Why do I do things that are against my better judgement?
Because I am addicted to how they make me feel.
How to free oneself from addiction?
Discover what relief we have been depriving ourselves that makes us feel the need to escape or manipulate our state of mind. There is wisdom in the mistakes one makes, and to find wholesome ways of getting relief we may need to re-evaluate what we consider our “better judgement.” So-called mistakes represent lost parts of ourselves demanding to be recognized, and our judgements are invitations to find compassion for aspect of humanity that are confused and suffering.
To break destructive addictive habits, we can carve out quiet time and space to explore these urges rather than brush them under the rug. Repressing desire simply causes it to become compulsive and uncontrollable. This do it yourself, try it at home alone, approach does not apply to bad habits that are physically harmful. ( ie drug use, cutting etc.) I am referring to bad habits such as vanity, showing off, attention seeking, putting oneself down, codependency. Familiar behavior patterns that have become ruts.
We cannot simply decide who we wish to be and then ta-dah! We become that person. It doesn’t work like that. Our view of our self, something that is much more obvious to other people than to ourselves, is usually too personal to be truthful. We must accept our whole self, which is universal, or else we are living in denial.
The parts of ourselves that we do not accept typically get projected onto other people. The people we don’t like, that we are averse to. The ones we hope to avoid. There are also positive attributes of our nature that most of us have a hard time owning. We feel that, unless we can integrate a gift perfectly, we are not doing justice to it and hence are bereft of that good quality. This is not a competition in perfection. Gifts are just that. They are gifts not to be taken for granted. Once again, the strengths that we underestimate in ourselves are commonly projected onto others as well. That would be the people we give our power away to. We put them on a pedestal. (That isn’t doing them any favors by the way. It’s too much to ask of anyone to be up there.)
Let’s call all these disowned fragments of the self the alter-ego. We can become more whole, develop a more clear view of ourselves, and also have more real connections with other people, by reclaiming our strengths and weaknesses, befriending the alter-ego.
Consciously befriending one’s alter-ego might seem like an advanced practice, but it isn’t any more painful than making a foe out of anyone that reminds us of parts of us we cannot accept. The first step is knowing how to welcome pleasure and pain in moderation. It is painful to integrate the ugly sides of ourselves, and it is intoxicating to explore our innate power. Without moderation befriending the alter-ego can lead to extreme depression or narcissism. The antidote for this is remembering this is not a competition, and no strengths or weaknesses are personal. The meaning we make of life is unique, but there is no quality or perception that does not belong to all. We all are struggling with becoming whole. Writing, singing, dancing, painting, playing music or having friends to talk to about this can help a lot.
So, I’m home by myself. The curtains are drawn. The phone is off the hook. I’m not going to distract myself online or with chores or ‘shoulds’ of any kind. What happens? Craving for escape arises, of course, in the form of whatever my familiar addictive habits may be. Eating, checking my devices, organizing my stuff, going out, fill in the blank…
I turn on some music. Music I like but I don’t admit to anyone that I like. It doesn’t fit the persona I try to portray. I fix myself a snack, of exactly what I’m in the mood for, but slowly, without pigging out, a moderate amount on a nice plate. I steep myself tea in a pretty china cup. I dress up. In clothes I don’t want anyone to see me wear. It isn’t me. It’s quality time with the alter-ego.
Sitting down, I begin to write, a dialogue, a monologue. I stand up, I hang a dress on a hanger in the doorway between two rooms. A beautiful dress I am too ashamed to wear out of the house. I begin to talk aloud, addressing the air figure handing in the threshold in front of me.
“I’m sorry. I thought we weren’t friends. I thought you wouldn’t like me. I’ve been trying so hard to be good, to have it together, you know. I really wanted to understand you. I wanted to be like you, although that would contradict things I say I believe. I didn’t want you to judge me, (the way I have been judging you). There are adversaries to life, but they aren’t you. The real enemy is the desire for power in my heart, the shadows of fear, greed, resentment. We are so different, but that doesn’t mean we cannot get along. I disowned you pretending to have a personality that is consistent.
What did you see in me that made me run and hide?
Thank you. Thank you for telling me. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for showing me another way. Thank you for being my friend.”