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Forged by Fire: The Road From Addiction to Success and Happiness

Forged by Fire: The Road From Addiction to Success and Happiness

The claws of addiction are long and sharp — once they grab ahold of a mortal heart, prone to sin and overindulgence, you’ll find their grip incredibly difficult to escape. Now, this is not to say that it can’t be done, but overcoming addiction is not a journey to be undertaken without a well-structured plan, plenty of commitment, and a strong support network.

There is a silver lining here, though — it is through all the trials and tribulations that a recovering addict goes through that an iron will is forged, and it is this grim determination to overcome adversity at all costs that can serve as a powerful tool later in life.

In this article, we will be taking a look at some of the ways people overcome addiction and the psychological tools and tactics that help them do so, as well as how ex-addicts can use their newfound strength of character to attain success and happiness in life.

Making the initial leap of faith

One of the hardest things in the world is admitting your own faults and mistakes, and this is even more difficult for someone with an addictive personality. When you’re used to escaping the grim reality with the use of your chosen drug, after a while you can’t even remember what it feels like to go about your day with your body chemistry set on default.

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Admitting that what you are doing is bad for you and the people around you and that, no, you can’t just quit whenever you want, is a huge victory. It is also a hard-won victory that is preceded by hours upon hours of self-doubt, fear, sadness, and frustration. It takes a lot of courage and strength to be able to change the way you see and define yourself, and this initial step — laying bare before you all your transgressions and weaknesses and deciding to change who you are — will lead to an immense mental shift.

The gruelling road towards recovery and lessons learned

Depending on your poison of choice, the process of going back to normal can be anywhere from “hard but doable” to “insanely uncomfortable and nerve-wracking.” For me, it was a matter of quitting cigarettes, giving up high-calorie junk food, and limiting my alcohol intake — which is no walk in the park, but is nowhere near as gruelling of an experience as quitting and fully recovering your body from extensive drug use.

However, I know a few people who had started to lose grip with reality and sink deep into the dark void of addiction — and then managed to pull themselves back. Some never quite return and keep falling back into old patterns, some are so determined to proceed with their kamikaze fall into oblivion that it’s nearly impossible to help them, but those who overcome their addiction have some incredible lessons to share. The human mind truly undergoes some major changes during recovery, both on a chemical and psychological level, and it’s interesting to see just how these changes can affect a person.

Some of the best life lessons I’ve picked up from ex-addicts can be applied to a wide range of circumstances and make anyone’s life better, and they are as follows:

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  • If you want to make progress, you need to stop lying to yourself.
  • Humans are not loners by nature; you need the support of your loved ones.
  • You need a single clear goal that you are focused on 100% if you want to succeed.
  • Every little victory counts, and you’ll need to achieve as many of them as you can.
  • A single failure does not mean utter defeat — don’t ever quit because of a setback.
  • If you want to change your lifestyle, change your circle of friends.

I’m sure that there are plenty of other little gems of wisdom that those who’ve overcome addiction could share with us, but these are just some of the most important ones that I’ve found to be highly beneficial.

The Survivor Mindset and how it carries over into the business world

The world of business is a cutthroat affair where only the strongest survive, but it is also a unique playground where all manner of different ideas can thrive. The mental toughness, determination, and ability to learn from failure that is developed through recovery can all be more than useful in an entrepreneurial context, but there’s more to it.

There is an interesting concept proposed by Per Wickstrom, the founder of Best Drug Rehabilitation and an ex-addict-turned-entrepreneur himself, of running a business more like a drug rehab clinic in order to attain success through making the customers happy, actually caring about their needs, and believing strongly in your own set of morals.

Focusing on helping others, developing emotional connections, and not straying away from your own core beliefs or deceiving others just to make a quick buck can actually help you build a strong business foundation and a likeable and trustworthy brand. The ability to determine which life choices are ethically questionable and which ones can help both you and others around you, while trying to stay well away from the dark side, is something that a recovering addict must quickly become adept at.

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Another thing ex-addicts have going for them is that they understand how toxic people’s minds work, how to spot them a mile away and deal with them effectively, which helps them avoid a great deal of stress and problems in the workplace. All this can help you a lot in any type of business setting.

How overcoming addiction and staying clean builds a happier mind

Apart from making you much more realistic, determined, and ambitious when it comes to business, overcoming addiction can also help you become a much better and happier person in your private life as well. Here are a few big positive changes that you will experience after successfully defeating addiction:

  • You develop thick skin and a fighting mentality.
  • You develop a deeper understanding of yourself and others.
  • You no longer take the little things for granted.
  • You’ve seen rock bottom and never want to go back there again.

There is an endless source of motivation to be found in the mere fact that you know what it feels like to be sad and alone with no prospects at the bottom of that black pit of misery and addiction, and you gain a great appreciation for the beauty of life and all those inspiring little moments that most people take for granted.

When combined with the ability to understand just how troubled and lonely someone can be, to connect with others on a deep emotional level, and to never let small things worry you too much, all this can turn you into a wonderful human being if you can just keep pushing forward.

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While drug addiction is an incredibly serious problem, it is not an impossible obstacle to overcome — it just takes lots of courage, determination, and patience. Going through the process of recovery is not just about going back to normal and integrating back into society; it also brings out the survivor mindset from deep within you, and that kind of mindset brings a lot of unique benefits with it.

As long as you apply the same intensity and strength of conviction to other aspects of your life, you will be able to achieve great things.

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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