So long as we’re willing to fully let go of what we no longer want, change is possible. We can’t stop doing something if we’re constantly focused on doing it. We can only do something else, place our focus somewhere else and get on. Once we’ve decided what we need to do, we must be firm, even rigid, when it comes to focusing on something else.
The key to getting over an addiction isn’t a one-time event. It’s a continuous, daily transfer of energy toward another activity. Essentially making the decision to do something else consciously until it becomes natural, an automation. At first, it takes a considerable effort, just like beginning any new activity. This is why we must embrace a beginner’s mindset and cast away the fear and apprehension of being wrong. Getting over addiction takes a considerable amount of self-work, of trial and error, and consistently reminding ourselves of our north star, which is empowering.
We’re addicted to certain things because we’ve associated a significant amount of pleasure with the things we’re addicted to. But this is also in contrast to a tremendous amount of pain we feel powerless to. We believe there is nothing we can do concerning the pain, that we must find a way to numb, take away, forget, escape, or take our attention off the pain. This in no case means we need to find direct opposition in pleasure, which is where we go wrong. If it’s not bad, then it must be good! The opposite of a feeling isn’t another feeling but the absence of it. Life isn’t black and white; there are many subtleties, nuances and variations of colours between black and white. Sometimes making a clearcut definition of good or bad is useful when we need to make split decisions, but you’ll find that if we look a little deeper under the label which represents “the bad”, a lot of the time, there are nuances, contradictions, subtleties and halfway points which are a lot more efficient to understanding something or someone.
This is why the direct opposition of pleasure shouldn’t necessarily be attributed to pain. Nor pain to pleasure. But the halfway point between the two. Addiction is a lack of balance, the need to find an extreme. And while we may believe that the extreme opposition of something is better, we’re caught in the duality of extremes.
The solution often lies in the path of least resistance. Not in the path of most acceptance. It lies where we can construct circumstances, within which we won’t need to resist, and we’re not pulled by anything. Taking a time out, taking ourselves away from whatever causes pain or delivers pleasure, engenders a form of break. A situation where we can gather enough mental strength and redefine, recalibrate, redetermine our most healthy baseline. Not the high of the addiction, nor the lows, but the baseline.
Building a lifestyle around a natural baseline, empowered by all things essential and natural, quickly transforms into a healthy life. After a while, the real source of the pain goes away, and we’re left with its memory. We’re left repeating the pattern of seeking pleasure to deal with it, but it’s gone. We must become conscious of this. As we’re left with a pattern, all we have left to do is transform it into a healthy pattern. To transmute the base metal into gold.
Instead of seeking pleasure, we can now seek results or reattribute our pattern to long term results. We can engage in pleasure delaying and derive healthier pleasures that aren’t detrimental to our health and wellbeing. To get over an addiction, exposing our core emotional wound is important, so we can understand where the pain comes from. It takes courage and resilience to endure the sheer rawness we feel.
In becoming aware of why it happened, we unbind our attachment to a specific event. Understanding what really happened, or how we perceived it, and allowing the emotion to come up to the surface so we can give it our full attention. It’s a mix of being conscious of what happened in the past and why we keep on reacting the way we do due to a traumatic event. When we understand its origin, we depressurise our emotional pressure cooker. We get to turn the emotion off at the source. If there are no enemies, we no longer have to fight.
It’s an out-of-date mindset that keeps interfering with how we perceive reality. We keep going outwards to seek external answers. ‘She did that, he did this, …’ which may be true. But mainly, these will be projections of our own inner happenings, which get triggered by external events. In reality, if we cut off from all externalities and sit with ourselves for a while. We get to observe that we feel a certain way, a discomfort, irascible, we feel angry… And rather than sit with it and give it our attention, we keep on looking for someone outside of ourselves, an external comfort, a substance, something, anything to deal with the numbness and lack of feeling. Something to make us feel alive, in the face of feeling nothing.
Though it’s through this nothingness precisely that we notice that something is wrong, something is off. Something isn’t flowing fluidly. It’s like a blockage. We get to wonder, Why we’re compensating.
What exactly can we do about this lack of emotion? And why do we need to go and be anywhere but where we are right now? What is so scary about the moment right now? What is so bad that we need to run off, binge on junk food, project, go to the other side of the world, pick a fight, get drunk, resort to lusty websites or a chain of women?
What is soo terrifying that we cannot sit with ourselves? What is so bad that we can’t sit here and feel safe? What stops us from being comfortable? As if an unknown Lochness monster was lurking somewhere with big teeth, ready to eat us… Nothing inside us can harm us except our own decision to engage in destructive behaviour.
We must place importance on almost anything else that IS important to us. Rather than get pulled back into thinking about something we no longer want to drift towards. When we think about something, we create a mental image, a vision of sorts. And if the image we create is important to us, or that we derive a sense of gratification or pleasure in imagining (the image within), then we are drawn to the circumstance, and the circumstance is drawn to us as we resonate at the same frequency as it.
