Monday, March 31, 2014

Don't Push the River

“Don’t Push the River”

Don’t push the river means “let things go.”  Sometimes doing nothing and getting out of our own way is the best source of action.  Most likely you are traveling this path of sobriety because of the things you “do.”  It is the action you take that has led you here.  By learning how to do less or nothing at all, we will gain a huge advantage against addictive thoughts and behaviors.

Addiction is about control.  Control is an idea.  It is a bedtime story.  It is a warm fuzzy blanket that lets us feel brave and secure from the monsters under the bed.  However, control does not exist.  It is a figment of our imaginations.  Don’t take our word for it though.  Try to control every aspect of your day.  Try to control other people.  I think you will soon see, as we did, that control is exhausting, frustrating and fruitless.

Life is more about adaptation and change than it is about control.  Control is not a useful tool in recovery.  In contrast, flexibility, adaptability, detachment and meditation ARE useful tools and we will learn how to use them like a master carpenter.

From our perspective, addiction can be equated on a psychological level with the inability to accept the present moment as it is.  Addicts have a very hard time being fully present in the moment.  Now, if your present moment is pleasant, like getting a massage, we have no problem being present fully.  It’s when the now is unpleasant that we seek a reversal of this feeling or a way to suppress it.  Drugs work marvelously well in this regard.  They change the present moment immediately.  They are an instant replacement of the now.  However, the duration is short and the cost of this solution is very high.  In this workbook, we are searching for a long term, low cost method in dealing with the present and our place within it. 

Carl Jung is considered by many, including Bill Wilson, to be the early inspiration for Alcoholics Anonymous.  Jung proposed that the yearning for addictive substances is really a yearning for communion with the higher self or spirit.  In essence, he thought of alcoholics as people desperate to have a spiritual experience and only through a process of spiritual enlightenment could the addict emerge as a new person free from the bondage of addiction.  He often referred to alcoholics/addicts as “frustrated mystics.”

The root of the word addiction in Latin means “addicere” – to give consent, or to go along with.  This is the root word used for “dictator”.  In other words, the addicted mind can be viewed as a tiny little dictator telling us what to do, what to say and what to think.  It stands on its little podium waving its hands and spitting out its commands like a rabid dog barking at phantoms and creaks in the floor.  The worst part is WE gave our consent to this dictator. 

The addictive cycle begins with our giving up our own free will and consenting to whatever the chemical substance wants.  It becomes our ruler.  Through the course of this workbook, we want to encourage you to revolt against this dictator.  We encourage you to stage a coup in your own mind and elect a new leader.  The new leader’s aim will be to spread love, compassion and well-being.  Like a good king, this will be the new leader’s aim.  

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