Image is courtesy of Lucie Stastkova
You’re extremely disgusted with an old habit. You’re ranting. You’re pacing. You’re regurgitating. You’re spent. You pick yourself up from the floor, dry your tears, and swear on your life that this is the last time. You throw away all accouterments, all paraphernalia, all reminders of the loathed and dreaded addiction. You make it through the day with firm resolve. Then you awaken the following morning with an insatiable craving. You recall your commitment and fight doggedly not to give in. You argue with yourself. You become frustrated. The stress grows into a pressing mass in your belly. Then suddenly… a comforting thought: One more day won’t hurt! You acquiesce. You give in. And the roller coaster ride begins…
A teacher once told me that the masters, the avatars, often carry an addiction in order to stay in form — to remain incarnate. She explained that the addiction weights them down, anchors them in the physical, and without it they would ascend into the realm of spirit. This implies choice. It implies that they’re in charge. It suggests they have power over their thoughts and actions.
But most of us mortals fall prey to addiction unconsciously, without awareness. Prompted by pleasure or necessity, we engage in an activity that, over time, becomes a habit — a predator – a persecutor. And we soon learn how difficult it can be to break its hold on us.
Addiction controls us because if we let it go, a void is created, a void that the subconscious mind fears and seeks to fill. If we have nothing at the ready with which to replace it, the old and familiar will quickly return, like water filling a hole.
The most effective way to let go the old is to simultaneously bring in the new.
The subconscious mind seeks to serve. And it will stop at almost nothing to do so. It’s very clever. It sends encoded messages to the conscious mind in an attempt to meet what it perceives as our needs. When an addiction – the familiar, the habitual – is let go without immediate replacement, the subconscious becomes desperate. It may believe that it will die if we give up that which pleases and satisfies. But to send this message to the conscious would be futile, because our awareness knows it’s not true. So the subconscious encodes this belief into a message designed to convince us that it’s OK – perhaps even beneficial – to defer change. It assures us that it won’t hurt to start tomorrow, and it most likely will display a laundry list of reasons why this is so.
You decide to quit smoking. You throw away your last pack of cigarettes before going to bed. You sleep fitfully. You awaken the next morning with an overwhelming desire to smoke. You recall your commitment and make a noble effort to talk yourself down. You engage in some busy work, but the craving shadows you. Placating messages begin to take hold. You remember that there were cigarettes left in the pack you discarded. You tell yourself it won’t hurt to smoke the few that are left. You give in. When the cigarettes are gone by midday, you decide it would be better to quit in the morning after a full night of not smoking. So you go out and buy another pack. But since you’re not a pack-a-day smoker, there are cigarettes remaining once again before you go to bed. And the cycle repeats.
The subconscious never sleeps. It always has a ready excuse, a convincing reason to stay with the familiar and not initiate a change that it fears might threaten its survival. If we don’t control its programming, it will control our every thought and action. The good news is that we embedded the programming – consciously or otherwise – thus, we can change it. But before we delete the old program, it would be wise to have a new one ready to take its place. It need not be as pleasurable as the old one, but it should be equally, if not more satisfying. We must sit at the keyboard and enter the appropriate data. This new program should be beneficial to body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Unlike addiction, which serves the baser self, the new program must serve the higher self.
To ensure success we must first write the program, enter it, and then test it. As soon as the new program is up and running, the old one must be deleted — immediately. Otherwise, instead of a void that the subconscious will assuredly rush to fill, we’ll have an addiction with a sidekick. The timing is crucial. The old program must be deleted as soon as the new one is in place, whether or not all the bugs are worked out. On the contrary, this could work in our favor. Fine-tuning the new program will occupy the conscious mind and give us something other than the addiction – something beneficial — on which to focus.
Now you might wonder: What happens if I become addicted to debugging? A better question would be: Does it serve or does it harm? If it serves, perish the thought. If it harms, initiate a new approach. There are many layers to addiction. The outer, most obvious layer is our behavior manifest, e.g., smoking, taking drugs, codependence. We begin here. We begin with what we can see. Then as we become accustomed to the new behavior, we start to peel away the layers, one at a time, until we reach the core. The way out is the way in.
It’s also important to recognize the power of words. When referring to a behavior or condition we want to change, replacing the word “my” (my addiction) with the word “the” (the addiction) may prove helpful. This begins the process of letting go. There’s a difference between owning a behavior and identifying with it. It’s imperative to acknowledge that we perpetuate the behavior, but it’s also crucial to recognize that we are not our addictions.
Become still. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and relax every muscle in your body. Take in 3 deep breaths, slowly, holding each one for a few moments before exhaling. Now go to your special place within, the place where you feel at peace. Acknowledge the sights, sounds, smells. Touch what pleases you and notice how it feels. If your mind begins to wander, focus on your breathing for a moment or two, then return to your special place. Engage your surroundings. Enjoy. Interact with all you encounter. Give thanks. Allow yourself to feel satisfaction. Allow yourself to fill with light. Move into gratitude for all that you have and all that you are. When you feel complete, slowly open your eyes, stretch your entire body, take in several deep breaths, then exhale slowly and completely. Notice the lack of tension. Notice the inner peace.
In order to implement change, we must first give ourselves the tools with which to do so. And then we must take action. We need to sit at the helm and steer unwavering in the direction we wish to go. If we relapse, the best approach is objectivity. Reproval doesn’t work; it serves only to make us feel bad. Instead, witness what occurred. Take note of what didn’t work, make revisions, implement them, then continue moving forward. And above all, forgive yourself your imperfections. Even if we have to repeat this process several times, it’s better than the alternative. It’s better than a life condemned to addiction.
The way out is the way in. It may be difficult and demanding at times, but the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. We’ll glean a heightened sense of satisfaction from our achievements. The new life we’ve fashioned will endow us with a new-found freedom. We’ll become master of our destiny. And this, my friends, is what life on Mother Earth is all about.
Until the next time, walk in beauty…