Ice cream saved my life! It is not an exaggeration to say that. Without the comfort and oblivion provided by food, alcohol and drugs, I likely would have killed myself when I was a teenager. These are life and death levels of intensity that our cells remember. Our brains remember. The issue is not will power. We’re fighting against our whole survival instinct. To ramp up to protect yourself in a fight is a good thing if you need to. It’s just might be that you don’t need that the same way now. This is what you can notice when you’re doing inquiry and mindfulness practice.
Addictions help us take the edge off fear and protect us from feeling overwhelmed. If there wasn’t fear or threat, you wouldn’t be doing it. For some substances, abstinence is an important part of recovery and we still need to deal with the underlying anxiety. Depending on the addiction and your circumstances, it isn’t always helpful to pull the rug out from under your feet by abruptly removing or changing your strategy.
Look and see this mechanism at work. There’s something magical about seeing that. When you look, you realize you actually might not need to do that. To some extent, you could stop and be present with the fear and emotion. There’s so much association with the past when we really did need it, that our system has made it our automatic go-to response.
You see it and stop that process from happening in your daily life and you experience that you are safe without it. That is what makes it possible to continue to let go of these protective measures.