This post is written with full respect for and not meant to minimize the depth of addiction. It is intended to open people up to seeing where addiction does show up in your life and ideally as an invitation to read more about this mind-blowing take on addictive energy by picking up this book and reading it cover to cover.
Philip Kavanaugh, author of “Magnificent Addiction”, completely turned my view of addiction on its head. In this book, he talks about addictive energy being a restless energy within all of us. This restless energy is an addictive need to be in control of our life. This control is a very specific type of control that shows up on the outside with a wide variety of behaviours. This form of control is an expression of our need for a sense of self-worth. This is worth saying twice; this restless, addictive energy is a form of control that is an expression of our need for a sense of self-worth.
The ironic thing that happens throughout our life is that even though we are looking to define our self as worthy, we look outside of our self (or, better yet) our ego looks outside of our self for that definition. (Are you with me recognizing the absurdity of that?)
The root of this irony and absurdity stems in childhood. The seeds of addiction are planted when our capacity for infinite trust and love are shattered* (often by attempts to satisfy the perceived requirements / judgments of our parents, caregivers, teachers - the ones we trusted and loved the most.) Note how even this is externally defined. When we continue on a path to attempt to define our self-worth externally, the search is futile and we ultimately find ways to escape the judgments and the feelings and beliefs that come along with them. The thing is, we can never get away from these judgments because at some point very early in our life, we often become the one to carry the judgments most harshly. (If that felt like a bit of a mind twist - feel free to read it again. It is important to fully grasp.)
For many, this is liberating to understand and grasp. Once we understand that self-worth is at the root of addictive energy and we realize that we are responsible for our futile search of looking outside for something that can only be identified and defined from within, we become response-able (able to respond) to re-direct our energy and our search to the inside - where the foundation of our SELF-worth is really found, defined and actualized.
How, you may ask?
The first step is to recognize the symptoms of control and escaping your own judgments; drinking, drugs, shopping, exercising, cleaning, gambling, eating/not-eating, busy-making, over-working…these symptoms are variations of addictive behaviour that we may all act on in one form or another.
Second step is to stop escaping. The truth of your experience, in that moment, then becomes your private tutor* that can alert you to the opinions, beliefs and feelings that you have buried and suppressed. When you let go and surrender to your own internal experience and conversation, you will begin your path towards defining your very own internal sense of self-worth.
It is from here, and only here, that you can then create the external work, relationships and family that truly matter to you.
“Addiction is the energy that leads us to what is within.”
*Magnificent Addiction - Philip Kavanaugh