One day at a time.
It’s the picture of addiction we’re all familiar with—something each of us can relate to on some level: the sketchy addict sitting somewhere, staring at a clock, desperately fighting to make it through another minute, hour, or day without using.
Feel the anger, jitteriness, distraction, anxiety, and every other imaginable match of willpower versus discomfort.
The addict only sees within that slowly ticking clock a lifetime’s worth of feverish struggle ahead.
I believe the experience of facing addiction can be almost the exact opposite of that. When you can manage yourself, the bleak notion of having to force arbitrary periods of deprivation and unpleasantness is transformed into motivation to give each present moment over to the new you you’re becoming.
It’s taken me a long time to actually start to grasp what I’ve been saying here all along: that if you focus on going public with your real experience, you see your values; then your addictions and limitations basically take care of themselves.
Periods of forced abstinence seem quite unproductive in terms of pursuing passions and values.
The desperate addict mentioned above can’t really focus on much else but time as it fails to pass by fast enough.
Sitting at opposite ends of an empty room will leave you and your addiction with nothing left to do but stare at each other.
I believe you can actually use the power of your addiction to propel yourself forward into the next phase of your journey. Then you find whatever that phase is becomes so valuable to you that you can no longer allow your addiction to hinder you in that area.
Without forcing yourself at all, simply use what you’re addicted to as a way of making the next steps in your sequence more appealing until the importance of those steps surpasses the pull of the addictive behavior you used to first help you take them.
From there, you can use your addiction to propel yourself forward again…
What am I talking about? How could something addictive motivate you to do something good?
I wrote this in late 2014 (while high)
“I’ve always felt the need to better manage my time.
“I now see that facing addiction isn’t about taking things ‘one day at a time’ in the sense of simply getting through a day without giving in, then another day, then another…
“I want to get the most out of all the time I have, which I know means always learning to better integrate all the various things I want to do and be.”
A few days later, I got high again and wrote:
“Could weed serve as a reward for successfully starting something new?
“Once that new activity becomes an established part of my life, maybe it would be so awesome and valuable to me that I’d naturally want to remove weed from it to make it even better…?”
The next day, I continued (high) with:
“Then I guess my weed use would shift to the next steps in my sequence until those new pursuits also compelled me more than my addiction.”
So far, I’ve used my weed addiction to start preparing and sharing my Facing Addiction story, to exercise, to network, to get moving on a whole bunch of other projects, and to incorporate all sorts of other important steps until their value overshadowed the pull of my addiction.
Once each new phase was established, my weed use naturally shifted as I saw that there were certain aspects of those new activities I couldn’t do as well while high.
My high time then trickled and pooled to other parts of new projects until those too became ingrained.
Could something compulsive ever motivate you to begin something important?
What about those areas in life your addiction doesn’t seem to hinder?
One summer, I used weed as a motivation to start exercising at night. Unlike with my other pursuits, I didn’t see weed hindering my exercise at all. I could have potentially always kept getting high while working out at night.
But then I changed my schedule just a little…
Tomorrow we’ll see how intentionally slight schedule changes can compound the power of self-management.
P.S. The last thing I used my addiction to motivate was to complete this massive to-do list with all the steps required for setting up my website—design, formatting, a social media plan, and everything else needed for me to go public with my Facing Addiction experience.
The new life I stepped into after that has been so amazing that I haven’t used weed compulsively since . . . but I’m getting way ahead of myself.
I still had some of my most important lessons left to learn before I found the balance and control I’d been searching for all along.