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Addiction & Soul


Posted by: Michael

Reading time: 4 minutes

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Buried somewhere underneath the actions of any person that is addicted can be found different reasons that drive their using. One of these reasons is usually a deep sense of shame.

A person can carry shame in their mindset for many years, feeling like:

  • You are rejected
  • You don’t deserve any decency
  • You are not good enough
  • You don’t matter

Resentment and pain build and build, and eventually a person will snap, detaching themselves from others and the world. They become cold, they become takers. They find relief in addiction.

For an addict, shame is usually very old, stuck inside since they were little, when feelings were happening that were too intense to be understood, explained, and resolved.

Facing the old feelings is a necessary part of breaking addiction, of becoming sober, and of personal transformation of any kind.

If you have an addiction, you may not even be aware that a core of shame is buried deep inside your sense of self. You may not even know that your mind is interpreting events and situations through this core of shame.

You could be cut off in traffic, interrupted in a conversation, or see someone roll their eyes at you, and this instantly triggers an old hurt that never healed. You end up running for whatever drug you use, to take the edge off, without even really knowing why you’re doing it.

The best opportunities you will have to face old shame,

and deal with it,

are when it is actually happening to you.

Notice when you are intolerant of discomfort. Notice when you have feelings that you cannot name. These moments are the clues that shame is buried somewhere close, and you’re about to find it.

Intolerance to discomfort means that you have a basic awareness that something feels painful, and you don’t like it. Maybe a comment from someone, or their facial expression, brought up feelings of being: rejected, inadequate, inferior, insignificant, unworthy, or devalued. You will likely have an immediate need to use, which will make you feel better, or at least feel nothing.

The delusion is that you have the power to erase discomfort.

The reality is that the discomfort will wait you out, and will still be there when the high wears off.

The only way to change a painful feeling is by facing it.

Feelings that you cannot name means that you have conditioned yourself to dissociate. You are disconnected from yourself, from your state, and running almost completely on autopilot.

The delusion is that your feelings don’t matter, that you don’t matter.

The reality is that every feeling you have is important, both pleasure and pain, because you can learn something about yourself, or about life, by asking yourself why these feelings are happening.

Letting shame occur means that you are facing it.

When you have found the old shame, and are in the moment of facing it, the way to resolve it is by asking yourself questions.

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • What is this about?
  • What am I avoiding?
  • When is the first time I ever felt this way?
  • What do I need to learn about myself, that I missed?

You may not get the answers the first time you ask, but the old shame will get triggered again, and you will have more opportunities.

As you learn more about yourself, you will understand how to resolve the old feelings that got stuck inside you, when you were little, and did not know how to explain them.

Now, you can go back to moments from long ago, when you felt worthless, or afraid, or inferior, or inadequate, and stand up for yourself. You would have done it then, if you knew how.

Now, you have more experience, more wisdom, more ability to affirm your own value and your own worth, no matter what happens around you.

Now, you can find the reasons to say why:  

You deserve every decency

You are good enough

You matter

Michael is the Lead Sobriety Coach and Head Blogger of Addiction Reality.