Your Addiction Reveals Your Affliction - Grasshopper
When you pick your poison, you can also spotlight the emotion that caused you to choose it.
Most of us mitigate our distressing habit patterns by saying things like:
"That's just the way I am."
"Love me or leave me."
"You gotta' die sometime."
This is not only a way of deflecting attention away from the problem; it reinforces the denial that there is any problem in the first place.
If we ever do have a mirror session with ourselves, it's usually a temporary one filled with remorse, self loathing, name calling and other unproductive states of mind. Labeling our behavior with judgements has us wear sack cloth for awhile but that only results in a rash. We quickly return to our conditioned way of causing dismay.
We seem to put addiction into a box that only includes outside agents like drugs, alcohol, tobacco and the like. Rarely do we consider it addiction when assessing our beliefs. How many of us are married to a mindset that's not working? That's an addiction.
The platitude of "Change your thoughts, change your life" is not an effective strategy, although universally prescribed. That approach works only on the level of thought. The patterned behavior is on a different level; therefore the two trains never meet.
How to best go after the pattern, rather than the thoughts about the pattern? Go for the emotion.
This doesn't mean to tell yourself a story until you cry. That's drama. Going for the emotion means to feel the emotion that's causing your surface behavior.
No one abusing alcohol is thirsty, nor are they calming down. They're checking out. What are they on the move from? - The emotion that's nipping at their heels.
All addicts are emotional cowards. They are more afraid of feeling their emotions than they are of all the other causes of fear combined. The thing they fear the most, the emotion, is their salvation.
Yes, the first step is always to notice that your particular addiction is interfering with the quality of your life. Many people can intellectually get to that step with help or on their own. It's the next step that determines whether they move forward or relapse.
To move forward, it's time to meet your emotion. It's time to stop and feel the emotion that precedes the action that triggers your downhill slide. We all know what this emotion is but have conditioned ourselves to slam the door on it instead of inviting it in.
Once you issue the invite, lock yourself in a room with your emotion so there's no room to hide. This takes bravery. It's akin to the courage the ancient conquerors summoned when they burned their own ships so they couldn't retreat.
This is a time for feeling, not thinking. Let this emotion have access to every part of you. Explore it and allow that emotion to permeate every fiber of your body. Stay with the feelings your body is producing. This is the same courage necessary to keep your eyes open during the scary part of the movie. Why do you close them in the first place? - Because you don't want to feel the feelings.
Feeling your feelings is the only way to move through them. All the other strategies of holding them off keep them steroid strong, and they continue fueling your harmful patterns of behavior.
Sitting with the emotion goes against all our conditioning and most "professional" guidance. It seems not many have stopped to examine how those "talk yourself out of your emotions" strategies keep them firmly in place.
Moving through an emotion is using the energy of the emotion to find something new, rather than keeping it chained to our counterproductive behavior.
Feeling you emotions fully leads towards discovery and away from addiction.
There is good reason why President Franklin D. Roosevelt's quote has lived on in infamy. It's because it contains a universal truth that keeps knocking on our door.
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Open the door to your emotions and you will wash the fearful thoughts out of your mind.
Discover what's on the other side of any emotion by moving through it. It's quite helpful and non-addictive.
All the best,
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