Most people know the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated. I think we can take that further and say how you treat others is how you will be treated by yourself. This is another variation of reaping what you sew. You will get what you give...to yourself.
The most important relationship we have is the relationship we have with ourselves. This is so often missed because our eyes look out way from ourselves at others so guess what we focus on: distractions. We look for as many distractions as we can. Silence is boring for one person and relaxing for another.
We often spend so much time trying to get other people or substances or things to make us feel good. If you can learn to have the right relationship with yourself you can learn how to change yourself for the better. So many important concepts are connected to this one including self respect, self discipline, and self esteem. The conversation that you have with yourself before you do something is the most important conversation that you can have. Our relationship with ourselves' follow all the same ideas as a relationship with others. If you don't have positive relationships with others, if you lie, manipulate, or abuse other people chances are you have also done those things to yourself. If you hate others chances are you hate yourself. How we treat others is a window into how each one of us treats ourselves. We as people do what we practice as we practice lying to others it becomes easier and easier for us to lie to ourselves. The good news is that by learning to have positive relationships with others we can also begin to have a positive relationship with our self.
When someone has been struggling with an issue for a long time and they tell a friend, "I'm quitting" and often the friend doesn't believe it. Normally the person has said "I'm quitting" many times. So I'm quitting starts to sound like "I'm lying". So when the person says "I'm quitting" this time and actually start to change the other person often still doubts. The friend has to test the person to see if they are for real this time. The person has to convince themselves. You have to prove to yourself that even though you sound the same you are different. Building trust with yourself or others takes time and consistency.
Here I am years after writing this, still discovering new levels of myself. The lies I tell myself. The things I don't want to own or look at. I have removed my chemical addictions and with the loss of caffeine I seem more than ever to be forced to look at myself. This is so hard, the illusion is so appealing.
At the end of the day the only way to truly live a peaceful life is to see who I really am. What I am really capable of and instead of insisting that I am so good I am good because I chose to be when it wasn't easy. When no one is watching. Stay true to yourself no matter what anyone else says. Have high standards. Don't make excuses and don't apologize unless you are truly sorry.
So what can be done? (about addiction) The first thing, no matter where you are in this process, stop expecting things. Expectations are closed thoughts they say I expect to get a raise in pay today at my meeting with my boss. No raise, begin the grieving process. Switch to hoping and get rid of expecting. Hoping is open minded positivity. I hope I get a raise today and if you don't you can carry your hope into the next day. Hoping is starting the day with a perspective that says I am open to hoping for an infinite number of positive things that will come my way today. Hoping is unknown. I hope good things happen and then good things do come our way, things we would have missed if we would have had our expectation blinders on. Hope is in things didn't even know about when our day began. Expectations are limited to the knowledge we have at the beginning of the day and hope is in the recogni
As I have started this new journey getting off my final drug, caffeine and finally being completely sober I have found the process to be difficult in a new way as there is nothing left to shift to. When I quit drinking I switched to smoking more, when I quit smoking I switched to caffeine more. Here I am 11 years after getting off alcohol and cigarettes still listening to this addictive wispier that says ....you need something....everyone else drinks coffee.....it's no big deal and yet I know that I have struggled with anxiety that is directly connected to my caffeine intake.
I have no expectations for what life will be life after these withdraws are over. My hope is that I will be the truest version of myself yet.
There is a long list of things that oppose change. To many things to make a list. This is one of the reasons it is so hard to change in the first place. The things that oppose change are anything that is not changing. People places and things. As you change some things will change along with you. They will change to remain close to you as you change. Most people places and things will try with all their might to stay the same and if you change you just won't have anything in common anymore. I remember being a child and loving my action figures. I remember thinking to myself and telling others I will always love these action figures. Well, years later guess what. I changed and the action figures didn't so we grew apart. No hard feelings just nothing in common. I can look back on them with fond memories but I'm not tempted to go back to playing with them. I look back on my struggles the same way. I changed and all that stuff, places and those people stayed the same, I changed. No hard feelings just nothing in common.
