WE’RE ALL ADDICTS…
HOW DO YOU SELF-MEDICATE?

In my last post, I finished the article with the heading “Identifying The Daily Tactics You Use to Avoid Reality”, I followed on by saying that this time of the year, quite possibly motivated by over-consumption, we’re inclined to revisit and consider new year resolutions with the view to improve our betterment.

I suggested that if you, like so many others this time of the year, find yourself in this position, tossing around ideas, and possibly ‘bullying yourself’ that you need to implement betterment-changes, such as…. ‘should‘ eat better, lose weight and  exercise more, cut back on the booze, give up smoking, or earn more money, get a bigger house, stop being impatient, or a miserable sod…then before ‘loading additional stress’ onto your already ‘busy’ day by joining a gym and starting an unsustainable “fat-burning” training regime, or committing to a unsatisfying & non-satiating new ‘healthy’ eating regime, or, going cold-turkey, resisting the cancer sticks, or handing in your resignation – maybe consider spending some time to reflect and audit your day to see where you can not only start reducing and relinquishing detrimental behaviours, but in some ways, and more importantly, supply-yourself with some much needed clear freedom of thought, so you can access your reasoned-mind, to make better choices for yourself – rather than making rash, unconscious, knee-jerk, costly, unsustainable and time wasting ‘decisions’…that will more than likely fall by the wayside, and see a return of the very behaviours you were endeavouring to improve or relinquish in the first place.

I’m not suggesting that efforts shouldn’t be applied to resisting and curbing our habits contrary to our health-wealth. I’m suggesting dedicating a little bit of time (like 30 minutes everyday, or 2% of your day) to finding out why you’re doing what you’re doing…

And it’s here, in this disciplined self-imposed state of calm where you just might recognise the tactics, you use, to avoid reality.
It’s here where you can take stock and look at the habits you are funding – and ask yourself:
‘What is the ROI on these habits?,
‘What’s the dividend payout, is it contributing to my health wealth, or robbing me from myself?
It’s our thinking and doing, the habits and behaviours we choose, that positions our life-trajectory and how we interact and respond.

We don’t choose our lifestyle, we choose our habits and its our habits the creates our lifestyle

If you, like most, are wanting to establish betterment behaviours this year – then first identify your thinking and doing that is, and has, kept you doing the same things over n over… yet still yearning for a different, better outcome

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
-Albert Einstein

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Swap Drama Karma for Calmer Karma 

The buddhist definition of ‘Karma’ is a Sanskrit term that literally means “action” or “doing”. In the Buddhist tradition, karma refers to action driven by intention which leads to future consequence.
We often use the word karma, often directed at others, when they do or say something bad, and that those words and actions will, at some stage, come back and bite them on the arse.

For the purpose of this article, I’ll unpack karma simply as a metric whereby every action that we take is either a personal vote (action) for self-kindness or a personal vote (action) for self-destruction.

Sounds simplistic and it is(n’t)

“If” propagating a calmer mind to access our own reasoned thoughts is the key to making improved choices for ourselves, and thus elevating the quality of our problems. Then would it make sense that we not only introduce daily mindfulness practices to create the cognitive space to think best for ourselves, but also seek and gently, kindly ‘arrest’ the behaviours and habits (the thinking & doing) that interrupt and stifle our ability to practice ‘calm’?

It’s going to feel completely counterintuitive
Accessing our calm, seeking quietude and reflecting, quite often on how beautifully messed up we are, certainly doesn’t sound like a ripper of a time, mainly because it’s the complete opposite to the distractions we all love to mindlessly embrace.

Drinking, smoking, dropping pills, being consistently angry, shopping, gaming, ‘porning’, gossiping are all perceived as much better ‘fun’ – and, keep us a very comfortable arms-length away from ourselves.
This delusional behaviour, and to reference Einstein once more, becomes our own personal prison. Sadder yet we become increasingly unnerved at the possibility of freedom…as in, the thought of relinquishing our drama/distraction is inconceivable “e.g. how will I socialise with my friends if I can’t drink”

So yes…it can be a little unnerving.

We’re all addicts…how do you self-medicate?
In her book “The Places That Scare You” Pema Chödrön says “Finding the courage to go to the places that scare us cannot happen without compassionate inquiry into the workings of the ego”.
So we kindly ask ourselves:
“What do I do when I feel I can’t handle what’s going on?
Where do I look for strength and in what do I place my trust?’
Do I turn to alcohol or food?
Do I cheer myself up with drugs or sex, or do I seek adventure?
Do I prefer retreating into the beauty of nature or into the delicious world provided by a really good book?
Do I fill up the space by making phones calls, surfing the net, scrolling through social media, or by watching hours of Netflix?
Some of the methods are both dangerous and unhealthy, some are humorous and others quite benign.

