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  • Writer's pictureHelen Tyrrell

What's the spirit behind your addictions?

After getting back from holiday last week, I found myself courting all too familiar displacement behaviours, ones that kept me from getting on with my work. These were interspersed, I should add, with low level panic at not getting enough done! The common or garden types of addictions were showing up in me, no doubt because I wanted to cling on to holiday mode, when, clearly, I was back!

I’m being flippant, of course, but all this got me to thinking about my various addictions - and how, why and when they show up. What purpose do they serve? Do they soothe or stimulate? Do they numb? Do they signal party time or down time, or both?

This all bears deeper engagement.

Like symptoms and dreams, addictions are a rich source of information which we can choose to explore. Arnold Mindell’s little book ‘Working on Yourself Alone’ helps explain the creative force in the things that disturb or disrupt us, including our own behaviours and habits.

If your main mode of being (or 'primary process') is to value hard work, discipline, and achievement, your secondary mode or 'process’ will probably tend to undermine it, with disruption, distractions and temptations - including your own addictions.

The usual response to this is frustration, fear (my low level panic in paragraph 1), resolve to stamp it out, followed by more frustration if you don't succeed. It can become quite a cycle.

More helpful and interesting is to explore the various processes at work, the spirit behind them and what they each have to say. For example if my primary process is to value hard work and discipline, there might be a highly rigid spirit at work in me, wanting an assured outcome and certainty for the future along conventional lines.

On the other hand, the spirit dissolving that -my 'secondary process' might be asking for a more fluid and gentle approach – one that doesn’t have a rigid outcome in mind, but is more interested in a creative one. One that doesn’t take everything so heavily.

Because of the incredible strength of the rigid spirit, the secondary process has to come on strong to even get a look in. Cue disturbance!

In exploring the essence and nature of both processes, I am able to ask myself, 'how can I bring a bit of fluidity and gentleness to my hard work?' and 'How might that be creative for me?' With these questions, I find I change. My primary process lightens up a little and I experience relief, too, from my secondary process as a disturbance. I find a creative new way forward that values both processes.

If any of these themes resonates with you and you'd like to explore the creative spirit behind your own addictions with some support from me, give me a call! Who knows what you might discover!

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