As much as I loved the action figures and my struggles I'm glad I grew up and now I love new things, no regrets. I hope as you change you feel the same way.
I wanted to come to this today as I am once again in a place of change. It is amazing how old patterns and addictions seem to shape shift and find their ways into our lives. My most recent battle with caffeine has triggered a lot of old addictive thoughts as it is tied to dopamine in the brain the same as my old favorites alcohol and nicotine. A long with that I have a pattern of getting very excited about things in life that are less realistic and more fantasy. It is all connected.
I can see how those around seem to fall away when changes happen and I'm realizing that very few people are authentically looking for knowledge or self awareness the way that I am. People often will dangle a carrot in front of us. I have known so many talking about what is coming, partnership with no ownership. I am realizing the true importance of direct communication. I see that the time I have spent chasing carrots for other could have been spent doing honest work for myself knowing that I have very little money and very few contacts my ideas are all that give me value.
So take an honest look at the people around you. Ask yourself if they would really be happy if you broke out of your old patterns. Would they encourage you to change or would they secretly try to sabotage it so that they can stay the same? They will never say that they don't want you to be better off. Look carefully and see if the subtle passive aggressive things others do to hold back become obvious. You may get set up so that it is you not them that are a problem. If this is the case cut your losses there is no way to get others to see themselves honestly and it is not your job to show them. own your choices and go.
Keep walking forward and be careful of the groups closest to you. We often get a much more objective perspective about ourselves from people not directly impacted by our destinations the closer a person is to you the more they will be forced into change in order to stay close to you. Choose your path and own it. The addictive world is speeding up and I have chosen to do what I have to in order to keep seeing positive change in my life.
Today I see things for what they are. It takes courage to be honest with self. The path to self mastery continues.
Three types of people
There are three types of people when it comes to a specific addiction. Never used, social user and the addict. I say a specific addiction because a person may not be addicted to one thing but very addicted to another. One of my main goals so far has been to point out that everyone can get something from the removal of addictive thinking on some level. The vast majority of people today have some addictive struggle on some level. For example a person a drinking problem but that doesn't mean that they are not over weight and struggling with a food addiction. A person who has an addiction to anger may not have an addiction to caffeine.
With that said I'll go back to the start. There are three types of people when it comes to a specific addiction, let use alcohol for example. The first kind of person has never drank. This person is not addicted and I call them doesn't use. Simple enough, the second person drinks socially and so I will refer to them as the social user. Finally, the third kind of person is an alcoholic and I will call them the addict.
I know that there are places where the line between social user and addict are blurry, the addict loves this fact. In any case hear me out. A sober person is in the doesn't use category. The goal of the addict is to find a away to move from the addict category to the social user category. The addict will try with everything they have to prove to others and themselves that they already are just social users. Only when the addict gives up on becoming a social user and accepts that they must choose to either remain an addict or move to the doesn't use category do they become free.
I would say after thinking about this now that the primary difference between the social drinker and the addict is the relational and emotional aspects to the consumption.
I, as an addict, very much think of alcohol the way I think about my ex wife, I miss the good times we had, I know she never really loved me and I know she is whispering "I'll never leave" to someone else. She was a liar and a cheat but I wanted to believe so bad.
When I meet another alcoholic is is like talking to someone who has dated an ex. Moderates do not have this relational emotional aspect a beer is a thing like a slice of pizza. For me alcohol was one of the great loves of my life.
I look back on it as a better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all type thing where I loved every drink I ever had and some times I would do anything to get one more kiss. As an alcoholic I know she is always there buty she hasn't changed.
Addiction is like an arcade game.
Imagine walking into an arcade with $20, there is a big bouncer at the door and he says admission is free, no cost to get in. You see some people standing in front of a game and every time they press a big red button they get shocked. That is strange you think but you move on and see a machine get $5 for nothing, the machine says in big letters and there is red button on it. So you reach out and press it and $5 comes out. You look around thinking this can't be right so you press it again $5. This is crazy you think and you start pounding on the button and five dollars keep coming out. Now you've got 30 or 40 five dollar bills and you feeling pretty good.
