I Am An Addict
I have always thought that I do not have an addictive nature. Gratefully, I have not struggled with substance abuse, eating disorders, obsessive negative behaviours or the usual things we attribute to being an addict. Or have I?
I live with someone who does recognise his addictive tendencies and works on management on a daily basis and I have seen the devastating effects addictive behaviours have on our wider family, community and world.
Recently, I have however, become aware than I am indeed an addict.
I have been addicted to my own opinions.
It was both a shock and a yet totally freeing revelation to realise this. It is so true, of all of us, I venture to predict. If we are completely honest, take the time to sit back and objectively observe our thoughts, actions and reactions, we will all see that at some level we are totally hooked into our own way of thinking, often at the exclusion of learning and growth, often to the detriment of others around us and more often to the detriment and even downfall of ourselves.
Recognising this, I started to really observe my reactions to new information, challenging behaviours from and towards others, challenges to my thinking - and what I saw was an inbuilt defensive mechanism that often says ‘no’ first. Much of the ‘no’ might be subconscious – I do it automatically, perhaps just in my attitude, but none the less, there is often a ‘no’ there.
I have actually considered myself to be pretty open to new ideas and thoughts, and pretty accepting of many people and situations, opinions, beliefs, actions and reactions – I think that I have been blessed with that kind of nature. But when I really get down to it, I am still addicted to my own opinions – often at the expense of others and of my own personal growth and maturity.
That I am addicted to my own opinions is in itself, actually a difficult admission. Deep, deep down, I don’t like to be wrong.
So I got to thinking that maybe this is the point. My desire not to be wrong may not directly translate to always needing to be right, but there is an element of truth there.
The more I allowed myself to open my mind and objectively observe my own thoughts the more I was able to think outside the box. I started to hear and see world views from a different perspective. I started to recognise defensive behaviours in myself and others, and a deep resistance to change that is pretty inherent in all of us to some degree.
I re thought my views on free will and how we have the opportunity to make different choices in every aspect of our lives. We may not be able to choose a different circumstance, something that is happening to us, but we certainly have the choice to change our perspective and therefore often the outcome.
The more I practice this objective observation, the more I see my addiction and the more chances I have to make a different choice.
When I get angry I can now step back (sometimes it may take some time after the events to do this) and ask myself several questions.
Is my anger justified beyond my own defensiveness?
Am I reacting out of my addiction to my own opinions?
Can I see the other side of the argument/situation?
Can I put myself in the other person’s shoes and get a different perspective?
Did I react out of love or fear?
Do I need a different, more open, understanding of the situation?
Can I change my reaction and actions for a better outcome?
What might be the more positive result from a different reaction and action?
Can I put some strategies in place to keep growing and learning in regards to this particular situation?
And maybe the hardest question of all, but certainly the most important – Do I need to say sorry and make amends for my reaction and actions?
This may seem like a lot of hard work, but I have found the process to be so rewarding. Do I always get it right – certainly not – unfortunately. But I am doing it a lot better than I used to and I am finding deeper, more meaningful connectedness to people and circumstances, with less attachment. I am learning how to rest in my patience as I work it through. I certainly think it is worth the effort – in fact I am going so far as to say, I don’t think I can go back to being addicted to my own opinions – at least not when I am aware of it.
Here’s to continued recovery from addiction.
Merelyn’s writing is supported in part by the sale of her books. Autobiography - ‘The Deepest Part of Me’. ‘Inspire’ – inspirational reflections for your life’s journey. ‘Stories behind the Songs’ and her first children’s picture book ‘To The Moon and Back - Grandma’s Rocket Ship Adventure’. To find out more about her work and to support her through the purchase of her writings and music, please go to www.carterandcarter.com.au