“’Addictions’ We All Have ‘Em”: Healing Addictions Through 8 Elements of Self Nourishment

“Addiction” as I see it is a way to fill space and time. Space and time that we are not quite sure what to do with. Perhaps we turned to the addiction initially because we lacked sound guidance, teaching and direction and/or because we experienced very negative situations, feelings and thoughts in our lives. So we turned to the things closest to us in order to make ourselves feel good. I use the term addiction here in a very broad sense to connote anything that we do, think or feel that we do in excess and as a means to avoid doing, thinking or feeling healthier. I always find that it helps to visually see a list of common addictions so that we know and understand that these addictions are very typical, we are not alone in them, and many others share similar patterns of behavior, thought and feeling. Plus, I believe it’s just all around healing to bring our little skeletons out from the closet so they can dance and play in the waking hours of the daylight.

So here we go… Common addictions are: to a job or career, to advancement, to recognition, to money, to positive attention or accolades, to negative attention, to thoughts, to emotions, to the to-do list, to the go-go-go lifestyle, to women, to men, to pornography, to masturbation, to food, to one’s physical appearance, to being in physical pain, to music, to videogames, to going to the doctor, to exercise, to not exercising, to clothes, to trying to “help” others, to trying to “help” yourself, to cleaning, to drama, to relationships, to engaging in family dynamics, to enabling someone else’s addiction… ah! I’m out of typing breath. I even include “obsessive compulsive” like behaviours in this broad definition of addiction, like washing hands too often, physically picking at yourself or playing with certain areas of your body, needing to triple check things, cleaning particular items, and the list goes on. We can even be addicted to learning how to stop our addictions. Bottom line, WE ALL have some form of addiction at some point in our lives. And many of us are now seeing these addictions for what they are and are in a space of wanting and needing to move on from them.

But of course, not without struggle. Why do we turn back to our addiction(s)? Because it is something that is learned and we are accustomed to, yes… but most of all, I believe it is because when we remove the addiction(s), there is this big open space that we have no idea what to do with! It’s friggin’ scary! It leaves us feeling exposed and vulnerable, open and unprotected. And so we turn back to our little addiction(s) that feel safe and comfortable, despite the fact that they are slowly (or quickly) chipping away at our physical, mental, emotional well being: our essence.

I’m in the process of giving up one of my addictions. An addiction to thinking and feeling about certain people and situations of my past. These thoughts and feelings of my past provided me comfort at a time when I needed it. This particular addiction helped me to survive great losses in my life and helped to bring a good feeling when I was feeling so low. This addiction served me well. So I pay much respect and appreciation to this addiction because without it, I may not have survived the struggle and strife that I endured in my past as well as I did. Now, however, I am in a different space of my life. I have a beautiful, loving, and secure family. I have the most precious friends who love and care about me, and I them. I have a wonderful, fulfilling career where I work with amazing, resilient individuals. The future looks bright and beautiful. Yes, there may be hardships around the corner that I cannot control. But I do not need to hang on to my addiction in order to brace myself for those possible hardships. All they will do is leave me handicapped and unable to deal effectively with those possible hardships. I no longer need to think or feel about these particular people and places. They are no longer serving me. In fact, they are dragging me down to a place where I do not need to be. Which is disconnected from my true nature and all that I am. What I need for My health, growth and success, is to allow myself to put down this addiction like I would a big heavy bag that is weighing too much on me, and to simply: Be with the True Me.

So I figure I need to solidify EIGHT elements within my being in order to fully give up my addiction and embrace the space that is being provided to me to find my true self and to be my true self. #1: Acceptance. Acceptance that I did not get everything that I wanted in the past and that there is purpose and reason for me not getting what I wanted in that period of time. As well as the Acceptance that it is time for me to move on as I am no longer meant to be in that space of addiction any longer. And finally, the acceptance of my self for being human and engaging in this addiction. #2 and just as beautiful, if not more than number one: Grace. Grace to forgive myself for hiding my True Self and indulging in this addiction. As well as Grace to help me to be gentle with myself should I continue to hang on, at times, to these thoughts. #3 Awareness that I am not alone. That I have an audience that will receive TRUE ME well. Even if that audience is just one person. That one “little” person can help me to build a conglomerate of happiness and fulfillment. Afterall, we are social creatures and need others in order to exist well. Which requires seeing and feeling the individuals that are watching me, that are feeling me, that are listening to me and wanting to know who and what I am about. Which leads me to #4, some modicum of Faith that when I exist in my True Self space that others who are like minded and like hearted will be attracted to me and what I have to offer to this world. #5 Protection. Protection for when I am in that exposed, vulnerable, and innocent space of being the True, Authentic Me, that I have all the tools, resources and abilities necessary to shield myself from people who may want to take advantage of, or project negativities at me. #6 Space. The ability to create space, breathing room and distance between addictive thoughts, actions or feelings. If we were to think about it on a timeline of 1 to 20 where there is equal space between each number and I typically engage in the thought at point 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, etc., then it would be about skipping a few numbers more often so that I would use the thought at point 1, 6, 13 and 16. In musical terms, this is called a resting point and it is much needed in order to play a note effectively and powerfully. #7 Double “P”: Patience & Perseverance. Yes, I have joined these two together because without patience, you can’t persevere, and without perseverance, there would be no need for patience. It is quite the journey, giving up an addiction; particularly if it is a long-standing one. Patience & Perseverance will definitely go a long way in helping us to keep on walking the journey. #8 Belief. Belief in My Self. Belief that I have within me what it takes to be free of this addiction. Belief that I am someone truly special and unique and that I have a purpose in this life that extends far beyond thinking in my head. On that note, I and my beautiful child within, have lovingly termed this Octagon of nourishment: the Cauldron of Hope.

One of the most powerful and significant tools I use in therapy is creative visualization. I want to use it now to help you try an experiment with me. If you feel ready to loosen up the grip of one of your addictions, when you have an urge to “bathe” in that addiction… instead, go to a quiet place and imagine yourself dipping into that Cauldron of Hope. Imagine your favourite colours in the water, your favourite scents, your inner child’s favourite bath toys! Imagine the water sparkling and shining with hope, possibility, your dreams and ambitions, creativity and imagination. Imagine the contents in the cauldron and these 8 nourishing elements cleansing and purifying your body, your heart, your soul. While imagining this put your hand on you heart and give it a soothing rub. Tell yourself, “I Love, Appreciate and Respect you My Heart”. Show gratitude for your heart while you are bathing in this Cauldron of Hope. Tough things may come out of the cauldron, like a very hurt heart or a very anxious and scared inner child. Beautiful & Wonderful things may come out of that cauldron, like childhood visions once lost, feelings of lightness, calm or elation. Whatever it is, will be the very things that you need to help you to become the True You, free of addiction.

Driving to the mall to do some last minute Christmas shopping, I saw a man’s hand holding a smoke out of the window of his truck… “oh the sweet irony”, I thought. On his arm, there was beautiful lettering, “THIS IS MY TIME,” it read. I was reading this while listening to a very inspiring “The Cello Song” by Steven Sharp Nelson. “Yes!!” I said to myself. “It truly is My Time!” These addictions do not define me. They are not who I am. I am something much stronger and more profound then that! And it is My Time to experience my own strengths and profoundness with myself and with others! Now… “If only the man could put down the cigarette so I could have a full clear view of his beautiful tattoo.” ;)

Wishing you all the best on your journey of putting down your addictions to be the True, Authentic You!

Happy 2016!!

The Cello Song by Steven Sharp Nelson