Content and Authentic
Happy Mental Health Monday! Here’s a little post about overcoming addiction. This is from my personal perspective, not meant as professional health advice. (For a different option, here is the National Institute on Drug Abuse approach.) I hope you find this caring and nonjudgmental. Maybe it is helpful even if you aren’t specifically dealing with addiction, but simply striving to be your content and authentic self.
My perception is that every story of addiction is different. Using the Enneagram, I identify my personality as type 7- The Enthusiast, and that means I’m motivated by pain avoidance. So in my perspective, the main plot is that a person feels bad and uses something to feel something other than that bad feeling. At some point the use can shift to abuse; in other words, the use hurts health - physical, mental / emotional, and/or relational. The use/abuse brings more bad feelings, and leads away from the life the person wants. I’m using the word addiction to describe this time when the use is damaging, interfering with what someone wants, and/or compulsive rather than by conscious choice.
Here are my steps for overcoming addiction:
- Accept. Practice self-acceptance to counter shame cycles. See the positive in even my mistakes or willful bad decisions. I also see --to me at the time-- whatever I have done to cope with hurt and pain had reasons that made sense. I give myself permission to be gentle with myself now because all I’m ever trying to do is heal.
- Decide. Draw some conclusions that the substance and actions I’ve engaged have been harmful. At least, they have hindered me from pursuing the life I want to live. Ask myself, “How do I want to live? What things will help?” Focus on those things.
- Win. Find temporary distractions and less harmful habits to accumulate some days without using whatever I’m addicted to. Any day clean is a win. It’s ok if I stay clean by sleeping, eating whatever I want, and barely leaving the house. It still creates time and distance until I eventually have a new life.
- Share. Let someone or people know I’ve made a change. I declare my story, where I am, and where I’m going.
- Break. Break myself down to figure out what is the bad feeling that I think needs avoiding or fixing. *In my strategy, I journal and incorporate automatic writing. I also meditate, checking in with my body and mind. Sometimes, I use a pendulum for my check-in. (I will share more about these techniques later, here and on Instagram.)*
- Heal. Try to actually heal the bad feeling. *Here is a good time for Shadow Work, or Shadow Love as Joanna Devoe approaches it. Another strategy is emotional wellness asset mapping, and I like the tool Mad Maps by the Icarus Project, as shared on the Irresistible Podcast. (Find a more extensive version here.) This may also be a good time for professional medical help, counseling or therapy.*
- Repeat steps. Reorder the steps if necessary. Stay on whatever step for however long I feel in my soul is OK.