When we think of the word addiction, we usually think of drugs or alcoholism. Many of us may think that we are not addicted to anything, yet modern society in general is full of addictive behaviors. Anything we use to distract ourselves is a form of addiction. In fact, all addictions stem from the need to get away from what we are feeling, to numb the pain, the emptiness, the disillusionment. Maybe we use the television or the internet to get away from ourselves. Maybe we open the fridge or light a cigarette whenever we feel anxious. The form the addiction takes will vary, as may the level of obsession, but that inner feeling of discontent is the root of all addictive behavior.
The reason we have such difficulty being with ourselves is that we have lost sight of our true essence; what I call love-consciousness. Love-consciousness is the experience of absolute freedom and joy that lies within all of us, but that due to all the things we have been through in our lives, has become hidden from view. It lies beneath layers of self doubt, resentment and frustration, accumulated through the disappointments and traumas of a lifetime. It hasn't gone anywhere; we have simply become distracted, so accustomed to looking outside of ourselves for completion that we have forgotten where to find it.
The result of this disconnection from self is that as adults, we do not love ourselves. Most of us don't even know what that means. "You need to love yourself," has become a catch phrase, a clever comment to throw around at dinner parties, but beyond a vague idea of self-confidence, it remains an abstract concept. Many of the most confident looking people in the world do not love themselves at all. I know; I was one of them. To the world around me, I always appeared outgoing, entertaining and charming, but these qualities had become the mask that hid my insecurities from view.
Self love starts with self acceptance. In order to love yourself, you must embrace the parts of yourself that you reject. Resentment, jealousy, anger, shame; it is by loving these parts of yourself that you will become free of them. True strength will come when you discover the power of vulnerability.
Vulnerability is something most of us avoid at all costs. It is the worst place we would want to put ourselves in, and certainly not something we would actively seek! Yet there is great power to be found in vulnerability; the power of truth. When you are vulnerable, you are being real. You are showing yourself exactly as you are.
The magic of vulnerability must be experienced; It cannot be fully understood until you try it for yourself. When you dare to be vulnerable, you step outside your comfort zone, into the unknown. You let go of control, you confront the fear of rejection, and you put your own truth above the need to please others. Vulnerability is the ultimate act of self love, it is the key to breaking codependency and releasing the flimsy crutch of outside approval. Try it. Maybe you will discover the unique beauty that lies in the parts of yourself you have learned to avoid.
Where do you avoid being real in your personal relationships? Often, it is those we are closest to that we have the most difficulty being honest with. Observe the places where you hide, where you steer clear of moments of intimacy and emotion. Try doing the opposite of what you would normally do: try challenging the limits you have put upon yourself. You will begin to discover new facets of life, places of magic and discovery.
Love of self is the only way to permanently heal an addiction. Just as non smokers quickly gain weight, cutting away the leaves of a habit is not the solution; new foliage will grow back soon enough. If you want to be free of addiction, heal the root. Go inwards and fill the emptiness with love. Then your addictions will fall away by themselves, for there will be no hole left for them to fill.