding. If it can find a pattern, it can go into lazy mode. Ever driven from home to the gym only to arrive and remember not a single thing about the drive? That’s your brain remembering a pattern. How often have you started out for the grocery store and ended up at a craft store? Clearly, we are going to the craft store more often than Kroger’s. Auto pilot. This tendency to develop habits and predict patterns can get ugly if it turns into a compulsion. A compulsion can turn into a dependency.
My brother’s Substance Use Disorder was as simple and as complicated as anyone else who struggles with this disease. Our understanding of it shifted over the years, often in sync with our collective cultural awakening to the nature of the affliction. Today, the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders) characterizes Substance Use Disorder as a “Recurrent use of alcohol or other drugs that causes clinically and functionally-significant impairment, such as health problems, disability, failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school or home.”
Whatever we “use” compulsively eventually turns on us; it never delivers on its promise to make us feel “normal” or “happy” or “capable.” This is the human condition - we search for shortcuts that we hope will fulfill us. This affliction is physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual in nature. All elements of our body, mind and spirit are impacted by the disorder.
My people are broken—shattered!—and they put on Band-Aids, saying, ‘It’s not so bad. You’ll be just fine.’ But things are not ‘just fine’! Jeremiah 6:14 The Message
Today, consider your habits. Really think about it. Things you say habitually without really thinking about your words? Like assuming a group of people are all alike? Habitual ways you think about yourself - often negative but sometimes too positive as well? Your brain can get too hooked into your patterns; for this work, consider your heart.