Mindfulness: to Improve Commitment to Recovery
The perception that addiction is a disease has many benefits. It allows us to see that we need help and that our brain and body may have been affected and may need medical attention. It teaches us humility. It also allows us to destigmatize the problem.
As a mindfulness therapist, I like to see addiction in the context of personal growth, not just as a medical issue with a specific treatment approach. It is common in our human experience to ignore our hurt, or to compensate for our hurt, and to resist growth. In a way, anything that separates us from our self has the potential to become an addiction. It can be anger, victimization, greed, etc.
If addiction contributes to a disconnection from our healthy self, then the solution is to learn about connection, to learn that we have an inner world that needs our attention, and to establish a relationship with that inner world. Our inner world needs a healthy way to express itself. The path to becoming aware of our inner world is called mindfulness.
I wish that paying attention to children’s inner worlds was an aspect of schools’ curriculum. Children have an inner world: they have feelings, they have their own perceptions and experiences, and their own dreams. They can see what their parents are doing and not doing. I remember being able to tell when adults were lying. That felt very confusing to me. Why would they do that? From my child’s perspective, why lie if it was so obvious from the outside? I also remember hearing conversations that indicated that men were not intuitive and that women were. That was very confusing to hear as a young boy who thought of himself as being intuitive. As a child, I sometimes wondered if there was something wrong with me.
If we do not acknowledge children’s inner worlds, they feel ignored, at least in part. And that part that seems ignored is also deeply personal, so it hurts. They may interpret that experience by feeling that they do not matter. Then they must re-learn that they matter later in life. But they may go through a period of anguish and anxiety not knowing what felt ignored in them until their life has become painful, chaotic, and/or unmanageable.
Connecting with our inner world can sometimes feel like we are given a voice for the first time. It can feel both scary and empowering. It can bring up memories we forgot. It can give us a sense of self. When we have a sense of self, we no longer make decisions out of duty or from external pressures. Our commitment becomes a commitment to our self and has a better chance of success.