Recovery Workshop: Lesson Seventy-One
Permanent Recovery = Ongoing Awareness
In the "When is he going to stop kicking this dead horse?" category, the winner is...
As the Recovery Workshop comes to an end, you will soon be left with insight, experience and tools...but little direction as to how and when to use them. The answer to both can be found in how adept you become at maintaining awareness. Once you have learned how to manage urges, how to make decisions, how to recognize boundaries, how to utilize your values...you must develop the ability to recognize when these tools should be used.
Consider a person who, for the past six months, has been progressively deteriorating due to ongoing and increasing stress. Early on, they recognized the growing imbalance in their life but disconnected this realization with healthy life management. It was as if they said to themselves, "Well yeah, I know that I should slow down...I should regain balance in my life...I should reprioritize..." but ended such thoughts with "...but I can't. This is too important." Or, "...but I can manage this one on my own."
What happened? All of their learning, their insight, their tools were summarily dismissed and they left themselves to manage an emotional crisis with what? Emotions. This is never the right answer.
You need to develop an awareness warning system within you that acts much like virus protection does on a computer. It is constantly running in the background, without necessarily interfering with the work that you are doing. Your awareness should work the same way...constantly monitoring your environment for threats while you go about your normal life. But then, when a threat is observed...warning flags go up, you stop what you are doing, and you address that threat before going further. Before that threat has the ability to do significant damage to your foundation.
In the example above, a threat was observed. The individual had become aware that he was growing increasingly stressed. This should have triggered an action plan that would have allowed him to regain balance but instead, he hit the 'Ignore' button. And the threat continued to grow.
Another example: A woman is on a business trip away from her husband and has a bit too much to drink. First warning sign...she ignores it. While at a social event, she strikes up a conversation with a man and they really hit it off. Second warning sign...again, ignored. The night proceeds with flirtations and grooming until the suggestion is made that they spend the night together. In an instant, she recognizes the warning signs involved with spending the night with this stranger, but agrees and rationalizes that this is 'an exception'. That she won't do this again. That no one will find out. That...on and on and on.
In this case, her 'warning system' failed. She may have recognized the objective signs of trouble, but she was not really aware of the situation. Her emotions, not her values, were guiding her decision-making. If she was truly aware that there was a threat, she would have immediately stopped what she was doing...separated herself from the situation...then processed the situation through her value system. This did not happen because she never separated herself from the situation. She allowed herself to connect emotionally to the situation and never left that place...and so, all awareness was skewed by those emotions.
A Permanent End to Addiction
If you are to end your addiction permanently, you must develop this ongoing awareness in your life. And when this warning system is triggered, you must train yourself to immediately step outside of the situation (emotionally detach yourself) so that you can process it through your value system. You may still make a decision that prioritizes immediate emotional gratification over the risks/consequences of acting out, but it will not be done through ignorance. You will be aware of what it is you are doing and why.
This workshop does not teach morality; it teaches life management. Immorality can exist anywhere...but addiction can only survive in an environment of ignorance — either self-imposed, socially-imposed or otherwise. The deeper your awareness of how you manage your life, the less ignorant you become. And the less of a threat addiction becomes. Develop an ongoing awareness of how you are managing your life and you will never have to fear addiction again.