Samsara and the Heart of Compassion — being alive means confronting the whole of life, preferably from a place of compassion
In This Moment
Here it is, May! Now more into the Green Season here in Costa Rica.
So, even when travelling I’m doing counselling. On skype (and when that’s down, on google.) I’ve been having some interesting discussions around addiction.
Not what you think
I usually just say what comes to mind as I talk, as opposed to having some strategy. One client, a while back was talking about how often she slid into huge dramas. I said, “You’re addicted to drama, like an alcoholic is to drinking.” Given her family history, that hit home.
Yesterday, we talked about addiction to pain
This one forked into two directions, emotional pain as an addiction, and to BDSM
No, really. This is my life.
The lure of the dramatic
The point I was making is that we are drawn… pulled… in directions we say we do not want to walk, and yet, there we are. We blame externals — other people, situations, etc. But take a look.
The people and things you wind yourself up over seem to have little or no effect on others. Or conversely, the things others wind themselves up over seem silly to you.
If you are wise, you immediately realize that externals are not causal. In other words, this “situation” does not have a single result. It has one result per “inter-actor.”
Biologically, we are drawn principally to either flight or fight.
In other words, as we experience situations, we are pulled, chemically, to run toward, or run away. Secondarily, and also matching, are pleasure sensors / chemicals. So, we are pulled toward what turns us on. All of this tends to work OK, and it keeps us from being eaten by tigers.
As I wrote in the article about Boston, we see this chemical response in action, as most civilians moved away, and some ran toward the explosions.
The unique reaction is that of the professionals — soldiers, firefighters, cops, etc. You can see some of them flinching and moving perhaps one step away. And then you see the magic.
They stop, they breathe, and they turn toward, and move into danger.
Mind, overcoming chemistry.
Thus, my line about, for example, drama. Drama is always the result of thinking that I have the right to impose my will on others. Chemically, I become addicted to my self-righteousness. I puff out my chest, and demand that others behave as I want them to.
Here’s the odd part: it doesn’t matter what others do!
I’m addicted to the rush of the chemical feeling that comes from thinking I am a superior being. As a matter of fact, the worst thing in the world would be for everyone to instantly agree with me, and do as I said.
Drama making is not about changing others or the situation. It’s about creating internal charge. The more addicted you are, the more you do it. Just like an addict.
“Drama people” will tell you they are working on it, but mostly follow that with excuses for why, this time, they need another dose. Just like druggies.
And it is the same for any repeated behaviour that you recognize is harmful. Just like NA is the same as AA, except for the thing that is the addiction.
A word about pain addictions
My client is starting to make the connection about the rush she feels when something goes wrong. Mostly, relationships. There is something big and dramatic about being dumped, for example, or being in a dysfunctional relationship for months beyond its “best before” date.
Pain, beautiful pain
I told her the story about how my mom had a burning passion to be the sickest person in the room. She leaned this by being actually sick, and getting tons of attention. Until she died, she spoke of her illnesses in superlatives, and always with a slight smile.
I talked with my client about pain, “feeling hard-done-by,” staying in bad relationships, as “Sort of like a pain orgasm.”
And thus, the slide over to BDSM, as an alternative.
My point here, which I’ll expand on next time, is that our conditioning takes what we have experienced, and hard wires it in. It’s why habits are hard to break. And it’s not just wiring. It’s the pleasure chemicals that trigger… it feels good to be bad.
We encourage self-exploration and self-expression, plus a change of behaviour.
In Bodywork, we look for sounds to come out. Anger and sadness to come out. To be safely enacted. Then, we look for sensuality and sexuality to find expression. All within the confines of a safe and soft environment.
Let it go, then ask for what you DO want
Clients say, “It feels so good to just let go! To feel, to express, to ask for what my body needs, and to know you will stay right there and help.”
My client realizes, now, how she creates dysfunctional relationships in order to feel the sexual charge of pain. Her insight is that she could also create the same sense of pain / charge in other ways.
I don’t think so. I think each of us needs to explore what we are setting up to get our needs met, and to figure out ways to deal with what we need, without creating drama, using manipulation. We could just cut to the chase and ask for what we actually want.
Look again at the top photo, of the adult and kid. Both are sitting comfortably. The kid’s spine is straight. The woman is twisted and non-level. I see that a lot. It’s about blocked passion. On the beaches of Costa Rica, most people, clearly, are “twisted.”
In coming articles, I’ll write a bit about how to learn to let go of the need to play games, and how to find people to work this through with.
First hint: it involves asking!