What Is Going On Underneath Addiction?


The alternative titles to this post could be: “The Importance of Sitting with Grief.” Or “The Importance of Releasing Shame Associated with Addiction.” And here is why:

Grief and addiction. In my mind these two players in the game dance together. They weave a sticky web so finely interwoven that one becomes hard to tell from the other. They gain power and momentum with the addition of guilt and shame, who enter from stage left when we start to identify with addictive cycles. When we take them on as our being, instead of what they really are- symptoms of a much deeper issue, we perpetuate the cycle. Or do we? The second that anyone makes the conscious decision to break this cycle might just be one of the most courageous moment in a human’s life. It is the moment that we actively start to break the cycle.

Truthfully, I think that everyone who lives long enough will encounter addictive behavior in one form or another, be it in relationships, things imbibed, or even the tendency to avoid and run away. What I experience in this society is this overarching notion that if someone is giving into addictive behavior they are weak, less than, or insert here whatever bullshit untruth that is disempowering. In reality I believe when we experience the draw to addictive behaviors it is actually a metaphorical North Star. It is inviting us to look at whatever emotions we are experiencing that feel too big to handle. The notion that they are too big to handle is also not a truth, however, it is on us to gain the courage to ask for the support we need to dive into these places in our emotional body and psyche to heal. This act of asking for support is one that is already hard for most people in the workhorse society, but even harder if we have experienced traumas or situations where we have trusted others and been burned.

So, what kind of world would this be if we released the shame associated with addictive behaviors? What if instead we began to ask deeper questions when they arose, such as, “What am I really craving right now?” or “What is not working in my life right now, and how do I invite in the change to align with what does?”

What if we reached out to a therapist or coach or healer when these symptoms started to arise in order to feel into the depths of the grief that are actually begging to be explored when we notice these tendencies arise?

Which leads me to another topic which is what I consider “masked emotions.” These emotions are ones that we experience on the surface, but point us to a deeper emotion underneath. For instance anger. When we are angry, it is important to feel it, let it wash over us in a way that does not cause harm (I’m a big fan of the old scream into a pillow technique). Suppressing our emotions results in illness, be in mental or physical, as Chinese Medicine teaches us. And when we allow ourselves to feel through anger we will find that there is actually grief underneath. There is actually a deep sadness being felt around a current affair in our lives. When we learn to sit with our grief there can be a sweetness to sorrow, because it means we are alive. Life is a gift, even when it doesn’t feel like it. The more we learn to sit with grief and feel into it tenderly, allowing it to bring us humbly to our knees, the more we can release the fear that so many associate with grief. This fear is one that has the power to hold us back from experiencing true joy in life. From taking bold leaps towards our dreams. From loving others unconditionally. From expressing our truth to the world. This fear of grief is what often creates energetic blockages, holding us back from fulfilling our purpose in life.

While I could go on and on dancing in fractals on this topic, I chose to let it be here, with the following question and exercise to begin to break the cycle:

“What if grief and sadness were safe to feel?”

And what if anytime you notice yourself reaching for something in an addictive manor you sat down with a pen and paper and journaled to find out what you are truly feeling?

In addition, remember that receiving further support is not only courageous, but necessary for our growth and evolution. We are not meant to go it alone!

With strength and love,

Angela Rose Fields

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