Having a goal for the acclimatisation of a neutral or middle ground, rather than striving for the extreme in everything we do. I’ve found that striving for a baseline of neutrality as a primary goal is what creates the most benefits in my life. Feelings, for example. On a day to day basis, if we stay at home with nothing exciting going on, after a few hours, we’ll mostly find ourselves seeking some form of excitement, be that social media, a coffee, exercise, a movie, music… you name it.
And the point of the matter is that we’re uncomfortable with our baseline state a lot of the time. If nothing is going on and no one is there, existential difficulties arise. And we feel like we need to do something to feel like we exist. This inability to do nothing, driven by the fear of not existing, makes us restless and uncomfortable.
We’re excitement junkies, and it doesn’t matter if this is in good things which appreciate our lives or if it is in bad things which destroy our lives. We want to feel more, do more, experience more. This is the major problem, as we develop routines and habits to cope with nothingness.
We strive to stimulate ourselves more, run further, have more money, and feel more excitement. When what we actually need is to decondition ourselves from this addiction to excitement, to extremes, and embrace a more harmonious and peaceful approach to living.
It’s not easy, granted, especially when the entire world around us is living in extremes. And funnily enough, the people who do strive to have a peaceful baseline tend to not be attention-seeking in the first place, which makes them more challenging to encounter. If there were more healthy references for us to pick from, we’d take it as a given that harmony is a successful way to live. Instead, the world seems to contain a lot of noise, disharmonious propagation of anything that will make money. In seeking the middle ground (our neutral baseline), we follow our own rhythm, which determines that we’re following what best works for us. We are our own competition, and we march to the sound of our drum.
Deciding to sit calmly with our feelings and choosing to observe what we feel. There will be a slight discomfort somewhere in our body that we have to accept. Somewhere along the path, somewhere along our journey, we will have attributed this feeling and associated it to good or bad. While the feeling itself is just a feeling, associating it to an action or defining it differently determines how we react to it and use it to our advantage. Taking the time to observe what we feel and understand what we have anchored to this feeling allows us to free ourselves from its attachment.
When we’re confronted with disempowering emotions. We’re carrying around outdated perceptions we believe will save us from a form of pain. However, the schematic blueprints don’t necessarily apply to the reality at hand.
We crafted a blueprint when we thought the emotions we felt were too powerful, and the situation was overwhelming; we believed we didn’t have the tools to cope adequately. We’re really dealing with a snapshot judgment of a circumstance in time we felt inadequate to deal with. Revisiting emotions after a period of time where we’ve gone through experiences and grown allows us to disassociate from disempowering beliefs we once had about something and redetermine a healthier approach to it.
When strong emotions come up, we almost always associate them with action, behaviour, or a vision. When we gather sufficient will and strength to sit, observe, and detach from these emotions, we witness old beliefs and out-of-date perceptions. We get to determine if, after all our evolution from the start until today, what we perceive still bears the same meaning and has the same power over us as it did when we started out. More likely than not, we’ve grown, and the shoe we thought was big when we were children is now tiny compared to the size of our adult foot.
Addiction has a reason, always, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense when we speak it out loud. Generally, the behaviour we engage in, although destructive, serves a purpose. When we engage in addictive behaviour, we seek to cope with something (a recurring pain point, a feeling of lack, a sense of being lesser than something…) difficult. Wanting to experience a form of high, for example, is contrasted and even empowered by the fact we don’t want to experience a form of low.
Drinking coffee is an example of this. We guzzle it down because we believe it will produce energy, for a kick, for a boost. We believe it to be the solution because we feel tired; we feel lower than we think we should be feeling. We believe our baseline feeling of energy should be higher. Therefore we try to compensate, for the lack of energy, with a stimulant. Only by actively letting ourselves experience that low, the lack of energy, can we truly heal our lack of energy. Adding stimulants to the equation is like pouring gasoline on burning woodland we’d like to grow plants on.
Gender Euphoria. Such, as many other addictions, has nothing to do with gender. But instead, the high associated with the medium for obtaining it is a feeling one seeks to reproduce. One strives to enter this state because nothing in our control comes remotely close to it. Nothing compares or produces a feeling worthy of counter-balancing the numb feeling within. Addiction is about understanding and unearthing that numb feeling preventing us from a full experience.
Allowing ourselves to live at our own rhythm, naturally, enables the body to be and do its best and heal. Constantly stressing our body is like harassment; the more you do it, the less it can do its thing and come to its own conclusions. Our body needs to figure out an energetic baseline so it can allocate energy to healing and recovery.
The impression of addiction, for example, often stems from an unmet need. What kind of thinking did we have when the addiction started? Most probably we were feeling powerless, unable to effect any change. We were feeling as if the problem we were confronted with were overwhelming, and we were unable to manage it appropriately. Our brain sought out a shortcut to feel empowered. We were feeling a lack of “power”. Doesn’t the solution to addiction start to resonate, along with “Figuring out how to feel powerful” rather than how to disempower ourselves”? Figuring out how to empower one’s personal feeling of adequacy by taking small steps that build up.