A few days before I was first prescribed medical marijuana, I came up with this complex schedule of detailed rewards and punishments for specific weed-related behaviors. It looked like some sort of massive equation housed in an Excel file.
My hope was to avoid addiction before I even had access to medical weed.
Then I started getting high and completely forsook my cool plan.
Weed was fun. It made normal life more enjoyable. It helped me imagine and create. I looked forward to getting high more and more until I looked forward to it too much.
Then four years of addiction passed hazily by.
But going public with my experience has brought me full circle in three ways:
First, going public has shown me I can’t really enjoy what I love about weed when I keep using it compulsively. I also can’t ignore the mounting negative effects of my prolonged lack of control—feeling worn out and useless, losing money, neglecting precious loved ones…
Second, going public has shown me that the way I think dictates how I should share my experience. I take great pleasure in being able to compare and cancel out various pieces of ideas, noticing patterns like theorems in the combined weight and pull of many competing inner and outer forces.
Third, going public has shown me that the way I think also dictates how I should manage myself. Even the intricate schedule I so gleefully formulated to preemptively keep myself from addiction was a perfect example.
How do these three lessons relate to you?
First, sharing your experience reveals to you in a visceral, undeniable way exactly why you love whatever it is you’re addicted to. You’re unable to ignore that using addictively keeps you from enjoying or benefiting from the experience as much as you could be.
You also see all the other values your addiction keeps you from.
Second, the way you go public with your experience has a lot to do with your talents. How you share should be a natural extension of the way you think and see the world, which is the basis of your unique art form, potential, purpose…
Not everyone thinks the way I do. I share my experience by connecting, comparing, and reducing pieces of a long story.
How do you think and communicate?
You might be an off-the-cuff blurter who could get on a microphone without much forethought, and just dive into whatever you have to share.
If that describes you, I’m a little jealous : )
Third, how you think and see the world also reveals much about how you should manage yourself.
Here’s something I once wrote while high:
“Ironically, I now see how much I want to live my day-to-day life by mathematical principles. I’m attracted to simplicity, efficiency, etc.
“Yet the experience of weed, for me, is the exact opposite of Math. Weed is free and colorful. Its effects come in disorganized bursts like a child’s dreams.
“I love weed because it’s fun for me, and it seems to help me appreciate and enjoy life.
“With only Math, there’d be no life for me to want to structure with it.
“With only weed, my high would soon lose its fun.
“You have your own dichotomy of values to discover.
“What you want most might at least in part be revealed by the very compulsions you find yourself held back by when those compulsions go unchecked.”
Just like my weed addiction has always demolished all my Math-like attempts at constructing perfect plans for how to live, your addictions and compulsions specifically keep you from effectively managing your life however is most natural for you.
Sharing your experience just makes where and why you’re being held back obvious.
I now see how naïve I was to try to manage myself before I had my prescription—punching out lists of rules into Excel cells (with zero perspective) in hopes of warding off addiction.
Since then, preparing to share my experience has caused my perspective both to widen and to deepen. In time, I’ve become aware enough of my own inner dichotomies to make decisions that align with all my most important (yet diverse) core values at once.
Again, you discover your own dichotomies (and how to balance them) as you prepare to share your experience.
Once you see yourself in terms of all your values at once, you naturally seek out the best, most efficient ways to manage and spend your time.
Tomorrow: being unable not to imagine the results of your actions.