“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.”
– Carlos Castaneda
Earlier in my life I was addicted to drugs. Then alcohol. Then martial arts. Then adrenaline. Nearly anything that made me forget the pain would do. Later I became addicted to knowledge and learning. At the moment I am addicted to chocolate pudding and Bob Dylan.
Nearly everyone has some form of addiction. Addictions are born from the belief that we are not complete as we are. That we need to look outside ourselves for something that will fill the void, complete us in someway, and take away the pain. Rather than going through the emotions, we reach for something to numb them out.
It doesn’t matter what your addiction is to – drugs, love, sex, drama, even spiritual teachings – it all comes from the same source of incompleteness. We think that people, thoughts, or things outside of us can fill that bottomless pit of hunger in our being.
Feelings and thoughts come and go. That’s all that the pain is – just a feeling that needs to pass through, so you can learn from it.
I’ve had friends and family members who have died from addictions. Because they never faced the source of their pain. What a waste. Often, we spend more energy in trying to avoid the pain, than it would take to just look at it and let it come out. So, that’s what it was all about? Some rejected feelings that got blown out of proportion.
If you are addicted to something you are out of touch with your emotions and need to ask yourself the following questions:
What do I avoid and reject?
What emotions have I not allowed myself to fully process and feel?
What truth about my life am I not facing?
If you don’t meet your pain, it will come to meet you. Chances are you will be out of your favorite drug-of-choice when it happens. Then what? You can either face the pain directly or perish. Accept the reality of this moment or exhaust yourself by fighting and resisting it.
The emotional band-aid that the addiction provides disappears as easily as it came to be. Then, we’re left with the void again; in an endless cycle of seeking external fulfillment. The pain never goes away by hiding it. It’s always there, only numbed out and in exile. I’ve realized with my own addictions over the years, that I can never escape something that is part of me. I can only accept it, try to understand it and then transform it.
Truth is that nothing “out there” can complete us. Because we are already complete. Only somehow we’ve forgotten this. Feeling the pain of existence is vital. The more we allow ourselves to feel, the more understanding we develop, and the more healing can take place.
There is no right or wrong. It’s all just LIFE.
We think of something as good or bad, right or wrong, because we were born with the idea of separation and duality. Black and white. Hot and cold. Pain and pleasure.
Putting labels on everything makes us more comfortable. But, can we ever really and truly know what something is? It surely doesn’t get any better because we know. To know that I am in pain doesn’t bring any relief.
You can call it what you want, join groups and try to force yourself out of the addiction, but you’re never gonna be in complete recovery, until you understand and process the root of the pain.
Besides, nobody is perfect.
There is no such a thing as perfect. It’s only a story you’ve made up.
I still struggle with the search of external happiness. What helps me get through it is that I allow myself to FEEL the pain and emptiness, instead of trying to hide from it.
If we knew without a question and not just as an abstract thought, that we are all connected to one source of life, would there be a need to search for something on the outside to complete us? I think not. We would see that we already are, and already have everything we could ever want, and most importantly, that we are never alone.
Image by: Jordan Sanchez