To move beyond addiction, it’s essential that we come home to our True Self.
One way of understanding the separation between our human and spiritual selves is to compare our “soul” or “essence” to our “personality”. Our “essence” is whole, beautiful, undamaged, ever-present, loving, linked to all that is, intuitive and connected.
Our personality forms in infancy and childhood in response to the people and environments around us. When our “essence” isn’t received, cherished, loved or acknowledged, our personality creates armour and coping mechanisms to protect it. The personality is created to help us survive. It’s a set of reactive behaviour patterns that have become a habit, and includes feelings, body sensations, particular thoughts, words we use to define ourselves, images that occur in our minds, memories, projections and reactions. From the place of our “essence” we can watch its reactions with neutrality, humour, curiosity and compassion. We get into trouble when we identify with the personality as “who we are”.
The personality believes that in order for it to survive, one’s essence or true nature, must be denied or suppressed. The job of the personality is to deny essence. As infants and young children, when we acted from our true self, we were often not accepted. This was frightening and caused us to disconnect from our true self, because it was not possible to survive without acceptance and connection to others, particularly our parents. As children, we are utterly dependant on the nurturing, care and protection from other people.
The personality has a difficult time recognizing your essence. When your essence arises, the personality tries to invalidate it. That’s it’s job. Understand that is what the personality does. It’s not bad. There is no need to fight it or make it wrong. It’s trying to get you love and connection in whatever way possible. It uses creative strategies and coping mechanisms to accomplish this. Recognize it and be compassionate towards it.
If other people, because of their own limitations, traumas, and stressors, cannot see you for who you are or cannot accept you as you are, then it is likely you are going to make yourself into whoever they want you to be. The attachment to them and connection is essential for your survival. Becoming false is essential for your survival.
However, becoming false to yourself is very stressful and takes you away from what you are here to do and be. It is emotionally painful. This emotional pain often causes us to seek relief in the form of an addictive substance or behaviour.
When we grow up, and no longer need these coping mechanisms to survive, we have a longing to come home to the true self. The task at hand is to reunite with the true self and accept it as your primary identity. This is the essence of yoga. Dis-identify with the ego, but do appreciate it as a tool to use in daily life. Identify with the True Self rather than the personality as who you really are.
Many aspects of the egoic personality have value and we use them to navigate the world – for example the confidence to ask for what we want or need in a relationship. Other aspects of the personality are outdated and no longer serve us, such as being “overly defensive or rebellious”.
The Beyond Addiction program will help you deconstruct and relinquish these nonessential parts of your personality and lead you home to your True Self.
For details on upcoming Beyond Addiction programs, see https://beyondaddiction.ca/events/training-programs/
with gratitude to Dr. Gabor Maté, for sharing these ideas with so many