Is addiction curable? Is real change possible? Are we losing the addiction battle? Why do we settle for dis-ease?
Today we answer some of the most difficult and common questions that people have with regards to addictions, depression anxiety and the like from a spiritual perspective.
We are living in a time when there is more technology, information and opportunity than ever before. However, there is also more confusion than ever before that comes with it all.
People are losing direction, balance and perspective. They over-work trying to over-achieve. They inevitably loose direction and emotional congruence and stability. Perhaps this is why 60 percent of Americans are on some form of daily medication today. They are seeking answers to their distress. But the addiction of it all is that we should be treating overworking in the first place, and not the resulting stress. We are trying to treat solutions and not problems. We are trying to treat conclusions and not the premises. We should be rather treating a lack of awareness and mindfulness that we have lost in the name of busy-ness and more! We should be treating our unbalanced yes’s with no’s, our need for more with satisfaction and our pride with humility. We should be treating addiction, that is by nature always based on more, with a need for less. But this is a hard sell to a competitive, hungry and super-fast moving generation.
The universal addiction most people have, whether they even know it or not, is to keep striving for what they are striving for – even if it doesn’t work! Solutions people offer as an alternative to settling for less are divorce, litigation, compensation and personal reward. But the irony is that these solutions seem to be becoming the problems themselves.
It is remarkable how many people come to treatment and detail a life story of misery and pain that has never quite ceased. They are still looking for solutions, but refuse to look at the problems themselves. The problems we have are usually our own greed, pride, jealousy, stupidity and envy – all too painful to look at – enter an ego defence mechanism of your choice here. We are all addicted to same. Comfortably numb we traverse our lives accumulating same instead of shedding more and more of it. Especially those parts of us that don’t work. But in hindsight, is it their misery and pain that have not ceased or is it them who haven’t been able to do so.
Difficult questions constantly come to the fore about our sad and sorry states today. But as with most addictions, we keep giving the same answers – and many of them are not working. People are afraid of anything new, in fact people inherently despise change and are hooked and dependent on their comfort zones. An inherently additive quality we all have.
Can you cure addiction?
On this planet what I believe is that all things are possible. Context and perspective are always necessary pointers for us to follow as we seek healing, growth or cure. Can you cure anxiety? Yes and no. Much like addiction. Anxiety is an emotion that will always be there for us while we navigate this human experience we call life. Depression curable? Very few of us will ever not be depressed, or low at some point in the future. Depression, addiction and anxiety don’t have to be at such a specific low point of pain for us to deal with them. More often than not, a person who is not dealing with their depression will have some kind of breakdown, or episode that sends them to the psychiatrists office seeking serious and speedy answers to their issues. Others will attempt to mask their depression or anxiety for that matter with prescription medications, or wine, or both for years until a point of no return is reached. What I find however is that these tipping points or life shifts that finally initiate some kind of necessary intervention to bring about change, can come way earlier on, if we learn how to be conscious enough to understand ourselves and our feelings more. Our emotional rock bottoms today are not as necessary as they used to be.
If we believe addiction is not curable are we not perhaps guilty of being addicted to our own way of thinking. I am as allergic to hydrochloric acid as you are. Yet, I need no cure for it. I have learned what to do with it. Sadhguru puts it this way, so for now we’ll go with this perspective. “It depends on what kind of addict you are talking about. There are food addicts, drug addicts, alcohol addicts, sex addicts, suffering addicts, gossip addicts—so many compulsive types of behaviour about a variety of things. Gossip addicts, for example—do you think you can heal them? You can only make them change the subject. If they gossip in a way that is harmful to someone, you can make them gossip in a way that could benefit people. So, is addiction a disease? Any compulsive state takes away the ease from you—in that sense, it is a disease. Is it permanent? No. Even your being alive is not permanent—so where is the question of addiction being permanent?”
Is change possible?
