Healing the Hurt Behind Addictions - A Course in Miracles In Action
Those of us, who have been around the Course for a long time and have allowed it to steadily guide us in the "unlearning" of falsehood, find life to be an increasingly rewarding and surprising adventure. It certainly is an adventure to write a book that appears on your list of things to do as if with a will of its own and fascinating to reflect on the way a casual comment or encounter can alter the direction of one's life. For example, a few months after I presented a workshop about healing the source of addictions, a friend transcribed the tapes created at that seminar for her own use. She sent me a copy, saying that she enjoyed them so very much she wanted to be able to read and underline the material in addition to listening to it.
My friend's comments called forward an inner knowing that, indeed, this material was to be published. As she followed her guidance, it revealed my own next step. It is both precious and reassuring to see such obvious evidence of the interdependent wisdom that weaves our lives together in our mutual healing and offering to the world. My own offering, and my delight, is teaching the message of the Course, often to groups or individuals who know nothing of the Course and would proclaim their lack of interest in it if they did. Therefore, sometimes I do not use its terminology or even refer to it. My self-appointed task is to speak with ordinary language of the issues that are common to us all and, most importantly, to clarify how we are to proceed if we expect life to be a happy, fulfilling enterprise. Therefore, a workshop on addictions is really one of the many ways A Course in Miracles is presented in disguise.
No life stands a chance of being happy and fulfilling when driven by our various addictions. More fundamentally, no life can be rewarding when we dance to the tune of our insane ego minds with its focus on guilt, blame, and specialness. The pain caused by believing and investing in the "truth" of our guilt and that of others is the sole cause of our addictions--all addictions, whether they are activities to which we are driven or substances abused. A major point is that all of us, to one degree or another, still retain fears about our own guilt and thus, we are all addicted to something. We all hide out somewhere. Surely, those of us who are drawn to our own paths of self-discovery will acknowledge our desire - our addiction - to being in control, if nothing else comes immediately to mind.
Thus, to be free of addictive behavior and substance abuse, we must be free, or at least, freer of our basic addiction to guilt - just the topic the Course addresses so relentlessly. To try to change behavior when operating on a basis of "I'm unworthy/you're unworthy" is maddeningly impossible. However, when we decide to take the Course up on its offer to free us from that terrible allegiance to fear, our peace of mind returns, life flows easily, and addictive behavior fades away on its own. The disappearance of inappropriate behavior stems automatically from a refocus away from learned, incorrect beliefs of lack of value and toward the truth of our eternal, blessed nature. The gift of awareness of our healing is perpetually available, simply awaiting our acceptance.
Over my twenty-four years as a student/teacher/counselor of the Course I have found that, without exception, everyone has the same issues, same fears, same false notions and, happily, the same process works to heal anyone's mind. It has become clear as a bell, just as the Course teaches, that any pain we experience and the interpretation of worthlessness that derives therefrom is the inevitable outcome of ego identification. Sure enough, also as the Course consistently attests, we try to hide, resist, or correct that pain rather than engaging in the process of acceptance/forgiveness. As we all are learning, that hiding and resisting mode does nothing but increase pain and a sense of deprivation. Sooner or later, it is promised, we will all give up trying so hard to fix our lives and learn to change our minds about ourselves, others, our relationships, and what we're here for in the first place. Quite a tall order, but possible.
To quote from page 19, "The first predictable step in this process involves bringing all the feelings we have deliberately ignored into unavoidable awareness. Here is the place in the process where major healing can occur and peace of mind can be restored. Unfortunately, this is also where our unexamined and erroneous assumptions are allowed the upper hand. At this first point, so easily translated into the next healing step, most of us quickly thwart the inborn healing process by denying these disturbing feelings. We mistakenly back away from them and rush to our addictions -- both to the commonly recognized substances and the socially acceptable, even culturally encouraged ones -- in order to shove them out of awareness. And the closed loop of pain and the attempts to medicate it continues."
Having seen this dynamic of creating pain and then denying/hiding played out with such predictable and unhappy results, my interest is in helping anyone who chooses to pause at that place where upset is detected and to look at it through different eyes. We can accept a better way of living as we realize that the Course is an imminently practical document and that its precepts apply, without exception, to everyone's circumstances. The promise of release that it offers always holds good when we proceed as it directs. And how does it direct? To be willing to become aware of all the pain, insanity, and guilt we have refused to allow into awareness on the grounds that our imagined "worthlessness" will be confirmed if we do.
The second part of the book, the result of the next phase of guidance regarding this project, is a collection of excerpts from interviews with twenty-eight people who have allowed themselves to be freed from the tyranny of their own ego minds and their addictions. Most of them are Course students and credit the power and relevance of its teaching with their success in letting go of their various addictions. To a person, every one interviewed initially held this same false notion that allowing themselves to be aware of their pain, their fear, or their ideas of inadequacy would doom them forever. Like everyone, they believed that finally facing their distress was akin to emotional or social, if not physical, suicide. Happily, they persevered with their practice of challenging that depressing ego voice, chose to care for themselves and others, and the healing occurred as promised.
The Course's promise is simple - change what you believe about yourself - and your feelings, thoughts, actions, circumstances, and words will automatically follow. We are comforted and encouraged as we finally do pause at the instant of distress or fear and walk right into it - embrace it, accept it, own it, rather than distracting ourselves with our addiction of choice. Sure enough, as we do the unthinkable -- acknowledge the fear or pain -- transformation is automatic. Peace and power return to us and we are healed.
A Course in Miracles might rightly be considered the graduate course in addressing addictions. To adopt its perspective and practice its lessons ultimately eliminates the seductive pull of the "specialness plot." With Spirit always as our inner voice we become free to accept our value and watch addictions lose their appeal as a tranquil heart and mind - our birthright -are reestablished.
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