Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Addictions, Consequences, and Directions

I’ve been reading … well, let me clarify, I’ve been studying …“Finding Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck for some time now.  I’m still only at the beginning, because I don’t move forward until I feel I understand what I’ve already read.

This morning I was reading the chapter on Reconnecting and came across a section about addiction.  In this part she talks about an overachieving guy named Allen who would occasionally embark on an alcoholic binge.  What Beck says in this chapter really resonated with me because it’s a principle I’ve found to be true in my own life over the past couple of years.  When Allen started recognizing that his essential self no longer needed to hijack his behavior, because he started understanding what his social-self needed, he made some very drastic changes in his life, his family, and his job.  Everyone he knew was upset about all the changes, and by all outward appearances it looked like his life was a mess.  But Allen was happy because both parts of him were on the right path, and he no longer found himself binging.  

When I’m doing what I know I was created to do, the work isn’t work to me, it’s just part of what I enjoy.  When situations come into my life that threaten to keep me from doing those things, I get stressed, filled with anxiety, depressed, angry, and sometimes turn to an addictive behavior (not your typical devices – for me it’s pushing the world away and isolating myself to a lethargic state).

I understand this.  But so far I’ve yet to discover how to stop it from happening.  When my basic needs are not met while I’m participating in fulfilling both my essential and social selves and being happy, it forces me to have to seek supplication elsewhere, therefore pulling me away from the path toward my true north star. I then fall into a self-destructive pattern where I can’t sleep and my stress levels shoot to the roof. 

Philosophers, poets, and therapists make it sound like all these dramatic life changes just happen and there are no dire consequences.  They don’t just happen and sometimes the consequences of letting something go costs you more than you can often afford.  Sometimes there are not simple answers and solutions right around the corner. No matter how much you understand the source of a problem, knowing about it doesn’t make life any easier and it isn’t some magic word that puts everything in the proper order.  Sometimes it’s a fight to get where you know you need to be.

Saying you have to do what you have to do, Beck says this is a battle cry from the social self. I understanding taking a stand can cost you.  It’s cost me my livelihood, my marriage, just about all my friends.  She ends with a quote from the Bible about the dangers of gaining the whole world but losing your soul.  Believe me, I’ve put it on the line for that very reason.  I have no regrets of what I’ve put on the line.  

But, what I’d like to know… is how much can one truly lose before they once again make a decision to do what they have to do, even if it takes them off the track to their north star?  There is such a thing of losing it all… having nothing, no one, and nowhere to go.  Just volunteer at any homeless shelter and you’ll see it.  Would you be willing to go that far?

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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