A veteran addiction therapist’s spiritual and psychological secrets
GUEST COLUMN BY MARY COOK — You may find this hard to believe, but some of our worst inner struggles are entirely optional. We inadvertently get hooked on unhealthy thoughts, feelings and behaviors, yet our lives would dramatically change if we could only let them go.
When we enslave ourselves to addictions, compulsions, co-dependency, power, money and materialism, we block our hearts. When we become slaves to worry, fear, hate, anger and depression, we forfeit our faith. And when we become slaves to pride, prejudice, arrogance, self-righteousness, greed, entitlement and violence, we sacrifice conscious awareness of our soul.
Often we try to ease the pain, but in unhealthy ways. By treating ourselves and others as commodities to use, abuse, exploit, neglect or endanger, we dishonor and deny our divine heritage. Feeling empty, broken, damaged and demeaned means we have forgotten the spirit within us. The tyranny of cravings and excessive wilfulness dehumanize and despiritualize life, leaving us without satisfaction or serenity.
Retaliation, over-controlling and entitlement deepen and lengthen suffering and wounds. Symptoms and cravings do not define a person or a life; they are messages from parts of us that need attention, understanding and healing. Obtaining what we think we need from others or life does not create health and happiness, for we are no longer infants. Waiting until our ship comes in or we win the lottery will not fulfill us. The solution lies in what we give, and what we give up right now, to promote health and happiness.
There is a way out
We can learn to contain pain compassionately, as we would hold a precious, crying child. Relief comes when we practice active solutions that engage the healing power of love and focus on what we can positively create, rather than what we fear and hate. It is possible to cease enabling, cooperating and participating in negativity, and commit to healthy, responsible personal caretaking and stewardship.
Regaining control of our lives takes place when we demonstrate clear boundaries with anyone who would harm us, and pray for them as we pray for ourselves. Tension eases when we direct our attention to healing, learning, growing and ultimately transforming our wounds and problems into character assets and spiritual principles.
Relinquishing greed for gratitude, chaos for serenity, and self-righteousness for humility can happen. We can exchange anger and blame for compassion and understanding, and transform violence into peace and reverence for life. These are the promises of surrendering negative energies and defence mechanisms, and living in solution. We are meant to not only give up our unhealthy habits but to awaken to the realization of all that we were created to be, and to share that with the world. This is the promised freedom of recovery.
Out with the bad, in with self-discovery
It is helpful to identify our highest reasons for living, and what forces within us interfere with their coming to fruition. By dropping inner obstacles we can discover our healthy talents, interests and dreams, and commit to supporting their evolution. Become aware of a deep inner guidance and notice how it communicates; whether from feelings, visions, intuition or external signs.
Pausing to listen to that inner guidance is key. When we override higher consciousness and defer to habits, external pressure, laziness or fear, we lose integrity – and integrity is the foundation for self-esteem. When we lack genuine esteem, defense mechanisms attempt to compensate for this. Defenses backfire when they are over-used, however, resulting in the appearance of character defects and symptoms that tell us that we are not well.
The recovery of wellness and integrity does not occur from demonstrating occasional acts of kindness or expressing gratitude when it is convenient or self-serving. It is a permanent alliance with a sense of wholeness and divinity. We must allow ourselves to feel fully what we love in ourselves, others, nature, animals, the planet, life, and our God. Awe and wonder are possible at any age. We must determine what we most wish to communicate with the world, and what we wish to learn from our world. When we become still and quiet, only then do we see deeply into the essence and the interconnectedness of life. At last, we start to notice ways in which we experience holiness, miracles, blessings, divine intervention, guidance and love from our Higher Power.
Freedom from external “fixes” allows us to live with open, loving hearts. Freedom from negative emotions enlarges and deepens our faith. Freedom from unhealthy behaviors lets us live from our soul’s purpose. Remembering that, in our core, we are all magnificent miracles, propels us to demonstrate the highest humanitarian and spiritual values. Freedom arises from full recognition of our highest self, our unique purpose, and how we serve others in this life. The more this recognition becomes reality, the more of Heaven we bring to earth. There is no greater freedom than this.
Mary Cook is the author of Grace Lost and Found: From Addictions and Compulsions to Satisfaction and Serenity. She has 34 years of clinical practice and 29 years of university teaching experience and is available for counseling, guided meditation, speaking engagements and in-service training. Contact her by email and visit her website. Read Mary’s previous articles for Soul’s Code, Surviving the agony of compulsive behavior and The pain and pleasure of living in the moment.
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