How to Free Yourself of Addictions
“Why Purpose and Discipline Promote Psychological Well-Being” might not at first sound like the kind of clip that will help free you from addictions, but this Academy of Ideas offering does just that. And it only takes seven minutes to boot!
The help yourself tutorial begins by railing against freedom. Well, railing against having too much of it anyway. Why? Because when we’re in a position to do absolutely anything, we’re much more likely to end up doing nothing.
It’s not a new argument. In fact, the premise dates back to The I Ching, and that book’s been guiding lives for at least 3000 years.
“Unlimited possibilities are not suited to man;” goes the ancient Chinese text, “if they existed, his life would only dissolve in the boundless. To become strong, a man’s life needs the limitations ordained by duty and voluntarily accepted. The individual attains significance as a free spirit only by surrounding himself with these limitations and by determining for himself what his duty is.”
Real freedom comes, says the Academy, once “we recognize our weaknesses and bad habits and exercise our autonomy in pursuit of a better life. [Unfortunately], this form of freedom is all too absent today. Addictions, compulsions, neuroses, and other self-sabotaging behaviors keep many of us locked in mental prisons and hinder our ability to flourish.”
That’s right. The drink or the drug we succumb to in order “to escape our faulty ways of being” only make matters much worse. Then, you knew that already, didn’t you?
Address Your Addictions — Head On
“What ails you and me has nothing to do with being sick,” says Pressfield. “What ails us is that we are living our lives as amateurs. The solution is that we turn pro.”
As you might suspect, turning pro means ditching the distractions and instead cultivating the habits and skills needed to excel in your work, whatever it may be.
The amateur seeks relief from the pain of life primarily through addictions and the pursuit of pleasures, insists Pressfield. The pro, on the other hand, strives to rise above his suffering through labor and love.
“Many of us will only find a cure for what ails us if we can regain control of our life and begin moving in a direction that permits us to enjoy the life-affirming experience associated with personal growth. And the best way to do that is to commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in a self-chosen field.”
In other words, you find your purpose; then you work at it. Hard.
What Turning Pro Entails
Turning pro can be applied to anything. Taking on a dream job, building a home, earning a degree. It can be in the arts or the sciences or sports or business or politics or nature or any one of a hundred different fields. Whatever it is, it must be a calling. Something that you can wholly believe in — or else. Because while the rewards will be significant, the effort ain’t gonna be easy.
“When we turn pro, we give up a life that we may have become extremely comfortable with. We give up a self that we have come to identify with and to call our own.”
The key is not to procrastinate. Or at least to stop procrastinating. To step up to the plate while the pitcher’s on the mound and the game is in play.
“We tell ourself we will turn pro when we find ourselves, or when we have overcome our anxiety, depression or addictions. Yet this tactic is based on a psychological error. Turning pro isn’t something we do once we’ve cured our problems or found out who we are; rather turning pro is the cure. It is the means by which we become who we are.”
Turning pro enables us to “find our power,” writes Pressfield. “We find our will and our voice and our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until now, been afraid to embrace and to live out.”
And yes, turning pro demands all due diligence — and then some. You can’t take your foot off the proverbial pedal, even for a minute. A condition 12 Steppers know all too well.
“Turning pro is like kicking a drug habit or stopping drinking,” writes Pressfield. “It’s a decision, a decision to which we must recommit every day.”
The Path to Serenity
This being the Academy of Ideas and the Academy of Ideas being about the most well-rounded explainer/thinkers on the interwebs, the visual essay ends how it began — with some ancient Chinese wisdom. If it’s good enough for them, well…
Chase after money and security
And your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
And you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.
Tao Te Ching
If you or someone you love is suffering from drug or alcohol abuse please give Healing Properties a call. We’d very much like to help.