Help abounds everywhere, we just need look for it. An addict need not stay addicted a day longer than they have to once that consciousness comes. An anxious person suffering daily panic can arrest and treat their condition at any given point in time. Not knowing how is thankfully no longer becoming an adequate avoidance mechanism of what needs to be done. “It’s not that bad…I’ll pull myself together…Joe is far worse than me…don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill”, are all common delay tactics people use not to change. Becoming conscious of these tactics needs to become enough for intervention and change. Behaviour never lies. If it hasn’t been working, nothings going to change until we change it. To change is not an easy task. I always tell me clients that change on any significant level is almost impossible. We are so addicted to our thinking, feeling and problem solving that we act almost on automatic to bring about results that don’t resemble change at all. We operate by memory on a deep, even cellular level. It is like a DNA strand that is enmeshed in every decision we make and thus every action we take.
Change is only possible if you are willing. Saying you are willing is not enough. You will have to think, feel and do change repetitively if you want it to stick. You’ll have to scream for it with dedication on the mountain tops if you want change to come and stay; and create something lasting and new for you. Change is impossible if we do things the way we always do things. Einstein’s famous line that doing the same thing and expecting different results, or change in this context, is nothing short of insane. Jesus Christ asked the leaper at the well, “do you want to be healed?” A seemingly strange question to ask a person who has been suffering so badly for 20 years. However I find myself asking this question more and more, because the answer to it is often the pivot that change needs to shift direction. A handful of people over the last decade have been honest enough whilst contemplating change, and deciding to lump it, that they didn’t want or were not ready for change.
Despite their addictions to self and their apparent dis-ease they liked the power trips, the escape, the hedonistic control that their character offered in a world were control is seldom found outside of oneself. Change is possible. But you have to be willing, wanting and wide open, powerless or surrendered in character to reach out for it in desperation and hope. Change seems to want us to be dead certain that it is wanted. Before change allows itself to manifest it will test you, feel you up and down and run you through with it’s potency.
Treatment is much slower than the onset of the problem, so we are losing the battle to addiction. How the hell do we cure addiction?
The addict, just like the non-addict, is looking for a piece of heaven. A slice of nirvana. People want to experience peace right through to ecstasy. People have always done this and have always sought to seek these experiences. The difference today is the confusion on how to get there. In the past people sought these states through the American dream, through differentiation and exploration to the moon and mars. Today they find their idea of heaven firstly in chemical solutions. Our food, water and air is covered in chemicals. The chicken and the egg are both contaminated in chemicals. Our happiness might as well also be chemical. When we seek help for being down, depressed or disturbed we are offered chemicals. When we want ecstasy we seek the same solutions. Even though they don’t work much longer than a wisp of wind. Just try and see a doctor for physical or emotional issues today and try walk away script free.
People need to understand that we already have every chemical we will ever need. We don’t need any more stock in our warehouses, we just need better personal management. We need to react to anxiety not looking for a fix; rather we need to understand why the anxiety showed up in the first place. There are no accidents in this universe. If anxiety comes it’s to show us something. If we don’t listen consciously, pain will come to guide us back to the truth of the matter. Usually in the form of more anxiety. If we need the universe to speak louder, it surely will respond to us with volume and intensity every time.
Change is a conscious, daily process. It is not a one time event. It is etched in your decisions upon sleeping and waking that you make, or don’t make every day. Change involves taking two steps forward and then one back. Change is difficult.
The word transformation in a healing context means to go above your form, or yourself. Trans – above and form – your body and brain. To ‘change’ this is what it takes. It is a non-negotiable journey beyond and out of yourself. Your body and brain function on memory. It is therefore not surprising that we do the same things over and over again. If your brain and body are turning against you then it’s likely you’re not changing a thing. You’re just getting more of what you think and make-up.
Getting out of these ruts requires a system. Systems usually require other people. Self-help, the modern day cure for stress and emotional dis-ease is not an option. We need a more universal perspective. We need a ‘new mind’ as Eckhardt Tolle puts it. We need a complete catharsis and purgation out of our old selves, and our old problems, to find new healthy, sustainable and higher ways of being.
In conclusion as I see it today, the one thing we do know is that the truth shall set you free. Truth is the ultimate elixir and consciousness is the main ingredient. To be able to stop, just stop what we are thinking and doing for long enough to hear what we don’t want to hear, face what we’d rather hide from and seek what at first may seem more painful than pleasurable. This is the road to recovery and to re-salvaging and regaining our true selves in a real and authentic world where both pain and pleasure will always ultimately point us to true north and set us free…free from ourselves.