Whether it’s that daily sip of wine, or being around your favorite person all the time, addictions are a trademark of human society.
I mean, the whole basis of consumerism is dependent on it.
We are an addictive species, we attach and cling to things and begin thinking that they are the reason we feel good. It’s true to an extent, but the high you get from any addiction, (not just talking about drugs here) always fades away, leaving that oh so familiar taste of unfulfillment behind.
Every addiction starts off innocently. Before something becomes an addiction it first becomes a habit. There is a difference between the two.
A habit is formed when an action or behavior occurs often enough to become automated in our brain. How long it takes to become a habit varies from person to person, but the function is the same for every human brain.
An addiction is formed when the habit becomes something you depend on, something you attach to. This means that now you feel as though you cannot go without it, or at its worst, you wouldn’t want to go without it. You believe the habit is a part of who you are, since it gives you something that you “don’t have.” (Which Spoiler Alert; you always do have. 🙂 )
Habits are common to every human being. If you have ever walked then you have a habit. Our brains naturally form habits to make it easier to perform other tasks in life, it sees the automation as an innovation, and applies this function to anything and everything it can, regardless of what the action is.
This function of the brain is not bad, in fact it is very necessary for some aspects of our life to be automated. It helps to not think about how to walk every time you need to get somewhere. The trouble lies when this function begins taking over your life, when you become a summation of automatic functions. And at that point, we risk our whole identity becoming invested in our unconscious thoughts and behaviors.
This is the great pandemic of humanity. Majority of the population has become ruled by the identity of their unconscious mind. And depending how long you have been ruled by this “king,” the more attached, AKA the more addicted you become to its legislation.
The longer you go living your life on auto-pilot, the harder it is to detach and become conscious again. (However, once you become conscious again [awakening] it gets easier) We have performed these actions and behaviors for so long, that we have no idea who we are without them. We have forgotten. And this is why when you hear the great masters speak of Enlightenment, they speak of a remembering.
So why do we attach to our habits? Why do we become dependent on them? It seems illogical to do so when we risk our own sense of self as a result.
Well, the obvious reason is because of ignorance; we simply don’t know any better. If we only know how to act in one way, we cannot know that there is another way to be.
When it’s not due to ignorance however, then it is simply because of an error in perception. A habit that becomes an addiction was perceived by the mind and body to grant it a sense of peace or joy. Think of an alcoholic, the alcohol stimulates the mind and body, and it is perceived to be something positive because of that. So it seeks to have the same outcome by repeating the action. The system does not care if the action is unhealthy, it only sees the action providing it something that it feels it does not have.
All addictions come from a sense of lack. A sense that you are not fulfilled or complete in your Beingness, so the attachment to the action/thought/behavior, becomes the missing piece, that seems to fill in the gap.
This is why our identity suffers at the hands of addiction. If we believe something outside of us is completing us, then it becomes a part of ourselves. We see ourselves as the incomplete circle, where our attachments and addictions fill in the missing parts.
I have demonstrated this idea in the diagram above. The mind, or the ego naturally has an incomplete idea of itself, and seeks other things to make it feel complete. The “remembering” of Enlightenment is the realization that nothing outside of me can ever fulfill me. That you have always been whole, without anything external validating it. This is shown by the right side of the diagram.
It’s not what you think.
There are many different ideas out there on how to end an addiction. Most are highly dysfunctional however, and only result in even more cravings or adopting some other addiction.
The way to heal an addiction is not to derive yourself or to replace it with some other one. Remember the reason the addiction exists is because you believe you are lacking, you believe you are incomplete. The addiction was just the result of this feeling, the natural effect of the cause. It was destined to happen, because anytime you feel incomplete, you will inevitably try to find something that will make you feel complete. Whatever it is that does that for you, you attach to and become dependent on it, if you don’t know any better.
The real way to not be dependent on something is to no longer attach to it. No longer associate it with the idea that it fulfills you in anyway, because it doesn’t. It may give you pleasure, sometimes it even delivers us pain, but neither are the fulfillment you truly desire.
This will work if you are sincerely wanting to be independent of an addiction because you recognize the harm it does for you and possibly others. However, if you are trying to get rid of an addiction because you feel guilty about it, then you are only playing another one of the ego’s games. You cannot quit an addiction if you feel guilty about it, because the guilt cannot go away by changing any action. That is only what the ego wants you to believe. This is why we think abstaining from our cravings will somehow cause them to go away. Usually though, it only strengthens the craving. Guilt is a result of a belief, and can only go away when the belief is changed.
The ego has an idea of what is right and wrong in this world, and this includes your own behavior. It will judge everything you do based on whether it aligns with its idea of what is right or wrong, good or bad, and uses this judgement to either create a feeling of guilt, or a feeling of pride whenever any action is taken. I have written a post solely on guilt if you want to read more on it. You can check it out here.
On the subject of addiction, the ego views this addiction as “wrong” and “bad,” and therefore shames you for playing out the addiction. We then believe that we are the ones responsible for the addiction, and take on the guilt that we feel we deserve.
However, like I mentioned before, the addiction was only a causal effect of your belief in lack. You have done nothing wrong, only played out the logical consequence of having that belief. Once you stop investing in that belief, the addiction will cease as well. How could you desire anything if you feel completely whole?
You can start this process by first ending your feeling of guilt when the addictive behavior occurs. Rather than resenting yourself for it, choose to feel peace with it. Have complete acceptance of it, in fact, enjoy it! Enjoy that glass of wine, enjoy that cigarette, it does give you pleasure, does it not?
After some time, you will start to notice something. The very thing you derived so much pleasure from, you were so attached to, becomes almost sickening to you. You will engage with that craving, be completely at peace with it, and realize, wow, this really doesn’t fulfill me like it used to anymore.
This is because by feeling at peace and accepting it, you are aligning with your True Self, True Reality. And in that place, what is healthy and good for the mind and body are things that are naturally desired by the Self. The True Self is love, and knows that the addictions are not of love. It sees that they are damaging to the body, the mind, and/or others, and will simply change the action, no effort required. When you are love, you will act of love too, so your addiction will start to subside naturally.
It is not only the most effective way to rid of your addictions, but also the only way to do so if you are looking to be free of addictions and attachments for good. When you are aligned with your True Self, you need nothing to fulfill you. You are fulfilled. You are everything you could ever want. And it is a beautiful place to live in.
We oo and we ahh at this idea, as if it is so far out of reach, that we could never attain it. But in reality, there is no attaining of anything at all. It is the simple recognition of who you are, by understanding who you are not. It is remembering your purity, your everlasting presence. And it could never be closer.