Beneath the perceived complexity of addiction—beneath layers of chemical dependency, psychological and emotional instability, complicated relationships, fear and trauma—lie some incredibly simple truths.
These simple, universal truths apply to every human on earth, no exceptions. They are that universal. These truths apply to you regardless of the nature of your habit and regardless of how long you’ve been suffering.
They don’t care who you are or what you’ve done in your life. They have nothing to do with your physical or mental capacity; your age, sex, or religion; or how many people you’ve helped or hurt. They lie beyond your diagnosis, prognosis, or how many steps you’ve completed.
Realizing these truths begins with seeing that you are made of health and resilience, now and always. Innate health and infinite resilience is who you are. It is the default backdrop that never changes. Your capacity for, and inclination toward, thriving is stable and always present.
Think of who you deeply are—your healthy, default nature—as the sky. The sky is always blue. Weather moves through the sky masking its clear blueness, but the sky is still blue whether it appears that way or not. The sky is unaffected by the weather. Weather moves through, creates some temporary commotion, and then moves out, naturally and on its own, without exception.
The same is true of you and your human experience. You are healthy, clear and wise, just like the blue sky. And your addiction is like the weather. Your addiction is made of impermanent, passing-through thoughts and feelings, urges and cravings. Those passing-through feelings are not fundamental to who you are and so your addiction isn’t either.
Like the weather, your human experience is always changing. Even when the sky looks grey and overcast for a long time, there is movement. The clouds are moving, the air is moving, and particles in the atmosphere are constantly in a state of flux. Your “human weather” is the same. Regardless of how stuck you feel and how long you’ve felt that way, there is unending movement. It may be subtle, but it is happening. Your moods, feelings, cravings, sensations and memories are moving and evolving. There is great momentum—a force of nature, in fact—ensuring that your experience passes through you seamlessly and naturally, like weather.
We all have just one addiction: addiction to our own experience. We become addicted to our internal weather; our impermanent, safe thoughts and feelings.
We take our thoughts, feelings, urges and cravings very seriously. We get caught up in them. We misunderstand them, mistakenly believing that because we feel the urge to do something, we must do it.
We innocently miss the fact that our experience isn’t “us” or “ours”. It’s simply human weather passing through. We believe that we need to do something to end the discomfort, but everything we do to fix or change our experience tends to make things worse.
We buy our own stories, get caught up in our own painful lies, and fear our own safe, temporary emotions. We’re addicted to staring at the weather, imbuing it with meaning and importance it doesn’t actually deserve.
Recovery is about recovering the common sense way of naturally being that we knew as children. The way we lived in the world, letting our common sense and innate wisdom guide us through life.
Recovery is about recovering our innate health and resilience. That means paying less attention to the weather and returning our gaze to the blue sky backdrop that is within us all. Not denying or suppressing, but acknowledging and respecting what is real, true and stable, and giving less weight to what is not.
Life was incredibly simple before we became addicted to our thoughts and feelings.
The good news is that you have not actually lost your health and common sense so it is much easier to “recover” it than it may seem.
Look toward the supportive nature of life itself and the amazing resourcefulness that is alive and well within you right now.
These simple truths allowed me to walk away from an 8-year struggle with binge eating and I’ve seen the realization of them help countless people begin to experience true freedom.
All humans have the same basic design, and it is an unbelievably forgiving one. There is limitless hope for us all.
(This article was written for and published in June edition of The Sober World Magazine)