(This is Part 2 of a 5-part series on addiction).
In Part 1 of this series of articles, I defined substance and process addictions, and described the four major false beliefs that underlie most addictions:
1. I cant handle my pain.
2. I am unworthy and unlovable.
3. Others are my source of love.
4. I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me.
This article addresses the first of these beliefs, and goes into the process of learning to manage your pain. Learning to manage pain is essential if you are going to move out of addictive behavior, since the intent of most addictive behavior is to avoid pain, coming from the belief that you cannot handle your pain.
Small children have few skills in managing pain. Parents are supposed to be there to help them with painful situations. Loving parents help children with pain by lovingly holding them, acknowledging their pain, hearing their pain, and soothing them in various ways, such kissing it and making it better when there is a cut or scrape, and being in compassion for difficult situations. Compassion toward a hurting child helps the child move through the pain and move on.
However, many adults had parents who, not only did not help them with their pain, but were the cause of the pain. When parents abandon children with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse or neglect, children are on their own regarding handling their pain. They are not receiving help and they have no role model for managing pain. When this is the case, addictions become the way to manage pain. Children learn early to eat, drink or take drugs to manage their pain. They learn early to numb out or act out with destructive or self-destructive behavior to avoid their pain. They may even learn to block out emotional pain by inflicting physical pain on themselves, such as cutting themselves.
In order to move beyond destructive and self-destructive behavior, you need to be in a process of developing a loving inner parent – a loving adult self – capable of giving your hurting inner child what he or she never received as you were growing up. The loving Adult is who we are when we are connected with a powerful spiritual source of love, strength and wisdom.
Your inner child is your feeling self. When you are experiencing the unbearable pain of rejection, loneliness, aloneness and abandonment and the unbearable terror of helplessness, it means that you are that child, with no inner adult to help you handle these terrible feelings. As an alone and terrified child, you will reach for whatever addiction has worked to sooth or block out the pain.
The reason the 12-Step programs have worked so well is because they help people to open to a spiritual source of strength. Without this source of strength, there is no way to manage the pain without the addictions.
We teach a Six-Step process, called Inner Bonding, which works very well along with the 12-Steps to help people in recovery from addictions. (See www.innerbonding.com for a free course). The key to recovery is to create a loving and powerful inner adult self, capable of connecting with a spiritual Source of love and compassion. The loving adult learns to bring to your hurting child all the love and compassion you didnt receive as a child.
Love and compassion are not feelings that are generated from within the body. These feelings are the essence of what God/Higher Power is. God is love, compassion, peace, truth and joy. When you open to learning about what is loving to yourself, with a personal source of spiritual Guidance, you will begin to be able to bring through the love and compassion that you need.
Love and compassion is what you need when you are hurting. Substance and process addictions do not fill the place within that needs love and compassion. Addictions merely block out the pain of the inner abandonment you feel when you are not giving yourself the love and compassion you need. The needed love and compassion is not going to come from another person. No matter how much you wish that someone could give to you what you didnt get as a child, it is not going to happen. You need to learn how to give it to yourself. When you do, you will be well on your way to recovery from your addictions.
Learning how to heal core shame and give yourself the love and compassion you need to recover from your addictions is the focus of the remaining articles in this series.