DAY 21 | What we tell ourselves #1 (intuition or indulgence)

facing-addiction-what-we-tell-ourselves-1I mentioned the time I frantically smoked hash through a makeshift pipe (a giant lemonade can stabbed with a pen). Well, two days later, I finally sat down at my laptop to start working on my Facing Addiction story.

All my plans for how I’d go public with my experience immediately went out the window.

I had folders and documents stuffed with rough bits and pieces spanning about four solid years’ worth of compulsive weed use. Scattered throughout were my thoughts specifically about addiction. My plan was to read through what I’d recorded every now and then, but basically just to write my story from scratch—to share whatever came to mind whenever I’d sit down to write.

I mean, that’s how people write, right?

So I clicked to open a new document, and just started typing…

It felt weird right away. I spent about an hour wrestling with wording for an intro story about meeting this girl at a dance party years ago.

After that, I clumsily sputtered through what ended up being a crude outline of my relationship with weed so far. I wrote that:

  • I’m an addict who wants to find balance so I can keep using weed for the things it helps me with.
  • I’ve felt the need for balance and control ever since I got my prescription back in 2011.
  • Weed seems to help me find ideas, but then it steals the time and focused brainpower I’d need to develop those ideas.
  • Addiction keeps me isolated and broke.
  • I’ve tried to quit many times and failed.
  • I need to find a new way to relax without weed.
  • Going public with my experience feels like an important first step in learning to control my addiction.
  • If my quest for balance fails, I’ll admit my need for help.

It took hours, and I felt like I was only circling around everything I wanted to say.

You could probably sit down right now and come up with a quick list of good reasons for every change you want to make in life; but how complete (or honest) would such a list really be?

Have you ever made lists like that before? Did they work to change you in the long run?

Anyway, I finished writing and promptly got high. As I began to slowly read back over what I’d written, I realized something important right away: Just typing whatever came to mind and hoping for the best would never result in my real addiction experience being properly captured and shared.

Instead of balance and control, I’d have only ended up more entrenched in hindering thought-patterns and habits.

Why?

Well, here are some of the high thoughts I wrote down that night while reading through my first attempt at sharing my experience:

“Trying hard to write something cool that I hope will capture my thoughts feels like the wrong direction for me to go with this.

“Instead, I just want to let my growing collection of recorded experiences and intuitions connect however they connect to basically show themselves.

“But do I really want to spend this time thinking and attaching ideas instead of just writing and sharing freely?

“It’s simpler than that, though, right?

“I’m missing something…? 

“Writing the way I wrote tonight felt far too self-indulgent.

“I’ve already been capturing my real experience; now I just want to show it as simply as possible. 

“I don’t want to explain my intentions or philosophies. I hope the pieces I collect can speak for themselves to paint an accurate picture. I feel like my part should only be to tie them together as little as needed.

“Let that always be my philosophy: as little as needed.”

The next night, I re-wrote what became DAY 1 by simply connecting a few recorded experiences and intuitions together.

But what does any of this have to do with actually facing addiction?

What I’m talking about today is the experience you go public with in order to face, control, and overcome your limitations and addictions.

I wouldn’t have realized how dishonest I was being if I hadn’t seen my own words as if through someone else’s eyes. That’s part of the magic of going public: You’re forced to see yourself more objectively.

Going public robs you of the ability to easily lie to yourself about your own state—something addiction both results from and causes, always.

Here are more of my high thoughts from that night:

“Self-indulgence weakens the power of your unconscious intuitions, ideas, and desires to naturally connect and bring themselves to life through you.

“Being self-indulgent puts you in your own way. You end up interpreting your experience through the filter of the very limitations you wish to overcome—seeing your life through the perspective you wish to change.”

Basically, sharing self-indulgently could sabotage the whole process of going public with your experience to face and overcome what holds you back.

What do I mean by self-indulgence? How does sharing self-indulgently differ from the type of sharing I’ve been encouraging?

My high thoughts from that night continue:

“Trying to explain exactly what I’m going through off the top of my head is what I mean by self-indulgence.

“Going public is powerful because the experience you share touches and connects various pieces of what’s currently unconscious and intuitive, gradually bringing those deeper truths to light.

 “Going public turns your life into something like the creation of an artwork.

“Think of self-indulgent sharing as sharing in an overly intentional way—asking yourself specific questions, and then trying to run with what you think the answers should be. 

“The type of experience I’m encouraging you to share is more like a connected sequence of what naturally occurs (or stands out) to you over time.

“Sure, ask yourself questions; but then let them sit. Notice things like how often you ask the same questions. 

“The more connected recurring themes you see, the better.

“Of course there’s a balance; you’d miss out on living if you spent forever trying to fill in and connect every detail of your life.”

My Facing Addiction story is simply a collection of linked, progressive hunches or daydreams about life, identity, values…

Unconscious intuitions naturally connect and simplify in time, reducing and cancelling out needless fluff like terms in an equation. Conscious attempts to explain, on the other hand, can forever complicate the equation, keeping you from seeing what you already know deep down.

A marriage counselor might spend months helping a couple reach an eight-second conclusion about what’s really going on behind all the practiced noise and drama. It will be an answer both find they really already knew, yet one that neither had let themselves see for various reasons.

Sharing your real experience should cut through self-indulgent patterns and limitations just like effective counseling. Otherwise, it’s attempting to climb quicksand steps, or to lift yourself up by the seat of your own pants.

Cutting through the noise between your thoughts and intentions so you can see your life more objectively is the first step toward maturity and real change; but addictions and personal limitations are especially stubborn and tricky in that regard. That’s why tomorrow we’ll take a much closer look at the relationship between the lies we tend to tell ourselves and our addictions and limitations, citing several examples from Psychology.

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Intro, DAY 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, Afterword

 

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