In the late 1940s through the 1950s, a favorite American TV show was The Lone Ranger. Growing up, this masked man became a symbol of independence and doing life on your terms. At least that’s the Lone Ranger attitude that came through to me.
However, the Lone Ranger always had Tonto at his side. The two of them fought the bad guys to see that justice was served. Initially, the Lone Ranger was part of a group of Texas Rangers who’d been ambushed by an outlaw they were chasing. One man survived the attack. Tonto found him, recognized this man from a childhood encounter, and nursed him back to health. In the original story, Tonto gives the surviving ranger his famous nickname: The Lone Ranger.
As popular as the TV and radio shows were, the symbol of the Lone Ranger became distorted.
If you look up the term lone ranger in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, you find this definition:
“one who acts alone and without consultation or the approval of others.”
However, the real Lone Ranger attitude wasn’t to go it alone at all.
He always had Tonto. Without Tonto, the Lone Ranger would have died in the ambush.
As a coach, I meet a lot of people who are ambushed. In their addictive and wounded state, they believe:
“My addiction doesn’t hurt anyone else.”
No one? Really?
That’s a lie. Plain and simple.
Rooted in the American belief of independence, and ensconced in our souls and psyches, this short-sighted notion destroys individuals, families, and communities. This lie is the contrary interpretation of the Lone Ranger attitude.
The Lone Ranger wouldn’t have survived without Tonto.
Left to ourselves—alone—we may not survive.
Addictive behaviors isolate you.
While my husband and I were in recovery from his pornography addiction, one thing we discovered was the depth of our isolation. When the friends we reached out to asked us to identify four to six people, we both felt comfortable enough to walk with us in our recovery journey, we struggled. Our reality revealed our harmful Lone Ranger mentality.
During this recovery, I heard, “The reason you are standing today is that you are stubborn. You bought the lie that you could tough through life on your own.”
My fear of someone discovering how much I was hurting fueled this lie. After all, if you present a strong, happy, independent image, no one discovers how weak you are, right?
Wrong. Totally wrong. That isolation mindset fed the addiction.
According to the Bible, we are not created to live alone.
We are meant to live in community with others. We need those around us to support us, love us, correct us, and encourage us. By authentically and genuinely revealing addictions to food, pornography, alcohol, shopping, or anything else, we can find our Tonto and receive assistance.
Yes, some may condemn you. Not everyone is built to be Tonto. But that’s not about you. Your humble admission of your struggle holds a mirror up to the other person. If you aren’t ready to face the truth of your problem or can’t accurately see yours, you may receive a negative response.
But if you bravely reach out, you find your Tonto. You survive. And may even learn to thrive and help others like the masked crusader.
How do you leave the negative Lone Ranger attitude in the dust?
The first step in any recovery process is an acknowledgment of the problem. This admission is not a sign of weakness. Admitting you struggle means you are strong. You desire wholeness. Good for you!
Swallow your pride.
Isolation trains us to be independent. We buy into the lie that we can overcome if we have enough willpower or self-control. Nope! No one has that amount of sustainable strength by themselves. We are proud of our sparkly outsides while our insides feel like a volcano of torment. Get over yourself and tell someone what’s going on. Satan wants you to stay stuck; Jesus Christ offers freedom.
Risk your reputation.
In my case, I identified three women to whom I told the truth. Imagine. I’m a Christian who worked at a church, my husband worked at a Christian ministry, and I had to admit his pornography addiction to other Christian women.
What do you think was going through my head?
And yet, not one of them rejected me as I anticipated. Instead, these women became Jesus with skin on to me. I received unwavering support, encouragement, prayer, and accountability. The key to finding people of this caliber is to pay attention to how they live their lives. Talk is cheap; look at the actions.
Strength comes in community.
Building a wise and healthy community to walk with you through your recovery is crucial. But you can’t do this if you aren’t willing to come clean about the addiction (reread point #2). Entering a community involves trust. You must choose to take others at their word. Believing they desire your best opens your mind and heart.
Change your self-image set point.
You can do the first four, but if you don’t choose this last point, you struggle to overcome your addiction. This won’t be a single decision, but a series of small, repeatable choices you make routinely. Like an onion, you will peel back layers of your self-image. Get to know the real you. Find your “set point issues” you must work through. Having that supportive community not only reveals your set points but also provides your safe place to work through that layer. In a recent conversation with my coach, he identified a new level where I’d slipped back into this Lone Ranger mindset.
Focus on serving others.
You can’t serve and remain isolated. It’s not possible because isolation turns the spotlight on you. Service to others forces you to pay attention to what another person needs. If you continuously seek another’s approval, you’ve got an “I,” My coach correctly challenged me, “Listen to your words.” Do you hear more “I” statements than those about your friends, family, and tribe? Time for some self-assessment to shift your focus.
Who’s your Tonto?
One of my Tonto’s is my coach. As we work together, trust builds. My coach holds me accountable and isn’t afraid to hold up the mirror so I can see those blind spots that hold me back.
Today, you have a choice. Which Lone Ranger attitude will you adopt?
Will you allow your addiction to isolate you? Or, will you choose to take that first bold step and admit your struggle? A Lone Ranger of the new definition would have waved Tonto off with an “I’m fine. I got this.” And there would be no Lone Ranger.
It’s entirely up to you. If you think it’s time for a better way and you’d like to explore your options, please reach out.
The real Lone Ranger didn’t go it alone. He chose Tonto and accepted his help so that he could help others.
Your addiction is harming more than you. Those who love you feel the pain, deceit, and denial as well.
If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.