Beginnings of Addictions
What is the seed of every addiction? The deep seated belief that we are not ok; that we are in need.
When we hold this belief in the present moment, it colors our perception, becomes our current condition. From here, we extend our perception over time. We interpret the past, gleaning memories, looking at times where we were not-ok, when something came and helped us become more-ok. We look at what came from outside to make us feel better inside.
To be self reliant, independent of addiction, we attend to the ways that we are well, strong, resilient. Our capabilities include caring and empowering ourselves, directing our energy towards our work, immersing ourselves in the here-and-now. When we do not feel ok, we feel reliant, searching for external support, trusting the outside world over our inner strength. We reach for substances to raise our spirits.
When our reaching and reliance is repetitive, when we continue supplying ourselves with the substances that we sought out before, we orient our lives to stay close to the source, seeking alternate sources just-in-case, keeping extra close by just-because.
Extending the pattern from the present into the future, we implicitly believe that not only are we in need right now, but also that we will continue to be in need, to be not-ok in the future. We may be substituting substance for sensations of pain, discomfort, boredom, loneliness, etc.
When we avoid feeling, when we believe we are not-ok-now, what is it that we really seek? It’s not the drugs, the new possessions, the thrilling experiences, binges of comfort food/television/internet that we really want.
Deeply, at the heart of the matter, is the human reach for love, for trust, for completion and the fullness of life.
Why is that hard to recognize? We are accustomed to seeing the search done not-well, not-skillfully, not-consciously.
We look for love, trust, completion in the forms that we recognize, the shape shifting from pure conscious seeing and seeking to the strange but acceptable uses and abuses that are common in our childhood environment, in our current environment.
We continue to seek what we know, exposing ourselves to more of the same, online and in real life. We like and want the people, the pictures, the ideas we already identify with. And when we see something different, we compare, we contrast. We turn our wants into needs, we turn ourselves into needy, we presume that things are not-ok-as-is.
How does wanting and liking become addiction?
First it becomes stressful. The habit of wanting what-is-not divides us from the present moment, which creates conflict. We want to be fully immersed, fully enjoying our lives, but we are instead disconnected from the reality of what-is and connected, instead, to what we think is missing. We feel that there could be, and is, something better, or something more.
Our vision narrows as we seek out what we want. We focus on getting what we like, blinding ourselves to what is presently available, plentiful, workable, tenable. And this is often rewarding: we get what we want, which makes us feel better, so we keep on reaching, striving, tensing, and stressing to get more and more of what we want, or think is missing.
The stress of striving, and living in disconnection from the present, lowers our health and energy. We reach out for the high, and grab onto substance that weighs us down with habits and dependency, instead of empowering our spirits to be free and full, independently.
The easiest addictions are the quick fixes, the common habits, the ones that everyone supports and is already hooked onto: binges of internet, caffeine, shopping, eating, etc. Successes in career and personal lives can be just as addictive: it is not the substance that matters as much as the habit.
In an addiction, we learn a tight pairing. We begin with feeling not-good, then reach out for substances that reliably get us what we want, which is an instant feel-better. We lean on this learnings when we feel low, not realizing that they are a false support, the flimsy cover of a deep well.
What is below?
We need high, clean, conscious energy to see. First, we unpair the behaviors. We notice when we feel not-ok, and we sit with that until we unlearn the reactivity to not-ok. We learn to be present, to gather our spirit, faith, strength, and love-trust in self.
With that sense of centered present, we can look at what is hidden by addictions, we can be bulled into the well within us, drain the old emotions and unhelpful beliefs. We can release what is not-needed, clean what is foundational, and clear out the way we work with our structures in mind and body. We can explore ourselves, and choose to keep that inner clarity, the true freedom of independence.