Recovering from a Worry AddictionBy Emily Agnew
December 31, 2006
Are you a chronic worrier? Emily Agnew describes the unexpected gift you will receive when you use your Inner Bonding practice to confront this addiction.
When I started doing Inner Bonding and read about the concept of addictions, I'd flinch every time I saw that word. If I had an addiction, it meant I was an addict. And the word addict called up sordid images of crack houses, drunken binges, and needle marks - and a lot of harsh judgments. "I'm not an addict!" part of me protested. "I just worry a lot!"
Over time I conceded my worrying had an addictive quality. I'd say to myself, "At least I have an addiction that hasn't affected my life too much. Not like drugs or drinking or something." Is that so? Has it not affected my life? What about the anxiety, crippling at times, that has dogged me since childhood? What about the things I never did, because I was too scared, or the joy I never felt because I was so preoccupied, or the love I couldn't let in or out?
I began confronting this worry addiction in earnest, over a year ago. I had heard about how incredibly difficult it is to quit smoking, for example, but never having smoked, I assumed I couldn't really have any idea what a person might be going through, trying to quit. That has changed. I believe I do have an idea now, of what it is like. It is a seductive pull, an urge, a hook - and so subtle at times. The triggers are endless. You're into it before you know it, and the pull to stay in is powerful. And to worry, you don't even need to light anything up. You can't physically remove the source, because it's in your own head.
Webster's says being addicted means habituating or abandoning oneself to something compulsively or obsessively. When I worry, I abandon my core self, letting my wounded self run wild. I have had to be very honest with myself about the extent to which I do this. To begin to change this habit, I have worked steadily to develop a loving adult presence, and a strong connection to my inner spiritual guidance. I have also made time to be with the sadness that has come up as I look more honestly at the consequences, on me and others, of all this worrying. I have also made time to rest. It takes energy to change a habit of many years' duration.
I have received unexpected gifts from confronting this powerful worry addiction. As I've struggled to overcome it, I've noticed a new kind of compassion and self-respect growing in me. I see more understanding and compassion for the part of me that has worried so hard, for so long, in an effort to keep me safe. There is real respect for the tenacity, and will to survive, of that part. There is also respect for the part of me that has shown determination and resolve as I try to change this.
These are big gifts. But the biggest one, for me, is feeling my growing self-understanding, self-respect, and self-compassion flowing back out towards others who are facing their own addictive patterns. I've become more compassionate. I'm much less inclined than I used to be, to judge addictive behaviors in myself, or in any one else. I have respect and compassion for the daunting task many people face, of trying to develop a loving adult presence to overcome addictive patterns, without the support and resources I am fortunate to have.
I cherish this last gift the most, because my purest Self, my core essence, holds loving compassion above all other values. Being in judgment is a violation of the very essence of my Self. So this process of letting go of some of my judgments has been correspondingly joyful. I feel indescribable relief, coming more into alignment with my highest-held values.
If you see yourself acting addictively, be gentle with yourself. If you choose to make some attempt to change, be gentle. If you can't find it in you, be even more gentle. It is not an easy thing. As you go along, you can ask yourself, "What might it feel like, if I had compassion for myself at this moment?" Even if no compassion arises, the asking weaves a new thread into the fabric of your Loving Adult presence. Over time, you will experience the fruits of loving action and spiritual connection which are the gifts of Inner Bonding.
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Today, notice if your intent is to get love or approval from others or to give love to yourself and others. Trying to get love or approval will always end up causing suffering. Giving love to yourself and others brings joy.
By Dr. Margaret Paul