Addiction & Recovering Feelings
by Marcus Antebi
Article at a Glance:
Again, to be alive means to feel, and human beings are interesting because we think about what we feel. Unlike other creatures that have instinct, we can make choices about our reactions to our feelings.
At some point in my life I stopped feeling because it was too painful. It might have begun with something as simple as someone hitting me because I was crying, or maybe someone told me to stop feeling. It may have been because I faced too many different difficulties and traumas that I couldn’t cope with. So I designed a mechanism to stop feeling uncomfortable feelings in order to survive without losing my mind. Learning how to experience the world with my feelings on lockdown was a survival mechanism.
When I involved myself in any addiction I was initially looking for a way to stop feeling. It didn’t matter if the feelings were pleasant or painful. But sometimes addictions and obsessions made it possible for me to feel once again. Some addictions gave me feelings of euphoria, joy, and even love.
We human beings will naturally become addicted to anything that makes us feel good. But our addictions become a problem when they are self-destructive or destructive to the world.
The obsession of any addiction centers around getting the feeling of pleasure which we are all designed to feel at birth. We are seeking pleasurable feelings in our addictions.
Recovery from any addiction entails recovering our ability to feel without needing anything to either “take the edge off” or to amplify a sense of pleasure. It also entails engaging in the processes of learning new behaviors and improving our characters.
When we surrender an addiction we have to teach ourselves how to feel again. That means we have to pass through anxiety, boredom, frustration, and other feelings without engaging in negative behaviors. We have to build up toleration. When we get to the point of being able to do that, we are restored.
There are so many different addictions in our modern world. In order to awaken deeper consciousness, at some point we will have to surrender all of our addictions. We will then have to let ourselves feel once again.
When we have addictive tendencies we struggle with almost any type of emotion, good or bad. The things that we need to rebuild as we put down our addictions are alternative behaviors. We also need to work on building or rebuilding our character. Character comprises the foundations of our thinking processes and our external behaviors. As an example, character enables us to face up to our feelings of jealousy and then convert them into something manageable.
Character isn’t just a collection of various traits such as being an honest person, showing courtesy, practicing good hygiene, and doing exercises. Those things and a great many others certainly are part of what good character consists of. But another very crucial component of good character is the part of us that enables us to manage our lives in a positive way.
The addict has disruption in the character patterns that enable good life management and must rebuild them. It’s a restoration project, because a newborn child hasn’t yet experienced character disruption. If you give and teach children the qualities and the positive characteristics of good character, they will absorb the information and apply it to their lives.
Because of events that happened to us as children, we lose our admirable character qualities. Those qualities might have been robbed from us, or they might not have been taught to us or encouraged in us in the first place.
Part of the recovery process is learning to manage the range of our emotions that are reactions to both negative words and positive words that were said to us over time. We can cease engaging in negative behavior that’s driven by improper emotional reactions. When we’re in the process of recovery, we can become able to feel joy, self-love, love for others, and compassion once again. And we can feel the beauty that lives in this world that we’re a part of.
For some people the light within them is gone. Their self-love is gone. A crucial aspect of the recovery of such people is attempting to have that light re-sparked. Without that divine light shining, even only a little pinpoint of it, all is hopeless. People who find their way to the truth and lead themselves towards a better life do so because that light is shining within them. The light shines, even if the world is muddy and clouded with darkness.
We have to have a certain degree of self-love in order to change the direction of our lives. If you’re reading something like this, you have some self-love. Even though you may have traveled far down the road far away from the light, you can turn backwards and head in the opposite positive direction. Initially the road towards the light is scary, because we might not have faith that we will be able to make it.
At that point, we have to put our armor on and fight. And a big part of the fight that I’m speaking of is surrender, which may seem to be a paradox. The armor that I’m speaking of consists of all the new behaviors that we must engage in while we are mentally in limbo.
We get up in the morning. We close our eyes, check in, and ask ourselves, “Where am I coming from today? What emotions am I feeling, and how should I respond to them?” And while we are laying in bed, the first thing we should say to ourselves is, “I am grateful for another day.”
This and similar actions comprise our armor. Such things will protect us. You can say to yourself just before you rise from your bed, “I am grateful and I will do things today that will lead me towards the light.” And then you can begin doing some of those things.
What work will you do today to ensure that you will be free from obsessive compulsive behavior? Which part of you will win—the addictive side or the side of you that wants to be free? Will you meditate today? Will you do exercise or do yoga? Will you eat right? Will you write in your journal? Will you pray?
Take steps today. Take steps every day. When you do so, little by little you will get better.