By Jason Frenn
When I saw Charlie Sheen in Wall Street in 1987, I thought to myself, “This actor has it all. He’s twenty-two, good looking, very talented, and has a promising acting career.” Little did I know that Mr. Sheen carried the seeds of destruction that millions of people carry today. Over the twenty-three years that followed, those seeds have greatly deteriorated his personal life. He’s struggled with substance abuse, addiction to porn, domestic violence and has recently filed for his third divorce. Like many people, he looks somewhat successful on the outside, but on the inside, his internal world needs reinvention.
(In a Aug. 2, 2010 file photo, Charlie Sheen waves as he arrives at the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen, Colo., for a hearing in his domestic abuse case.)
Why do so many celebrities slip in and out of rehab these days? Ironically, they see the bad as good and the good as bad. They view destructive patterns as pleasurable and highly desirable, and they see things that are genuinely healthy and meaningful as boring and pointless. In many ways, their minds have been rewired much like the old switchboard operators that connected one caller to another. Their pleasure wires get connected to the self-destruction inputs, and ultimately, they become bonded to the things that they believe bring them pleasure.
So how can people become un-bonded or unstuck?
Let me say that my heart goes out to anyone who wants to change, and it’s this conviction that impresses me to share five things we can do to reinvent our internal world.
First, we can only change if we believe that we have a problem that keeps us in chains. It means the buck stops here, with us. When we take personal responsibility for our decisions, actions, and errors, change is much easier to attain.
Next, we must discover a reason or motive for change that is larger than any excuse or temptation that comes our way. For some, the fear of losing family, career, or even our own life is enough to curve bad behavior. For others, the fear of loss wears off or simply doesn’t work. This brings us to the third and central point of our discussion.
Some people might say, “Religion is a crutch.” That may be true, but God is not. God gives real strength in the midst of the storms of life, and placing our faith in Him is never in vain. God’s desire is that we live life not just survive it on crutches. While there are some people who use their religious expressions as a “get out of jail card”, in most cases, faith in God produces real change in character, integrity, discipline, wisdom, and strength. These are the necessary qualities of anyone who wants to break the destructive patterns in life. Breaking free without God’s help is very difficult.
Fourth, we can break the cycle by learning to redefine what brings us pleasure and what brings us pain. Simply put, it’s reconnecting the wires in our head so that we correctly view what is good, healthy and godly. Obviously, doing so is much easier said than done. Still, one of the ways we can make such a paradigm shift is by intentionally feeding our minds with teachings that are good, godly and healthy.
It’s also worth noting that the individuals with whom we spend time greatly influence the way we think. Surrounding ourselves with people who will pull us up instead of tear us down is another way we can rewire our minds. A wise man once said, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Too many personal battles are lost simply because we choose the wrong friends and engage in activities with the wrong people.
Fifth, reinvention also leads us to live a life of continual forgiveness. When we choose not to forgive those who have offended us, we drink a poison hoping that the other person will die. But it only winds up killing us. Inevitably, lack of forgiveness brings on greater destruction and shortens our lives. Remember, forgiveness is not an emotion. It’s a choice. Choosing to forgive is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and the ones you care about.
I come from a family plagued with dysfunction. Between my three parents, there are nine divorces. I grew up watching alcoholism and other addictions destroy the lives of good people that I love dearly. However, in 1982 we began a wonderful journey that led to a wonderful transformation. If my family can implement the things that I have outlined in this article and make a dynamic change, than so can Mr. Sheen and anyone else who desires to break the cycle!
Jason Frenn is the author of “Power to Reinvent Yourself: How to Break the Destructive Patterns in Your Life.”