Living Beyond

A Monthly Column By Dr. Asa Don Brown

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” ~ Samuel Johnson

The decision to quit using drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substances can prove a frightening experience. While the fears and anxieties are authentic, they may be overinflated by the mind’s exaggeration of ideas. When someone has an addictive habit,
they may reach into a well of limitless excuses in order to hang onto the habit. The excuses may range from fears associated with relinquishing the habit, to anxieties associated with managing one’s own life. “What if I cannot handle life without the substance?” “If I no longer use, am I going to be capable of managing my life?” “The addiction provides me personal strength.”

The human mind is most comfortable with the familiar. When the familiar is expelled from one’s life, the fears and anxieties are exacerbated by the unknown. It is the removal of an addictive substance or habit from one’s life that can be the catalyst of anxieties, intense fears and psychological triggers. Moreover, the addictive habit may have been a source of comfort, a means for self-medicating, or an aid to relieve their anxieties and fears.

RELINQUISHING CONTROL

“The truth is that everyone is bored, and devotes himself to cultivating habits” ~ Albert Camus

All habits are in essence a vice of control. Relinquishing one’s control is like removing a vital sense from the human condition. In the movie, “Limitless,” a movie about an unemployed writer Eddie Morra, played by Actor Bradley Cooper; Eddie finds himself challenged by life; the rejection of a girlfriend, the demands of writing, and financial struggles, when suddenly he is introduced to a substance that changes his world. Not unlike many substances or addictive habits, the vice Eddie has chosen has an attractive side. Its attractiveness is the temptation of unlimited wisdom and abilities.

While there is always an attractiveness and allure to an addictive habit, there is also the negative implications that come with such a substance. The attraction feeds on the unconscious and con scious desires for fulfillment and completeness. Of course, Eddie’s life is only a highlight of the lives of many abusers. Abusers of substances and alcohol are often known to have many egregious side-effects which may include:

Physiological Issues Such As:

Hallucinations, Cold Sweats, Muscular Weakness, Paralysis, Constipation, Inflammation, Insomnia, Respiratory Illnesses, Immune System, Itching, Bruxism, Sexual Impotence, Menstrual Disturbances, Sexual Orgasms (for men and women), Hives, and Blisters just to name a few of the conditions that come with an addictive habit.

Cognitive, Neurological and Psychological Issues such as:

Depression, Social Isolation, Withdrawn, Hallucinations, Suicidality, Homicidality and ultimately, possible loss of life just to name a few of the conditions that come with an addictive habit.

Likewise, there is always someone who is willing to sacrifice life and limb to obtain control of such a substance. Eddie finds himself at odds with politicians, the Russian mob, and others who want access to this drug. Of course, the movie glorifies the substances attributes which are a sense of enlightenment and heightened intelligence, but overlooks the addictive nature of the substance and the lingering side-effects. The movie has a variety of players who are vying for control of the substance and Eddie’s attention. Interestingly enough, the movie simultaneously glorifies and vilifies the world of chemical addictions.

In our world, we are all searching for a sense of control whether through a substance, actions, leadership, religion, education, or some other means; control is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Control has a way of filling voids and heightening desires. In many cases, the facade of control is only a perception. In reality, we will never have complete control over our physical bodies, our environments, or others who play roles in our lives.

The only reality is that we can manage and control the way with which we interact with our minds. You can have control over your perceptions about events that have an indirect and direct effect upon your life. You will never have complete control over the perceptions, attitudes, or beliefs of another.

GAINING CONTROL

Eddie Morra felt that he had lost complete control over his life, when of course, he discovered an unknown substance. While using the substance, Eddie had a perception of control, but with time, he realized that even his heightened intellect and sense of enlightenment was limited. Eddie soon realized that the only real control in his life was that
which he had over his perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs; beyond that Eddie was limited to the frailty of his humanity.

The good news is we all have the ability of learning to control our minds. We have an ability to control the perceptions of our thoughts and interpretations. While our world may be perceivably out of control, chaotic, and in complete disarray; our minds can remain at ease with the reassurance that our personal worth and goodness is not a reflection of perceptions of others.

Why is it that some individuals can remain calm during a horrific disaster? In simple terms, they have learned the art of control. They have learned that their personal self-worth, value, approval and acceptance has nothing to do with the good or bad that occurs in their lives. They have further realized that the only control that they have in this life is over their own person. When an individual learns to control their own minds- then-and-only-then, will they gain control over chaotic environments. Real control is the ability to remain composed during the turbulence of life.

THE FEARS OF LETTING GO

Letting go of a substance or habitual act is frightening. The act of letting go is an act of faith. You are trusting that you no longer need to control your environment by the means of an addictive habit. Again, the perception of control is a facade beyond that of our own minds. The good news is, we are capable of controlling our own perceptions, attitudes, and world views, and the reality is, we are only in charge of our own person.

The fears of letting go of a habit range from the perception that I will be losing control to the perception that I might not have a shoulder to lean upon. We are capable of living beyond the message of fear. We no longer need to be dependent upon the unpleasant emotion caused by our beliefs. Fear is driven by our belief that someone or something might cause us harm. Furthermore, it is driven by the possibility of pain associated with physical or psychological danger, threats, or unsafe environments. The truth is we have nothing to fear.

Fear should have no bearing upon our lives. A life lived without fear, is a life completely lived. We fear letting go, because we fear the unknown. What if you had a crystal ball with which you could see into the future? Would you no longer have fear, or would the fear become more intense because of your knowledge of the future? The reality is, the fear would become more compounded and your ability to overcome would be drastically decreased. A crystal ball would serve no good purpose but to expose our underlying fears.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we no longer choose to carry the baggage of fear. We must learn to lay aside our luggage and choose to move forward in this life. Fear has no place or right to be in your life. You must recognize that fear’s power is only enabled by its creator. You are ultimately the master and creator of your fears.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

What is your checklist of excuses? Why are you not willing to relinquish control? Do you feel smothered or controlled by your addictive habit? Are you willing to relinquish the fears associated with letting go of your chosen habit?

I beseech you to let go of the fears associated with your addictive habit. I implore you and beg of you, to begin the process of change within your person. You are a person deserving of positive change and a positive life. You are a person deserving of unconditional love, acceptance, and approval. You begin by believing in your own person.

While Eddie Morra thought that he had discovered the ultimate substance to live life; he failed to recognize that the ultimate supplier of life is within his own person. What will it take for you to relinquish control of your life? Ironically, when we learn to relinquish control of our lives through our addictive path, we ultimately learn to gain complete control of our lives by living an unconditional life.

May you begin living beyond.
Dr. Asa Don Brown

Author: Asa Don Brown, Ph.D., C.C.C., D.N.C.C.M., F.A.A.E.T.S.
Website: www.asadonbrown.com