Then there is a small shock when you press the button but you still get the $5. Oh well it's worth it, you think. This keeps up and the shocks get a little bit worse but you hardly feel them because the money is piling up. You remember seeing other people standing in front of machines getting shocked, they looked foolish but their machines didn't pay money.
Time goes on and then all of a sudden a shock and no money. Try it again a shock and no money. Is the machine out, I'll try it one more time just to see, you press the button the shock is worse and then a $10 bill pops out. You've lost track of time now the shocks are bad and sometimes no money comes out but when it does it is always more. Eventually the money is few and far between but when you get money it is worth it. Eventually your hand is horribly damaged from the shocks that you physically can't press the button. So you decide to stop, you count your money you've got $2,500 plus the $20 you came in with. You are happy but you look at the time you have been up for 48 hours. You slide back into a corner and pass out from exhaustion.
When you wake up the money is gone all $2520.00. You can't believe it no money and your hand is still horribly mangled from the shocks. At this point you either leave with nothing but a mangled hand or decide to go back to the game and at least try to get your $20 back.
Through out this story the person has many opportunities to quit. Some people stop with the first shock others keep going. There are different types of people in different stages of addiction.
Wow, I haven't thought about addiction this way in a very long time. I forgot about the pull, hope that this time it will be different. Shame for getting into this mess to begin with. Anger at myself and others, my parents, life, god or whatever lead me here, for allowing this to happen.
It isn't going to be different the game will steal your money every time. You aren't smarter than it if you keep playing. You can only beat it by leaving it and learning to do one of the hardest things in life. CUT YOUR LOSSES.
Use the regret, the shame and the frustration that at the same time you are feeling those things you want to go back for one more.
This is so hard because it is an utterly hopeless place and if we embrace hopelessness once then hope can never innocently be trusted again. Its true. No way around it. The price of wisdom (quitting a destructive habit) is innocence (ignorance that it will ever be like it once was).
Quit things in life to teach yourself this lesson. You will grow up. You will make hard choices replacing hope with the knowledge that even if it doesn't work out you will be ok because you are strong and wise. No one who has never quit anything understands this type of victory in the same way that a person can learn all about how to climb mountain, every detail and have no idea what it is to conquer a mountain.
Most people never learn to fight. They avoid battles. The greatest battles in life are in own own minds with the pieces of us that are broken. Integrate yourself. How to bring peace to your mind win the war one battle at a time. Every mental victory matters the smaller it is the more important it is. Because no one who can't walk can run. Start walking.
Getting to the cause always involves pain. I heard it said once that pain is inevitable but suffering is not. Why pain? Pain can be the friction that happens with a change in direction. Pain can be focusing on the symptom and not the cause. Like many other concepts pain is information that something is out of balance. Pain is the feeling that comes when you touch a hot pan. It is important information that you need to stop our your hand have even worse physical problems. If we numb our hand we can touch the hot pan. We feel no pain but still get burned. A burn is a thing separate from the pain felt when burning takes place. Our nerves that allow us to feel pain are very important to our health. Simply by knowing what pain is we are able to know what it is not.
The goal of change cannot be to avoid pain. Avoiding pain is often the reason change cannot take place. The goal of change must be to avoid suffering. Suffering is long term pain doesn't have to be. Being enslaved to in addiction is suffering a long drawn out ache that doesn't go away. Pain can be a quick jolt, a shooting pain that makes up jerk away from something. The longer we avoid the pain that comes with change the longer we will suffer.
I have been thinking a lot about pain lately. It seems that pain is connected to fear. I recently heard it said "it can't kill you but it can convince you that it can kill you" For me the worst part of pain is the fear that it won't ever end. Some of this come from the fear based eternal damnation programming I got a as a child. In truth nothing lasts forever and our bodies are trying to acclimate all the time. We become desensitized to pain some even find pleasure in it. They like the sensation. it reminds them they are alive. I have been giving myself small controlled pains to grow. Exercise, heat, cold problem solving. Short pain to avoid long term pain. The solution is built into the problem. Pain is unavoidable but we can use it to our advantage...not easy but needed. if you don't do it the universe will.
Two types of thinking
I clearly remember people telling me you should stop before you get addicted. I had the first kind of thinking. I don't have to stop because I'm not addicted. So I didn't stop. Then I woke up one day and someone told me I should stop and I realized I couldn't stop because I was addicted. That is when my thinking changed to the second type. I started telling myself that I was an addict and that was my new reason to not stop.
The reality is that with both those ways of thinking have one consistent theme use. Addiction exists where ever use exists. The thinking may change but the use is the same.
Straight from not enough to too much. I still think of this often as critical mass as I put it is something that is known will come but only after it has happened. We know a cup can only hold so much water but which drop will be the one to make it spill over. Of coarse you know after it happens and then the temptation is to say too late instead of learning and turning back. Its never too far until it is and the line is always changing. The best comics can figure out what is too inappropriate at a specific time and go right up to that line without crossing. The line moves all the time so the art is to navigate it. the same could be said of accountants in regards to taxes. In turn all of life is this way. the master is one that can walk that line. The trick is to walk the line and fall on the side of less as opposed to more. This is the wisdom position.
The addiction will whisper things in your ear and most them make no sense. We listen because we want to believe so bad. This is a lie the addiction uses and it makes no sense but it was so powerful. You're doing so good not ________ing you deserve a _______. Never ever reward yourself with the thing you quit. Reward yourself with something you're not addicted to. If you reward yourself with the thing your giving up you won't be giving it up so what is the reward for.
Cheat days are a lousy idea if you want a change in your life. People say well it's too much to just give it up. If you have a cheat day planned than you haven't changed. Diets don't work. They don't work on food or drugs or depression or anything else. You can't be victorious if you already have a planned failure coming up. You don't get to be victorious for a few weeks so that you can go back to loosing again. If you are taking a break from lying but have a new lie planned out for next week then you never took a break to begin with you just used some patience to make it a good one.
*I remember writing this. I don't believe in cheat days on substances that you have an addiction to but now 10 years later I am looking for balance. No alcohol but I am experimenting with planned cheat days with my eating. This is hard for me and should not be done right away but now that I am skinnier than I have ever been it is important I learn moderation which is a curse word to me. It had to be for me to get to this point. Always coming back to center.
My last one
Here is a mistake I made a thousand times. This is my last__________. Yeah, fill in the blank. It doesn't matter what it is. You never get to have that one last magical experience with your addiction because then you'll remember the magic and forget it was you last time. You have to quit when your half way through or when it's already over. When you're hung over or feeling sick because of the shame. That's where quitting lives stay there. You give yourself one last great whatever and the chances of you not going back are slim to none. Think this way the last time I _______ was my last time. The next time is never the last time.
*I was talking with a friend the other day and trying to explain this idea. if you make the last one of the thing you are trying to quit the experience will be gloried which will make it even harder to quit. You want the last one to be the worst one so that it is easy to remember the negative and not the positive side of the addiction. Some people are planning to quit and other too busy quitting to plan it since not doing a thing doesn't really require that much of a plan.
I have met a lot of these people. I was one of these people. They always have a great plan of attack. When they see you they are telling you about the newest diet but they are still over weight. They may be at the bar telling someone about the AA meeting they are going to start going to. Or my favorite, the person with a cigarette in their hand telling someone about how they know how to quit because they've done it before and how they are going to do it again next Tuesday.
People that carry around too many plans don't have space left to carry any actual change. Plans are fine just know that people who are addicted to things are often addicted to planning.
* Wisdom is applied knowledge. I realize that in my own journey knowing a lot of information was important but only half the story the other half is applying that knowledge to accomplish my goals. This site has been a great way for me to externalize my ideas into a program for myself that has now become a program others can follow. Now is the best time to start changing or at least stop being the same.
I was an Alcoholic
This blog contains many of the ideas that helped me to get sober and stay sober.
Everything in Italics is me now, commenting on the writing from 10 years ago. Everything not in Italics is the 8 year old writing. In some ways I am the same but in others very different that is what make it interesting.
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