by Paul Garrigan
Self-Compassion is the Solution
It is our inability to deal with life that makes alcohol or drugs such an attractive proposition. This means unless we develop a better strategy for managing the challenges that come our way, the temptation to return to substance abuse is always going to remain. Self-compassion is the solution.
Here are 5 of the ways self-compassion will help you stay free of addiction:
1. Self-Compassion Means We Stop Running
It is the urge to escape anything we perceive as unpleasant that drives addictive behavior. The idea ‘I shouldn’t be feeling this way’ means we look for ways to alter the way we feel and alcohol or drugs is the most obvious answer.
Self-compassion gives us the courage to face life. The amazing thing is when we do this, we
usually always find those things we were running from aren’t as unbearable as our thoughts have been suggesting – we have been lied to. It is the act of running away from our life that is the source of most of our misery, so when we learn to stay still, things greatly improve for us.
2. Self-Compassion Gives Us the Ability to Self-Soothe
When we turn towards our pain, we are then in the position to offer ourselves comfort. The Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh refers to this as responding to our crying babies. If we hear our baby crying, running away will allow us to temporarily escape the commotion, but it is not something you will find recommended in many parenting books. We need to tend to our own discomfort as we would our baby’s cry. Most of the time, just being with our suffering is all that is needed to bring comfort and release.
3. Self-Compassion is How We Become Low-Maintenance People
I refer to those of us who end up in rehab as ‘high-maintenance people’. What I mean by this is that most of our attention needs to be directed towards our own welfare just so we stay can functioning. This self-obsession that makes us hard to be around, and it is the source of much of our suffering.
We become high maintenance people because we so easily overwhelmed by problems – it can almost be like we become allergic to the ups and downs of life. By developing self-compassion, we much more easily deal with problems as we steadily move towards becoming low-maintenance people.
4. Self-Compassion Improves Our Relationships
Our inability to face our own challenges makes us incapable of dealing with other people’s stuff. If our response to things going wrong is to get drunk or high, the advice and support we offer to others who are suffering is unlikely to be of much value. This lack of empathy can destroy our relationships.
As we develop self-compassion, we also start to truly appreciate the challenges other people are facing. This encourages us to develop kindness and compassion -these are two of the most attractive personality traits and are the source of true happiness. The fact that we now ‘get’ other people is going to greatly improve our relationships and our sense of connection with the world.
5. Self-Compassion is How We Become Comfortable in Our Own Skin
We may never be able to provide the definitive explanation for why we fell into addiction, but one of the most commonly cited contributing factors is ‘not feeling comfortable in my own skin’. Self-compassion gives us the ability to stay with whatever is happening in our body – it also means we no longer feel alienated from our mind, our body, or the world. We become comfortable in our own skin at last.
5 Ways Self-Compassion Helps Us Stay Free of Addiction by Paul G