In my search to find ways to deal with the intensity and often overwhelming nature of issues that seem intractable I have found three powerful qualities that inform how I experience myself and how I respond. If embraced, they can change how you view and meet the challenge of addiction in your loved one. Assuming them will empower you and provide you with a sense of readiness to meet whatever situation arises. The three principles are Immediacy, Inclusivity, and Limitlessness. All three are an aspect of present moment awareness and connect us to our creative source.
Immediacy — Open yourself to reality as it is in this moment. Face into what is happening in your lives with an “eyes wide open” attitude. This principle reminds me of how it feels when someone tells me an uncomfortable truth about myself. Initially, I may feel hurt, fear or anger. At the same time, I am also aware of a sense of relief and grateful acceptance for the clear acknowledgment of what’s true. Often, this attitude will provide me with an indication of a way forward or what may need to be done to make a change. In the case of a family member dealing with an addicted loved one, assuming an attitude of immediacy would mean noticing any way you are protecting yourself from the reality of your loved one’s addiction. This protection can take the form of not wanting to believe it is possible; having an unrealistic image of your loved one that prevents you from seeing his situation clearly; or not responding with appropriate limits to their negative behaviors. Even though it may be difficult and painful to face the truth, maintaining immediacy will reward you with inner strength and a greater sense of agency.
Inclusivity calls on you to include everything that arises in your awareness without judgment. This is a tall order and may seem impossible because it goes against all of your former conditioning. In its essence, it means meeting everything with compassion. For many years, I have thought that if I don’t feel guilty or bad about some attitude or behavior, it will never change. In recent years, I have begun to see that this works in the reverse. Feeling guilty or bad in fact keeps the unwanted pattern more firmly entrenched. Neuroscience corroborates this idea. The neural pathway created when we repeat the same emotional responses to something creates a channel of least resistance. It is why we repeat the same reactions over and over again. Developing a practice of compassion for yourselves and your loved one is powerful medicine for supporting a change in how you respond to your situation.
Limitlessness or a sense of possibility. One of the things that happens when I am up against a difficult emotional situation is my field of vision or possibility narrows. Most of my attention is taken up by my fear and concern. However, within you is an innate sense of possibility. It fuels your desire to change and grow. What promotes your awareness of limitlessness? How can you access it to enhance your creativity in dealing with challenging situations? One of the ways that I connect with possibility is by finding the potential in a situation that appears negative or fraught with limitation. For family members, encountering addiction, I am always pointing them to discover what they are learning or the gifts they are receiving. What greater purpose might addiction be serving? When you begin to look at your situation from this perspective, you can identify new attitudes and ways of responding that would never have occurred if you had not faced such a challenge. It is within the evolutionary nature of life that crisis brings opportunity. To adjust the lens of your seeing from limitation to possibility offers hope and provides a sense of purpose and meaning for the journey through addiction.
As you engage the qualities of Immediacy, Inclusivity and Limitlessness you will find new strength and direction for responding to your loved one’s addiction. Once learned, these attributes remain valuable assets for meeting any of life’s challenges.