May 11 - The Face of Addiction?

What does she look like, an alcoholic woman? What kind of person forges a prescription to get more drugs than the doctor would prescribe? Why would someone steal an item from a shop when she could afford to pay for it? What kind of man would gamble with his child’s educational fund? What kind of mother would leave her children while she engages in a flight of fantasy? What does a man look like that is attracted only to needy women?

As you read these questions, what images come to your mind? Probably the same as most of these people carry of themselves...one of darkness, dishonesty, selfishness, hopelessness, and misdirection, just to name a few. Yet the people I described above are for the most part successful, ambitious, creative, generous, and kind. They also share the inability to identify their genuine needs and the tendency to turn to addictive habits that at first seem to satisfy...but in reality only aggravate their unconscious cravings.

It is time we put a new face on addiction. One way to begin this process is for each one of us to break our silence about our own personal journeys with addiction. It is silence that perpetuates the misconceptions.

It is also important that we start curiously asking the question, “Why would I ________ (fill in the blank with your particular addictive habit)?” As long as we stay stuck in the embarrassment or the guilt around the behavior, we will never be able to identify what we don’t yet know about addictive behaviors. We actually have the answers. They are buried deep within each one of us.

People frequently request my help in identifying their true purposes in life, and yet so many are adamant about not wanting to talk about anything painful. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I have heard a client whisper with embarrassment, “I have never told another soul that I do this,” or “I haven’t talked about this for thirty years.” And yet once you begin a journey of remembering, the wisdom of your experience begins to emerge. A path is evident, and it leads straight to your ultimate contribution to the world. It is absolutely amazing and awesome.

One client I worked with came from abject poverty. Growing up, she traveled down only narrow dirt roads. Somehow she made it out of there but would never allow herself to look back. She felt it would be too painful and would overwhelm her…she always was terrified that someone would find out about her background. However, after finding the courage to revisit the hurt, isolation, and resignation of her childhood, she literally discovered her wings.

She earned her pilot’s license, and she dedicated one Saturday each month to taking underprivileged children on airplane trips to introduce them to what is possible in this life. She would share her painful memories and how she found a way to become all that she could be. She literally created possibilities for other lives as she shared her own. Once she identified and started to satisfy her true need to make a difference with her life, she found her addictive habits to be unnecessary and her cravings began to disappear. She was experiencing instead the genuine high of a life well lived.

She gave the promise of her own life to children. She alleviated their pain and allowed possibility to replace it. She literally enabled their spirits to soar.

What may be possible for you to learn by peeling away the layers of your addictive habits? What do our children need to know that you can discover from your life? How are we going to get this information to them? What do you need to discover out of the messiness of your life that will actually give a better life to others? Will you help me change the face of addiction by sharing your life with others...today?

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