The point is, we’re all addicts and that we all use and misuse substances or activities to run away from insecurity/ourselves – it is here where we can remain, repeating the behaviours from years and decades past.
It’s here where we can’t get any lasting satisfaction no matter how hard we try – instead the very feelings, habits and behaviours we’re trying to escape only get stronger.

Seeking calm, finding courage to observe, with humour, patience and kindness – and avoid getting overly serious, moralistic, or uptight about this self-investigation, will slowly, very slowly reveal the parts of you that are within you, these cracks of light appear, which you can now befriend.

 

WHY WE ARE ALL ADDICTS?
We can all tend to rely upon the tragically cliched images of ‘the addict’: an individual nursing a cask of wine on the side of the road, a heroin user in the nearby park, a crystal meth addict maniacally searching through skip bins, or the individual who’s regularly sneaking off to the bathroom for a line of coke. (apparently that’s how its done)
However extreme and tragic these addiction afflictions might be, they are staggeringly reassuring to most of us – because they position geographically, both physically and psychologically, somewhere just out of sight, and placed well and truly in the land of semi-criminality.

These examples prove to be dangerously flattering, categorising addiction in a way that lets most of us off the hook – whilst at the same time, can cut us off from identifying and therefore sympathising for the most wretched victims of addiction.

Maybe the truth is though, there are far more addict that we think. If we are to look at the matter face-on: are we all pretty much addicts? The offical (and alarming) statistics on the consumption of alcohol, illicit and ‘legally-dispensed’ drugs doesn’t even begin to give a fair representation of the issue.

We possibility need to define addiction in a new way: addiction is the manic reliance on something, anything, in order to keep our dark or unsettling thoughts at bay.

What properly indicates addiction is not what someone is addicted to, for we can get addicted to pretty much anything. It is the motives behind their reliance on it – and, in particular, their desire to avoid encountering the contents of their own mind.

Being inside our own minds is, for most of us, and very understandably, a deeply anxiety-inducing prospect. We are filled with thoughts we don’t want properly to entertain and feelings we are desperate not to feel. There is an infinite amount we are angry and sad about that it would take an uncommon degree of courage to face. We experience a host of fantasies and desires that we have a huge incentive to disavow, because of the extent to which they violate our self-image and our more normative commitments.

We shouldn’t pride ourselves because we aren’t injecting something into our veins. Almost certainly, we are doing something with equal commitment. We are checking the news at four minute intervals, to keep the news from ourselves at bay. We’re uncontrollably angry, We’re doing excessive exercise, exhausting our bodies in the hope of not having to hear from our minds. We’re using work to get away from the true internal work we’re shirking. The most compelling addictions sound very righteous to the world.Ref: The School of Life

A simple yet startling exercise to get a better measure of our levels of addiction, we need only to consider when was the last time we were able to sit alone in a room with our own thoughts, without distraction, free associating, daring to wander into the past and the future, allowing ourselves to feel pain, desire, regret and excitement – this process may enable us to start and think how much we actually have in common with ‘traditional addicts’, coming face to face with them we’re not actually meeting anything especially foreign, just possibly a part of ourselves in a less respectable form – offering us new opportunities to exercise kindness, towards them, and us.

We shouldn’t expect that we can ever overcome all addiction forever: it’s simply to find our way to the least harmful and most beneficial kinds of addiction.

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The Leonard Cohen song ‘I Can’t Forget’ was my personal-anthem in my 30’s…it captured my then addicted/distracted/destructive lifestyle, and I how both struggled and maniacally-laughed at the circumstance(s) I placed myself in.
In true Cohen laconic style, his opening lyrics to the song poetically illustrate the drama karma/ negative loop I had created for myself at the time…

I stumbled out of bed
I got ready for the struggle
I smoked a cigarette
And I tightened up my gut
I said this can’t be me
Must be my double
And I can’t forget, I can’t forget
I can’t forget but I don’t remember what

Twist In My Sobriety
That was some 17 years ago, and though there were relapses, failures & fuck ups – there was a smattering of depression, quite an impressive shopping addiction, failed relationships, career failures, bankruptcy, fitness addiction and health dogmatism (just to name a few), plus a bunch of significant wins and successes, I’ve slowly crawled, danced, climbed, side-stepped, burpeed, pushed and pulled my way to effectively swapping, one by one, my drama karma addictions for what could only be described as calmer karma addictions.

Rather than funding actions and behaviours that enabled me to drink, snort, and be a momental dick to myself, and others, I now, very affordably I have to say, fund a lifestyle that supports my ability to be disciplined to eating the best I can, being dedicated to my health-wealth, exercising and keep fit and strong, to think the best I can and to continue to learn, read and educate myself…these are now my self-medicating, everyday macro-tactics that not only keep me living in reality, but disciplined to live as simply and as calmly as possible in the bonkers-ville, hectic-reality we now find on our doorstep.

I AM NOT WHAT HAPPENED TO ME,
I AM WHAT I CHOOSE TO BECOME.

-Carl Jung