Do you recall living a life in disharmony as a person in active addiction? While many in recovery want to forget, there’s great value in remembering where we came from.
In addition to the relentless cravings, the brutal hangovers, the heartbreaking missed opportunities, and the scary blackouts, there was something even worse brewing inside (no pun intended)! Bottom line: A person in active addiction is living in disharmony because they are living with significant daily cognitive dissonance.
My IOP addiction counselor would often point out inconsistencies with our addictive thoughts, in our addiction stories, and with our addictive behaviors. For example, we might say to others we are in recovery, and even attend AA meetings, but we will stop at a liquor store, and secretly hide our liquor with the self justification that we had a hard day or it’s the final episode of Game of Thrones after all (doesn’t everyone get wasted watching GoT?). These are classic examples of cognitive dissonance.
The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feelings of discomfort that result from simultaneously holding two conflicting beliefs, such as “Drinking alcohol is harming my body” and “I need alcohol to survive.” Clearly these beliefs cannot mutually coexist peacefully.
The stronger these conflicting beliefs are associated with what’s most important in our daily lives, the harder the struggle is to reconcile. For example, saying that you love colorful clothing but usually wear black is not a big issue to handle (maybe black does look better on you!), but stating you are focused on a nutritious diet to boost your immune system and then eating ice cream after dinner does not compute (unless this is how you take your glutathione, and then, by all means, get a second scoop!). Also, stating that you’re aiming to get out of debt, but then online shop for yet another designer handbag or other accessory will only offer more financial woes (although you will definitely look fabulous!).
Many people struggle with cognitive dissonance but addicts surely have this worse than most because it’s in their nature to live in a state of dishonesty, with total focus on getting the addicted substance or behavior. The frequency and strength of the addiction, is directly proportional to the depth of deceit, and ultimately resulting in greater cognitive dissonance.
However, cognitive dissonance is also a powerful motivator which will often lead us to change one or the other conflicting beliefs or actions. This discomfort feels like a tension, or burning energy, between two opposing thoughts. To release the tension, we look to the following options:
- change our behavior, ex: We stop drinking. (Best case scenario.)
- change our language/thoughts, ex: I don’t care if I have a problem. (Dangerous scenario.)
- justify our behavior by changing the conflicting belief, ex: I don’t really have a problem with drinking since I’ve never had a DUI, lost my job, or can stop for a week. (Putting off the issue.)
- justify our behavior by adding new beliefs, ex: Drinking is OK for me since my shaman told me I don’t really have an addiction; it’s an energy problem. (Changing the focus.)
Since alcoholism is a progressive disease, the justifications need to continually change. In AA, we call this “setting a new low bar.” For example, we will justify that we don’t have a drinking problem because we never had a DUI, but then we’ll be stopped by the police and issued a DUI. Then, we’ll change the justification to that we don’t have a drinking problem because we still have a great paying job until we lose our job. This progression is unfortunately all too common, and does not discrimate across sex, age, race, class, or nationality. The professional executive woman, the mother of 3 children, the teacher, the minister, the PTA President,..all are the same in the face of alcohol use disorder.
This process of self deceit and dishonesty is possibly doing just as much harm than the actual addiction because both the mind and the spirit are involved, creating a system-wide energetic agitation. Inconsistent or conflicting beliefs lead to disharmony in the mind, body, and spirit. Spiritual healers strongly believe this will cause blockages in our energy systems, including the chakras, meridians, and all bodily energetic systems. Chakras, meaning “wheel of energy,” are consciousness centers that transform energy and interface between the dense physical world of the 5 senses, and the subtle worlds of pure consciousness. Chakras are invisible balls of energy that help disperse the body’s energy (called chi or prana) to best support our mind, body, and spirit. Our 4th chakra, Vishuddha (triangle area of throat, mouth, ears) chakra, is particularly affected by dishonesty because it’s responsible for our communication, especially our Truth. If we continue to tell lies over and over, we are bombarding and assaulting our 4th chakra. In eastern medicine, it is thought that these negative behaviors can manifest to disease, for example, thyroiditis. So, dishonesty can create significant physical disease in addition to the addiction’s detrimental effects.
Fortunately, this disharmony can become so uncomfortable, that for some people, it’s a first step into the world of sobriety (or said another way, it’s the “rock bottom” for some). You may hear comments such as: “I just couldn’t stand the dishonesty any longer.” “As a yoga teacher, it’s against my values and dharmic mission to use chemical substances to relieve my stress when I then teach that pranayama and meditation offer authentic grounding and enlightenment.” “My family stopped counting on me for anything, and I realized I just couldn’t keep up the facade any longer.” Getting to this point in your addiction journey is a breakthrough! It’s an opportunity to surrender a life of dysfunction, and get the full support needed to heal and move forward.
There are numerous effective strategies and treatments available to a path of sobriety, recovery, and transformation. Recovery coaching is one offering that has recently gained traction since it focuses on the present and future (addiction counseling will often focus on the past), and can offer transformational growth, peace, and happiness living a life in recovery, a mental state many thought not possible in their lifetime. There are countless other modalities, but I will highlight the ability to now energetically support correction of the human body field. As an NES bioenergetic practitioner, assessing the body field to determine energy distortions and blockages, and then correcting through infoceuticals or the mihealth device, offers another approach to energy alignment. This along with yoga, acupuncture, cranial sacral therapy, and other energetic body work all contribute to enhancing the body’s energy system for healing and vitality. Click here to learn more about bioenergetic healing.
Once sober, the thought of returning to the constant state of cognitive dissonance can be enough to motivate one to continue on the path into recovery. So, yes, it’s great to remember where you’ve been, but even more satisfying to know you have no intention to return!
“Happiness is…[when] what you think, what you say, and what you do are in perfect harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi