Addictions and Internal Power StrugglesBy Dr. Margaret Paul
March 15, 2010
Internal power struggles often impede addiction recovery: one inner part demanding to stop the addiction and another part resisting being controlled.
Do you have an inner authoritarian wounded part who tries to control your addictions with declarations and rules? Do you have a resistant wounded part who digs in it's heels? This creates an internal power struggle that immobilizes addiction recovery.
The authoritarian wounded self, believing it can have control by just laying down the law, sets rigid limits:
"Today I am starting on my new diet. I will only eat a prepared liquid food for breakfast and lunch and I will have a normal dinner."
"From now on, I'm cutting out sugar and junk foods."
"I'll start writing down everything I eat."
"No more drinking. It's ruining my marriage and it's time to stop. I'm just not going to drink anymore."
"I'm finished with these drugs. I'm flushing them down the toilet and never buying anymore."
"This is my last cigarette."
"No more coffee. This is killing me."
"No more spending. We're going to cut up the credit cards and start to save money."
"I'm done with gambling - never again."
What generally happens when you set rules like this? Often, as soon as the authoritarian wounded self moves in to control, the resistant, indulgent wounded self takes over and resists:
"You can't tell me what to do. I can eat whatever I want."
"One drink won't hurt. We'll stop tomorrow."
"Go ahead and flush down the drugs. I can get them again whenever I want."
"I'm the boss of me. I don't have to do what you say. I like to smoke."
"I can't work without my coffee. We'll start cutting down on the weekend."
"I really do need some new clothes. I can't go to work looking like this."
"Gambling gives me the rush I need. You can't take it away from me."
An internal power struggle gets set up: one part of you is saying "Don't eat," while the other part of you is grabbing food, saying "Don't tell me what to do." Or one part is saying, "No more alcohol," and the other part is saying "I really need a drink." Or one part is saying "Smoking is going to kill us," and the other part is saying "I don't care. Life is not worth it if I can't smoke."
The problem with these controlling decisions is that the authoritarian wounded self does not have the power to carry them out for long. You may be able to follow through for a few days or even for a few weeks, but without a disciplined loving adult self who wants to take responsibility for your feelings and whose power comes through you from your higher self, the permissive, indulgent, resistant wounded self takes over and you find yourself bingeing or eating junk, drinking, using drugs, smoking, or spending once again.
The authoritarian wounded self tries to have will power by setting rigid inner boundaries, but will power does not come from the wounded self. The will is within the loving adult, and the power comes from your Higher Guidance. Will power really means using your will to bring through the power of your Higher Power.
Your wounded self may have a set of false beliefs that govern your behavior regarding substance abuse and process addictions.
The authoritarian wounded self often believes that:
"I have power. I can control what and how much I eat, drink, smoke cigarettes, smoke grass, snort coke, gamble, and so on. I can do this by myself without help." (With anorexia, the wounded self actually does manage to control eating, but the consequences of this are deeply wounding and even life-threatening to oneself).
The permissive, indulgent, resistant wounded self often believes that:
"I am nurturing myself and rewarding myself when I eat whatever I want, drink whenever I want, use drugs whenever I want, or watch TV whenever I want."
"I can avoid my pain by numbing out with substances or processes." (Addictions do work to numb out the pain for the moment but in the long run causes more pain as it erodes self-esteem and health.)
"The only way I can be my own person is to resist what someone else wants from me, even if I am resisting myself."
These false beliefs come into constant conflict with each other as the inner power struggle goes around and around.
Permanent recovery is the result of practicing Inner Bonding and developing your spiritually-connected loving adult self, who has learned to lovingly manage your feelings rather than avoid them with addictions.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
Learn to connect with your spiritual Guidance with "Frequency: Your Spiritual Guidance & The Art of Manifestation" A 30-Day at-home Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul.
Join IBVillage and receive compassionate help and support for your healing journey.
Photo by Scott Webb.
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When being loving, we are not grasping, demanding, needy or clingy, because love has nothing to do with getting or taking. We give freely, to ourselves and to others. We also receive graciously when the gift is freely given. When being unloving, we may try to manipulate a gift - whether it be of time, money, attention, emotional support, approval, sex or affection - but when we are loving we know that a gift not freely given is not really a gift. Notice when you are being loving or unloving.
By Dr. Margaret Paul