One of the basic principles of the liberal culture we live in is freedom. However, there are more slaves than in any time period. When our happiness, our well-being depends on something outside of us, we become imprisoned by that thing.
Our desires enslave us.
Take for example a smoker. I had many friends that had this vice. I observed that they tend to smoke more when they are stressed. From time to time it happened that they would run out of cigars so instead of calming down they would get more agitated. Their state depends on something outside of them, something that they could not control (if they had or not cigarets).
True freedom is not the satisfaction of all desires but a state of lack of desire.
We can be: habitual addicts or emotional addicts.
We all have a split personality. The first persona is instinctual, habitual, visceral. It is our first innate response to what happens. Let’s say someone calls you names, the first answer is to reciprocate the behaviour.
This response is rooted in our subconscious, in our learned patterns from our personal experience, parents or society. Most of the time we don’t identify with that part of us and ask ourselves later: “What was I thinking?”.
The second persona is more “rational”, closer to the way we desire to be. It is the one that doesn’t reply back to the swearing thinking: “Why bother? He’s the one having a problem, not me”. The manifestation of this one requires “active participation”, being present.
Our lives are not made out of big, grandiose events but are composed of the small activities we do daily. We are the sum of our habits. However most of the day “we run on automated pilot”- the first personality. We are never fully aware, conscious (as the second persona) because we are either caught in the past or thinking about the future, but never in the present.
We are the sum of our habits
If you are a habitual addict and want to escape this state, you have to be present. To bring clarity to your mind, and educate it not to wander aimlessly. Stop listening to the sounds around you from time to time, admire the colours of the flowers, look at the sky. Meditate. Set reminders on your phone that ask: “Are you present?”. Be present when drinking your coffee, do you really want to smoke? Before eating a snack are you hungry or bored?
When you feel empty you start trying to fill the vacuum with objects, relationships, alcohol, drugs, just so the pain will go away. All those are quick fixes and don’t last. That agony is produced not by lack of tobacco but by lack of love. Accepting oneself and the world with its flaws and imperfections is the first step in the way out of this state,
Lack of love for the self can make you look for it outside, in a relationship for example. You will cling to that other person, becoming obsessed with it because it makes you feel good. And for a period you might feel fulfiled but in the long run, the emptiness will be back. The problem and the solutions are both inside you.
Lack of love can also be manifested as anxiety. If you feel like failing life, not being good enough, alcohol can make you forget about it. Make it all go away. You won’t feel pain because you’ll be numb. If you want to get away you must strengthen yourself up, have the courage to look into yourself, identify the would and have the braveness to heal it.
The principles I described earlier apply to any situations when we use quick fixes such as: sex, food, clothes etc in order not to have to face our real issues: lack of self-esteem, anxiety, fear of rejection, need for attention etc.
Once you solve those deeper issues you won’t need the quick fix.
Wrapping up what we discussed. Think about your desires, are they habitual or emotional? Do you have to be more present or do you need to heal a deeper wound?