As far as I know, everyone has at least one addiction. Whether you are addicted to alcohol, illegal drugs, medications, other people’s approval, food, the need to be right, or sports that put your life at risk—if you are human you are probably addicted to something. Why?
Addictions are where we go when we are too frightened to witness our own truth, and most of us are hiding from something. If we weren’t hiding, we’d be spiritually and physically free from any kind of pain.
I like how Louise Hay classifies addiction: Running from the self. Fear. Not knowing how to love the self.
Now remember, these are not definitions about the physical relationship to addictive substances, with an understanding of addiction based on a chemical reactions occurring in the body in response to a substance. This is about the metaphysical and spiritual nature beneath the addiction. Addiction is a place to hide.
When we are under the influence of whatever we are addicted to our lives actually play out in fairly predictable ways. Entire dramas unfold that we are quite familiar with. And while we are dealing with all of the repercussions of our choices, we are not looking inward. Our focus is external, attending to the consequences of our choices. External focus is a great place to hide from internal pain.
If we do stop and look inward, we are often so disgusted with ourselves that we don’t stay in there very long, finding escape once again through our addiction and/or more of the drama we create to avoid that painful place inside of us.
Truth can be darned uncomfortable. Yet, it also is where we find our freedom. The way we find that freedom is by being present to our uncomfortable truths in compassion. When we stop defending our right to be rude, self-absorbed, thoughtless, vindicated, angry, resentful, feel sorry for ourselves, or live in pain and suffering, and instead give ourselves permission to be in compassion with the experiences that have caused us to be in our emotional and physical pain, we begin a journey of freedom from our addictions.
It is the wounded parts of ourselves that become addicted. When the wounded aspects of ourselves are met with our own love, we no longer need to hide. The wounds are treatable and the remedy is compassion.
When you are ready to break free from an addiction and make the decision to be compassionately truthful with yourself, be aware that most of us have spent some significant portion of our lives learning how to avoid our truths. In fact, we get pretty good at convincing ourselves that a tiny bit of self-honesty is enough. We can be slippery, as we slide right past the deeper hurts.
But you can’t find ultimate freedom without deep truth. So, you may find it helpful to enlist someone in your life that you trust to help you stay focused and honest, when you try to slide on by. Good friends know when we are being less than fully truthful with ourselves and they make sure we honor ourselves fully with complete honesty.
So if you know you are addicted to something, you might want to begin by talking to the part of yourself that is feeling particularly vulnerable and scared. Let that part of you know that you can handle the truth, and you are willing to do so for your ultimate well-being. Create safe space for the scared part of you to finally get to speak. You deserve to be heard, understood and loved—even the parts that cause you to feel shame.
Each of us is the result of a planetary history of abuse where we have been abused and we have been the abuser. If we are ever going to end that cycle, we need to understand that abusers have been abused, and the potential to be the abuser or the victim live inside each of us.
We are the ones that can put an end to the struggle, that drama, between the one being abused and the one being the abuser, as it is played out internally and externally. When we are engaged in addictive behavior, we are abusing ourselves.
Many of us can meet the victim within us with some degree of compassion. Finding compassion for the part of us that has the potential to abuse is the greater work, and demands the greatest compassion. It is the abuser within us that we run away from, and try to hide from. And that is the part of us that most needs our love.
Have courage. You have a greater capacity to love than you may realize. Look around you. There are many people that have met and found peace with the victim and the abuser within themselves, and they felt just like you at one time. The minute you decide to stop running and sit still in compassion, you too will be on your way to finding freedom from your addiction.