Every now and then, I hear of someone who’s on a diet and refuses to eat out with her friends because she’s afraid of yielding to temptation. Or the ex-smoker or drinker who no longer socialises with his buddies to stay away from temptation.
While I agree that the best environment for kicking an addiction is one that is removed from temptation (and probably essential in the early stages), that temptation must eventually be dealt with too, for the addiction to be completely healed.
The objects of addiction – drugs, alchohol, TV, internet, porn, food – will always be around, somewhere in our world. We can’t control their whereabouts nor wipe out their existence. If your abstinence is dependent on the absence of these things, then it follows that if they surfaced you would fall back to your addiction.
We may be able to avoid the addicted object by staying away from certain places and people, but true freedom is when that bottle is three feet away from you and you feel fine with being where you are. Even if it is causing you some discomfort which challenges your resolve, you are not angry or bitter about it. You take note of the responses in your body, move through your feelings, and emerge from that ‘contact’ stronger and wiser.
When I say “dealing with the temptation”, I mean reconciling the energy of tension between you and the addicted object. If you’ve been abstaining from an addiction, at some point it’d be good to also work on the tension of temptation.
Most conventional therapies for addiction do not go near the object of addiction and work instead from an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach. I believe that when we put aside our fears and step closer to that energy, a deeper kind of healing can occur – a healing that will leave the person more whole and self-sufficient.
In psycho-energetic terms, there is a huge amount of energy that is being pulled into existence and built overtime when we play out the internal dynamics of alternately reaching out obsessively for that addiction and resisting it. This creates a tension, which causes a great deal of discomfort whenever you come close to or think about the addicted object. This tension is what pulls you to indulge in your addiction. Without addressing this tension, you may be able to control your addiction to a certain extent by avoiding it but you are more likely to yield to temptation as soon as you are exposed to it again.
How do you reconcile the energies between you and the addicted object? Focus on your addiction until you feel the tension. You can do this by either thinking about it or actually having it within your field of vision. You can start off by just thinking about it and progress to having it in front of you and then having it closer to you. The shorter the distance to you, the greater the tension.
Focus on it until you feel the tension building up. As the tension increases, you’ll feel more pull towards it. After some time, it will not be able to hold itself, until it breaks apart. As the tension breaks, it releases a huge amount of energy; some of it will flow back to the addicted object and some will flow back to you.
We give out a lot of energy to keep our addictions alive. This is the energy that is being released as the tension breaks. When some of this energy flows back to the addicted item, it neutralises the pull from the object, while the rest of the energy that flows back to you will neutralise the force of your yielding to the item. You can help build the energy faster towards breaking point by intending that outcome.
As the tension increases, it may draw out symptoms of withdrawal (most symptoms are psychologically induced). These symptoms are part of the tension – the more intense the symptoms, the greater the tension; the greater the tension, the more potential power it can yield when it breaks. Keep focusing on it and resist yielding to it until the energies are reconciled.
I believe that reconciling the energies of temptation is an important component in the process of overcoming addiction holistically. The other components are:
1. Reconciling the Parts of You that are in Conflict. Basically, a part of you wants to stop but can’t, and a part of you doesn’t want to stop but can. The aim is to switch them around so that the part of you that wants to stop can stop.
2. Active Reconciliation. Change the balance between indulging and not indulging in the addiction by increasing your sense of joy during your non-indulgence moments. Replace it with other activities that give you real fulfilment. Deepen into the moment and expand yourself to a state of pure, undiluted joy – hence, changing your associations (i.e. pleasure with indulgence and pain with non-indulgence).
3. Dealing with Withdrawal Symptoms. Begin by accepting that there may be temporary feelings of discomfort and overcoming your fear of what you expect to be unpleasant. Change your association – instead of seeing the symptoms as bad, see them as positive effects of you winning over your addiction.
4. Cleaning Up Your Beliefs. Examine and challenge the beliefs you’ve created to justify your habit. Look honestly at the price you’re paying for your addiction, the negative consequences. Consider how giving it up will enrich your life. What is your deeper purpose, your true motivation for your addiction?
5. Changing Your Environment. Change your routines and schedules to break the energetic structure that mirrors your previous behaviours, or move to a new environment to displace the negative energies associated with your addiction. Once you’ve successfully ended your addiction, you’ll be able to move in and out of the old environment without it being a big deal. This is the true test of whether you have successfully given up your addiction.
I will expand on these other components in future postings.