One of the greatest challenges in creating a joyful, peaceful
and abundant life is taking responsibility for what you do
and how you do it. As long as you can blame someone else,
be angry with someone else, point the finger at someone
else, you are not taking responsibility for your life.
Probably the coping mechanism used by most people to distract themselves from taking responsibility for their thoughts, words and actions is addiction. All addictions block positive energy flow in the body consequently distracting us from truth and wisdom, which I often refer to as peace, love and joy. When we forfeit our happiness for habitual psychological or physiological dependence, we are choosing a path of distraction rather than directing ourselves on a course of healing and transformation.
Compulsive engagement in something regardless of its adverse consequences is another way to think about addiction. Below are some obvious and not-so-obvious compulsive addictions.
- Substance abuse: smoking, alcohol, coffee, colas, drugs, food, inhalants
- Behavioural patterns: shopping, gambling, hobbies, nail biting, self-mutilation, pulling out one’s hair, hand-washing, constant busyness, television, computer, vomiting, voyeurism, isolation, sleeping, arson, physical exercise, work or career, hoarding, masochism, sadism, pornography, adrenalin rushes from extreme sports, speed, sex, crime, sexual and physical abuse, pedophilia, bestiality, toxic relationships, wealth
- Thought and emotional patterns: obsessive negative thinking/self-talk, anxiety, depression, approval/attention-seeking, ambition, over- and under-achieving, power, co-dependency, chaos (emotional drama), ego, fantasizing, holding on to old hurt feelings, fetishes, fame, hiding behind humour, misery, phobias, people-pleasing, perfectionism, prayer and therapy without action
To put the above addictions in perspective, all adverse, repeated patterns have the purpose of distracting us from our discomfort (fears, pain and suffering). I speculated in a previous blog that addiction is showing up as a global, generational pattern. In reacting to external events in our lives, we are stuck repeating the past even though it no longer works (i.e., war as addiction), and this holding on to familiar but ineffective ways is trapped in our global consciousness.
Would it be fair to say that as you read through the multitude of addictions, you could circle one, two or maybe several that you have used or are using today? I certainly could. Could you recognize your own “desperate neediness, craving” that is keeping you distracted rather than healthy?
As I intimated earlier, addictions block the flow of positive energy in our bodies and minds. One form of blocked positive energy is creativity. Have you noticed during your times of negativity, you are not creative, but self-destructive? Consequently, freeing the flow of energy in our body also frees us from holding on to negative emotions and thoughts. In other words, when we learn to quiet our mind, our heart and our senses, we experience inner peace (freedom from distraction/stress).
When we are free from distraction, we can focus our awareness inward on intuition where true knowledge and wisdom await our discovery. Such self-awareness permits us to choose a healthy direction, to see in each present moment a choice is at the heart of a situation. The choice is self-responsibility. Taking responsibility for who we are and what we say and do demands self-awareness. Fortunately, the process of turning negative “habits into positive ones is a prelude to the larger freedom of […] moment-to-moment perception and wisdom” (B. K. S. Iyengar). Thus, deep self-awareness is the threshold of wisdom.
By alleviating our negative ingrained habits and our suffering, the truth of the soul is revealed (direction) and joy leaks out where distraction and despair once prevailed.
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. Rumi
Stay tuned next week for my guest blogger, Chloe Pearson, who will offer 3 helpful tips for when confronted with addictive behaviour.