Addiction manifests in a variety of ways. Addictive behavior and how to overcome it has become an integral part of the human experience over the last century. From 12-step programs to rehab centers to electric shock therapy, there have been a variety of approaches to curing them.
Though some of these approaches have resulted in eliminating the substance from the addict’s life, the cause itself has rarely been addressed. As a life and relationship coach, I have observed over the last decade that addictive behavior, in varying degrees, is innate in all human beings. We are, by definition, creatures of habit. We are Pavlov’s dog. The big difference though between us and the dog is that our habitual behaviors can have life-altering and even life threatening effects on us.
Healing an addiction requires us to move away from examining the symptoms (the drinking, the drugs, the eating, the gambling, the working, the shopping, the sexing, the sugar, the chaos and even the drama to name a few prominent examples) to the cause. The cause for any addiction is the same for all of us: an addiction is a representation that there is within the addict, an absence of love.
Healing an addiction through the door to peace and happiness, is achieved solely by introducing the presence of love in to the addict’s life. I know, you may be thinking, ‘get real’ now and ‘smell the coffee!’ Friends, if you are thinking this, then I say to you that you have addictive behaviors that are (or an addiction that is) controlling your life (through addiction) and denying you the peace and happiness that you deserve to experience.
An addiction is simply a repetitive behavior that is a substitute or replacement for an emotional void that we are feeling at our core. I have discovered that an addiction, no matter what shape or form it takes, is a symptom of what I call a spiritual disconnection. The key to healing an addiction is reconnecting ourselves to who we are spiritually.
Healing an addiction is about creating a new life story. All addicts have one thing in common: they all habitually lie to themselves. Their self-talk is one unsubstantiated story, fable and tall-tale after another. The content of these stories is always negative, emotionally draining and debilitating and in some cases can become life-threatening. A footnote here that is sad, but true: most Americans are addicts. When there is an absence of real love for oneself you will always find an addiction.
At this point, you may very well be saying that your story is sadder, more horrific than others and that is why you experience an addiction. To this, I say, excuses, alibis and playing the victim are the significant symptoms of addictive behavior. Peace and happiness can never exist in anyone’s life when excuses, lies, playing the victim and living in denial exist. Living in denial about ‘not feeling lovable’ or ‘not feeling good enough’ are the typical root causes for people to medicate and numb themselves through substances and negative behaviors.
Ending any addiction begins with knowing the root cause of it. Why do you do what you do? Why do you drink that fifth of vodka? Why do you smoke marijuana day after day? Why do you shop when your closet can’t hold another stitch of clothing? Why do you secretly watch pornography night after night? Why do you always end up with men who physically and mentally abuse you? Why is your life filled with drama day after day like a television soap opera? Why do you go into the fridge and eat that cheesecake when everyone else is asleep?
The answer is simple. You have been lying to yourself for so long that the stories you have been telling yourself over and over have become the person you believe you really are. It is as if you are a propaganda specialist. A person who specializes in propaganda is someone who knows that by telling a story over and over again to the same audience, they will, in time, begin to accept it as gospel truth. Think of television commercials. Joseph Goebbels, the head of German propaganda during World War II said that if you tell a lie often enough the people will begin to believe it as truth. Sadly, and perhaps this is a rather strong analogy, this is what we do to ourselves.
When the stories we tell become the experiences we have through the notion that ‘as we think, so shall we be’ the pain can become overwhelming and potentially intolerable. This is when we look for diversions. Again, some diversions such as internet surfing, can be trivial and simply wastes of precious time and others like substance abuse can have unfortunate and even disastrous effects.
Healing an addiction requires uncovering the truth once and for all. One of the most shocking truths I assist people uncover when they decide to heal an addiction is that most, if not all of the beliefs they live by, are lies. This can be a bitter pill to swallow. When I went through this process I became extremely angry. The realization that I had been lying to myself habitually and living through one addiction after another, was quite an eye-opener to say the least.
Another key component for healing an addiction is NOT to identify yourself with the substance or the behavior. If you do, this perpetuates the same identity you have been holding that is rooted in victim-hood. This causes the continuation of addictive behavior. For example, if you drink alcohol and say ‘I am an alcoholic’, you are identifying yourself AS the addiction. This can lock-in the addiction because you are making it your identity. You are NOT your addiction. Identifying with the symptoms aligns you with behaviors that keep you stuck. If you have been identifying yourself for quite a while AS your addiction, know that there is more to you than your addiction and your addictive behavior. To heal an addiction requires YOU to create a new identity by releasing negative emotions that no longer serve you. This is accomplished through the process of emotional healing. It requires you to tap into the greatness that lives within you and is waiting to come out!
Healing an addiction requires each of us to take our power back. When I speak of power, I speak spiritually, and not physically. In psychology, the term self-actualized is used to describe the end result of being empowered. It is the ultimate destination of one’s life journey: to be comfortable in one’s own skin! This my friends, is called self-love. This is the door that opens to a room where peace and happiness await you.
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to begin to tell yourself a different story. You can do this by first questioning every belief you have. This may sound daunting and even insane, yet I have done this and I will tell you that it gets real positive results. Prior to the new story, is an old story line that at some point in time you will have to be willing to surrender and let go forever. This is about letting go of the past once and for all. This includes the regrets, the guilt, the shame and playing the victim. It also includes letting go of the ‘should haves,’ ‘wished I hads’ and ‘why didn’t I’s.’
Healing an addiction is also about giving up the notion of having to be perfect. Perfection to me is like the tail the dog chases and never seems to realize that it is his tail he is chasing. Perfection is your tail. It is part of you already. Stop chasing it!
No matter what current situation you are in; if you do not love yourself simply because you exist, then healing an addiction will always be an ongoing challenge. Self-love is the ultimate and permanent solution for living a life of peace and happiness. The symptoms are irrelevant. It does not matter if it is chemical or otherwise. If you cannot do it on your own, seek support and guidance.
When you are able to create a new storyline and see ‘you’ as you truly are, all addictions melt away as if they were ice cubes sitting out in the summer sun: here one minute and gone the next. Healing an addiction is a process.
You are not an alcoholic. You are not a drug addict. You are not an over eater. You are a human being who is experiencing emotional pain because of the negative thoughts and beliefs that you have about yourself and the world. To ease that pain, you have been reaching outside yourself for relief. Instead, consider that true healing results from releasing emotional pain from within.
You must turn the knob, go through the door and be willing to create a new environment for yourself. This place is within you. It is your personal shrine of emotional well-being. Feel peace and happiness! After all, it is your birthright!