Dealing with addiction

Client: I am away on holiday and have had a relapse. I spent the day compulsively looking for ways to get around the checks I put in place – but then I slipped. This has got to stop. I’m not sure exactly what I’m asking of you but you mentioned that I could reach out. Any advice you could offer would be very much appreciated.

Shomit: I can understand the slip: you are on holiday and have unconsciously decided to take a holiday as well from the hard work of resisting your addiction! Having said that, the best thing about your email is that it combines a clear statement of intention with an action: you are quite explicit about wanting to give up your addiction and, by writing to me, have proactively taken a step in the right direction. This combination of intention and action is very powerful. The intention signals to the unconscious what you want to achieve, and the action signals to the unconscious that you are very serious about it. The unconscious is a massive resource and never fails to do whatever it is you want it to do, provided you give it clear direction. You have done that – and you will feel the benefit.

Mixed in with the determination to recover there is often a teeny bit of what I call the “not now” syndrome. Resist this: the time to begin a process of recovery is always and only NOW. If you put this off, you are in effect sending the unconscious mixed messages – which erodes the clarity of your intention. The key is to focus on the “moment of relapse”: there is always a split second when both options – to relapse or not to relapse – clearly present themselves. To ensure that you take the “not to relapse” path, spend some time visualising the moment and see yourself choosing the correct option. If you do this repeatedly, you will “programme the default”: you will train the brain to make the correct decision instinctively. You must do this afresh every day. Once you get into a rhythm, the rhythm will carry you. Make sure, however, that you don’t get complacent: there is often a tendency to “reward” ourselves for our hard work by permitting ourselves a small slip – which quickly becomes a big slip. The key word then is vigilance.

When you are back I will do two kinds of work to help you. First, I will teach you some meditations which will programme you to have the strength resist slips. Second, I will address the underlying issue as to why you are burying yourself in your addiction: what is the void you are trying to fill or the pain that you are trying to escape from? There may be deeper answers to these questions than you realise – and when we address them, the addiction will fall away. In the meanwhile, practice the visualisation, taking one day at a time. I look forward to seeing you when you are back.


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