Addiction. What does this word mean to you? Once upon a time, I gave it a completely different meaning than I do today. You see, it was so much easier for me to LOOK at other people’s lives than my own. I had allowed my ego to convince me that I didn’t have any addictions – they did! They, meaning the people who would partake in the earthly temptations of: alcohol, food, gambling, sex, drugs, sugar, shopping, and coffee… a tad too much. They, who needed to change so that I could finally feel comfortable. They, who were NOT… me.
It was so much easier to analyze other people’s problems than to look at my own addictions. And my mind would continually convince me that I did not have any. Well… none that were THAT big of a deal. I created more separation from my fellow man, secretively wondering when people were going to get their acts together. At times I withheld compassion, riding on the ferris wheel of fear. I created an isolating circle of judgement. Yes, I lived this until I had had enough.
“Addictions are the ONLY cause of suffering – no exceptions!”
– Cinnamon Lofton
About five years ago, I was invited to Al-Anon, a twelve step program for families of alcoholics. “But wait, I don’t have an alcoholic in my life,” I said out loud. I decided to go regardless. Little did I realize that my Irish roots were drowning in booze, laced with a history of gambling braggadocio. And thus, my journey back to my heart began. Sure, I had been in and out of therapist’s offices for over ten years and validated up the ying yang, but it was time for me to put my big girl pants on and take responsibility. It was in the comforting rooms of Al-Anon where I learned that when you finger point, three fingers point back. And, fixing other people’s problems were none of my business, for I was getting in the way of their process.
Ding! Ding! Ding! What a relief! I had an overgrown sense of responsibility that was not working for anyone. Within two weeks, I got myself a sponsor and started working the program. But it wasn’t until I attended my first Living Love class that I began to learn about addictive demands.
“An addiction is a programming that triggers uncomfortable emotional responses and excites your consciousness if the world does not fit the programmed pattern in your mind. The identifying characteristic of an addiction is that if your desire is not fulfilled, you respond emotionally in a computer-like way and automatically play out a program of anger, worry, anxiety, jealousy, fear, etc. That which you emotionally avoid is just as much of an addiction as is something you desire.”
“Addictive demands are any emotion-backed demand that something be different than it is.”
– Ken Keyes Jr.
These are the demands and expectations we have of ourselves as well as others, which, when not satisfied, lead to suffering. Consequently, I had A LOT of expectations of myself as well as the people who I call friends and family. I “thought” life was “happening” to me; when really, it was my created inside programs, belief systems, and triggers that were reacting to the life events. It was my addictive demands – NOT their behavior.
Wait a second, what’s wrong with demanding that someone not abuse their wife, child, or kill someone? How is that an addiction?
The answer is simple and not always easy to apply…
There is nothing wrong with that. We have a right to our anger, our hatred, and our righteous indignation.
The question is not why is that wrong; the question begs… do I want to create peace as I strive toward a kinder and gentler world? Peace is never achieved through addiction.
When we see with our hearts that our addictions and addictive demands are the SOLE cause of our unhappiness, we then have a choice to claim our power, roll up our sleeves, and take responsibility for making changes.
So, how do we achieve this?
We up-level our addictions to… PREFERENCES.
With a preference, you can still want a certain outcome, but you are NOT attached to it. If it does not occur, you can remain centered in spite of it all. You surrender and trust the “what is,” claiming that everything is here FOR your spiritual growth. EVERYTHING. If you are suffering, you are addicted. Pain is an unavoidable part of life, but suffering is a choice. I have experienced that it is easier to change my addictive models than to fight the “what is.”
Once I learned about addictive demands and that I was keeping myself stuck in separation from my truest self, I began to make dramatic changes. With change came movement. And I hopped onto the ferris wheel of Love. Sure, I still choose to switch rides from time to time (you know, just to check the temperature), but inevitably, the view is far more spectacular from the heart of oneness.
Fear is a circle and so is Love.
Which one do you want to spin around in?
With all my heart,