How mindfulness can help you to accept, and ultimately overcome, addiction
Addictions are funny things. Before I can help someone regain control over their life, we usually have to deal with shame.
It’s a terrible emotion. It arises naturally from the unconscious to let a person know that they’ve violated their own standards for how they want to live. It’s a message that says to the self, “You’re screwing up; you’re a screw-up.” With that in mind, you have two options: change your definition of self and/or change your behaviour.
Pornography addiction, which I’m seeing more of, is especially shameful to people. The problem is that the shame adds an extra layer of complexity which isn’t part of the addiction itself, but can trigger it. When an addict feels bad about themselves, they tend to self-medicate in order to achieve short term pleasures. For instance, a cannabis smoker gets stoned.
Mindfulness is a brilliant tool to learn self-acceptance, as well as gain insight into the emotions that feed an addiction. If this applies to you, then think of your ‘drug’ of choice, be it gambling, porn, alcohol, etc. Allow yourself to feel an almost irresistible desire for it. Then, stop feeding it, and just sit, forensically observing and feeling a full experience of your craving. As a society, we almost never do this.
Get in touch with the actual physical sensations in the body. A client, who spent too much time going to unsavoury websites, did this in my office recently and was shocked to become aware of the emotions behind his apparent ‘need’.
As you do this, accept yourself. I’m not asking you to accept your behaviour, just accept your feelings in the same way you do the feelings of your clothes against your body — without judgment or resistance. Doing this can change your definition of yourself from “I’m a shameful, bad person” to “I’m a good person with a specific problem.”
Remember — what you resist, persists; what you accept, you can transform. Understanding this is a major step towards recovery.
As always, I’ve recorded a free mp3 that guides you through mindfulness for addictions. Get in touch if you want it.
- Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at https://www.facebook.com/Belfast Hypnosis/?ref=hl/?ref=hl