Addictions are rife in society. We are so creative at finding them and many people I talk to in any depth begin to tell me about theirs. And they can appear to have a lot of power over us! I know, I have had some classics myself.
We are Animals!
Well first, the human condition we have here. We are primally programmed to avoid pain and chase pleasure. This generally makes good sense. A fire is hot, that hurts, so take your hand out of it. Problem solved. Eating when you are hungry feels good, so definitely do that, it helps keeps us alive and healthy. Sex is nice, so we do that too, and the species continues to survive. The brain and body is wired for this basic process through all sorts of bio-chemical and neurological interactions.
Where did it go wrong?
There are a few problems that have arisen from this ingenious design of the human body, and whilst it has helped us survive as a species for so long, what feels nice can become harmful to us if we don’t govern it well with our intelligent mind. What was dinner and a scoop of ice-cream for dessert can become dinner and two liters of ice-cream for dessert. Why? Often we even know that we shouldn’t, yet here we are, back on you-tube for the third hour straight when we know we should be doing the bookwork for our business (yes I know this one too well…)
Our ability to see logic and the bigger picture often helps us to do things well. I don’t want to go outside, it’s cold today, but I need to go to the shops to pick some things up for me and my friends for lunch so I will brave that small discomfort of the cold to succeed at getting lunch together for us. I am kind of a hero.
Many people suffer all sorts of pains and discomforts. Some of them physical, however a lot of people carry a lot of pain inside, often called the pain-body. Grief and loss, rejection, low-self worth, helplessness or hopelessness and disappointment. Also the unnecessary, negative, reactionary side of the mind can create a lot of pain, fear, discontentment, ambition, vengeance, boredom, jealousy, envy, anger. A book could be written on each word and how the process works inside a person.
Your addictions can keep you running away forever and a day
Then the mechanism kicks in to get you away from this pain. Your mind may scan to what it knows best will alleviate your suffering. Coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, exercise, work, television, you-tube, social-media, drugs, food, hope, day-dreaming, power, pornography, gaming, sex-addiction, anger, drama and shopping to name a few. You may go to your favourite one (maybe you medley many of them). These are some of the things people can use to alleviate or distract themselves from their pain and suffering. Problem is that they don’t solve any problems! They take up your time, they all have their own set of tragic side effects to you and those close to you, and they can keep you running and running away from your pain forever and a day.
What do I do?!?
1. See Clearly: If you can recognize your addictions and start to get a handle on why you are using them, well done to you. Seems like a simple step but it can be difficult to really see clearly so this is a great achievement.
2. Commit to Change: Nothing happens without this one. You have to want to stop an addiction then you can put that desire into action. Commit to yourself, commit to a friend, commit to a teacher or mentor and they can help you and you can be accountable to them.
3. Discipline: If you catch yourself wanting to use your addiction, apply discipline: stop and don’t do it…
Here people will often replace the addiction with another escape that seems healthier to them. For example eating and tv with exercise and work, chasing beauty and money. But even if we become successful in this way, this is not where happiness lies. Also as long as we are still running away from what is inside us we cannot every truly rest, so…
4. Practice Self-Awareness: Be mindful of why you are doing what you are doing, and what is going on inside yourself. It is important to see what is going on in your mind, in your body, with your sensations, your energy, be conscious of your psyche. If you are beating yourself up or stressing yourself out you need to be able to see that, this is what you are doing. If you have heart-ache from grief and loss, it is valuable to realize that you are feeling your own pain and that it may not be your job dissatisfaction or relationship that is the problem, you may have already in pain before you thought of it. Becoming more wholesome through important practices like self-acceptance, letting go, being mature, and being present to the moment are all articles for another day but I think (and feel :)) that it is important to add in this fifth point for successfully dealing with addiction. Be conscious of what is motivating you and…
5. Warmly Welcome: People run away from their experience of the pains of life – from their grief, their fears and their feelings of shame. Stop running! Stop shutting out your own experience, it is yours, you can’t get away from it. If you ‘successfully’ run, it is right back there again next time. And your fear of feeling it will be dictating how you live your life. Don’t talk to that person, don’t go there, don’t try that, don’t let that happen, stop them from saying that, don’t be open and vulnerable around him or her. If you watch you will see how much the fear of feeling your own ‘pain-body’ is ruling your life, and will until you die with much regret. Unless you change it now. Welcome your sadness – it is yours, allow the shame – that is a part of you, and welcome everything with warmth. I’m not talking about tolerating here, there is still resistance in that. Warmly welcome them to be there as long as they please. Let go, it’s all okay.
So this is a brief list of 5 points to deal with addictions. It’s not easy to do, for example warmly welcoming, it is simple, but not easy. It is still my practice to be more welcoming of my experience and I know how worthwhile it is, and I keep practicing.
Is It Possible?
I have been watching a lot of speakers talking about self-acceptance lately, and I cringe whenever one of them infers that it is not possible to totally accept and love yourself. From watching Vishrant for the last 13 years I know that it is. And I’m told he was like that well before enlightenment. Some of these people in the videos just don’t realize what is possible for us as human beings.
It is possible to meet life with no resistance, it is possible to stop running away and turn and face all parts of yourself. The depth of character and the wholesomeness that you develop as you see, heal and integrate all parts of yourself are so valuable to you and to those you share yourself with.
So don’t ever become apathetic, the true greatness in you is not measured by your worldly successes. This rebellion is done with a warm and conscious awareness. Work towards overcoming your addictions: see clearly, commit to change, apply the discipline, become more self-aware and warmly welcome your experience.