If you are ready to face an addiction – or any other obsession – then here is my challenge to you:
- In order to get back to a place of trust, you will have to learn to trust in other people, trust in yourself, trust in your own definition of God, your Higher Power, or Creator.
- If trust is a “bad” word for you, then find your own word that means or implies reliance on another person or entity.
Please answer this: What might trust have to do with the solution to your current problem?
At the very least, in order to be free of an unhealthy situation, you must have the ability to trust your own judgment and confidently stick with your decisions. To me, the way to get started on doing what is good for you is to apply the concept of Best Interest, which is:
Your Best Interest is served when, whatever it is that you are intending to do,
is going to be done to help you and not to hurt others.
As you become stronger within yourself, and start setting boundaries for how you want to be treated, people who have their own reasons for seeing you a certain way may not like the changes you are making. At the same time, other people may surprise you with the amount of love, support and encouragement they are truly willing to give. Either way, there is no point to being a victim of anyone’s fears and desires. Especially your own.
Let that sink in…
Some people may be quite supportive of your changes and others may, for their own reasons, be almost hostile. Just acknowledge your supporters and ignore your detractors… because their opinions and comments are none of your business and are not worth wasting any time on.
Now it is time to find your way. To figure out how to clearly assess your options, determine a healthy course of action, and confidently stick with your decisions.
Speaking from personal experience, I can also tell you there is a chance that your decision to heal may actually anger, hurt or offend some of your friends and family – if for no other reason than you may be the person they have blamed for their own problems; if you cease being a problem then they are left without a scapegoat. If others are not supportive – no matter what form it takes – it should give you a clue about who you can really count on for support, who has your best interest in mind, and who would rather keep you down for reasons of their own.
There Is Always A Choice
While choice is a simple concept, never confuse simple with easy. The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your choices. When you make choices that are good for you, you feel good about yourself, do good things for others, and enjoy positive experiences. When you make choices that are bad for you, you feel bad about yourself, do bad things to others, and have negative experiences. One road leads to pleasure, the other, pain.
Have you ever wondered why people do things that are clearly harmful to their health? Perhaps it is because they really don’t feel they have a choice.
Let that sink in…
The reason people do things that are clearly harmful to their health may be because they really don’t feel they have a choice and their default position is to just do what they have always done.
The dictionary defines the word habit as “an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary”. This is why the alcoholic reaches for booze, the junkie for drugs, the sex-addict for porn, while the other obsessives pursue the things that don’t work for them. And they do this because they have a subconscious need that must be satisfied, and the bottom line is, they haven’t learned to meet that need in a way that truly serves them. Since they can’t see any other way, they believe that they do not have a choice. They are trapped.
An important point to be made about being trapped in a negative behavior and staying there is, while others may see my behavior as a problem I see it as my solution. I use it in an attempt to solve my problems.
If my default behavior is to drink at my problems, or at my boredom, then I’ll drink… because that is what I have learned to do. Forget right and wrong, good or bad; I drink because it is what I do. As simple as that. Don’t try to use logic on it.
An addiction, meanwhile, is defined as a habit you can’t give up without feeling some adverse effects. In which case, it becomes a matter of accurately assessing those effects, and then making your decision accordingly. In either case, there is one thing you must know in order to break any unwanted habit or addiction: There is always a choice.
The good news is, you already have everything you need to get where you want to go. You have a mind that thinks, a body that feels and acts. The challenge is getting those three parts to agree, especially when your mind keeps trying to control the show.
But who is really in charge of your life? Is it the physical you, or is it the emotional you? Are you the master of your thoughts and behavior? Or are you a slave to your own mental impulses?
Consider your actions in life. At the deepest level, everything you do can be attributed to one of two things: Your need to avoid pain, or your desire to gain pleasure. Test this out for yourself. Think of anything you might do today, and see if it can’t be reduced to one of these primary motivations. Here are a few examples based on my life:
- Read a book? Gain pleasure.
- Pay a bill? Avoid pain.
- Go for a walk? Gain pleasure.
- Lie to an authority figure? Avoid pain.
- Sleep in? Watch a movie? Answer the phone? Maybe a little of both.
The point is, all your actions, even the actions you really don’t like, originate from either a positive or negative impulse. And every impulse is nothing more than a suggestion that your mind has served up for you to do with as you will. The problem is, being unaware of the essential relationship between yourself and your mind, you react to every thought as if it were a command.
So let’s have a look at your thoughts.
You have both negative and positive thoughts to choose from. You have negative thoughts to protect you from danger, and you have positive thoughts to bring you delight. A good way to picture this is having a negative mind that wants to avoid pain, and a positive mind that wants to experience pleasure.
This defines conflict.
To your negative mind, all the potential pleasures in life involve some kind of risk, so it doesn’t want you to go there. And to your positive way of thinking, you can’t fully experience the pleasures in life while holding yourself back, so you disregard the danger.
Picture a woman standing in front of her refrigerator. On the outside she appears quite calm, but inside there’s a battle raging over whether or not she is going to reach in there and grab that slice of chocolate cake. Her positive mind is saying “Mmmm – that cake looks sooo yummy! I need it,” while her negative mind keeps saying “No! Don’t do it! You’re already big as a whale!”
Can you think of a similar example for yourself; a time when you were torn between two possible courses of action? If you do have a similar example, determine for yourself what was the pleasurable experience you wanted, and what was the pain or danger you perceived.
So, now you have your own understanding of what constitutes a conflict within your mind.
The reason you struggle is because you have not yet learned how to effectively direct your mind. You are bouncing back and forth between extremes, with no stability in-between. Because you have no neutral way to objectively assess your situation, you can’t see any other way to meet your needs. Because you don’t see any other options, you remain a victim of your fears and desires.
But there is a path with your name on it – one that takes into consideration both the positive and negative points of view, and enables you to make the right decisions. Those right decisions will be more in line with your true purpose and potential. To find that path, there is one decision that must be made before any other decision will matter:
- Either you are going to find a way to master your thoughts, or you will always be a victim of your own mental impulses.
- Either your mind will serve you, or you will serve your mind.
There is no way to succeed without addressing this simple truth. Now is the time to develop a conscious relationship with your mind. Sometimes it is good to think in negative terms, carefully considering the potential pain, risk, or downside of your actions. And sometimes it is good to think in positive terms, focusing on the potential pleasure, opportunities, or upside of your actions.
But here’s the thing: If you only have those two options, then it’s not really much of a choice. So that’s when you have to be clear. There could be a third option, and that is to simply stop and be neutral for a moment. To look at both sides equally and objectively before deciding what serves you best.
Pain — Neutral — Pleasure.
These are the gears of your mind, just like driving a car.
Backward — Neutral — Forward.
The ability to mentally shift gears (shift your way of thinking) becomes vital when you start seeing that the choices you have in life are not about the things that happen to you. The only real choice you have is the meaning you give to those things.
A popular way of saying it is, “You can’t control the wind, but you can control your sails.” In other words, the power to control the impact of uncontrollable things in your life comes from your ability to decide what those things actually mean to you. This way, you can even use undesirable things to your advantage.
Check to see how this relates to both your positive and negative perceptions and you will probably see how what you choose to believe actually determines your behavior and results.
Always keep this first principle in mind, repeating it again and again until it becomes a natural part of your thought process. “There is always a choice.” There is always a choice about what things really mean to you, and which way you are going to go.
Check out my other blog on cutting ‘bad’ habits and addictions.