Addictions at some level develop because we have initially associated a pleasant experience with an activity and then as we repeat it, we are somewhere hoping to re-experience that what gave us joy or satisfaction!! Of course, after a while (which for some extremely addictive substances can be just one use)… the physical memory takes over and this is how chemical based addictions happen!!
Also, we do know that a substance or behavior can easily be addictive for one person and not for someone else!! Since addictions are mainly based of memory (mental, emotional or physical) … a person’s karmic tendencies will play a huge role in how easily a particular person will succumb to addictions!
Please note that substance abuse is a serious and possibly a life-threatening problem. So, if you or someone you know are under the influence of chemical substances then please ensure that you contact appropriate counsellor for medical help. This article is looking at addressing addictive behavior patterns from a self-development perspective.
There is a way that you can start to address such simple- habit-driven addictions. What is needed for it to be successful is:
- one- for you to take accountability for what you do… you cannot blame your actions on anyone
- and two- you have to utilize the power of your intellect called Budhhi in Sanskrit to truly evaluate your actions and its consequences with a complete true, authentic and unbiased way…
- and then finally the power of your mind- which when controlled and channels in a proper way is known to work miracles!!
So how can you deal with addictive habits and behavioral patterns??
In the Vedic culture, it is called Sankalp (also called as Sankalpa). It is a kind of firm, un-bending and un-wavering decision that you make. For e.g. you say to yourself- “today I am taking the Sankalp that I will quit smoking and then that’s it.”
But for many others, it is possible that they may falter. Take a drag here or there with their old smoking buddies. But, what “Sankalp” fundamentally changes is that- when you take that one drag, you don’t say- “oh, I should not have. Now, I feel bad…”, you don’t get caught in the negative cycle of guilt, anger (usually at oneself), self-loathing and then more of that same negative habit!!
You don’t do that at all!! Instead, you simply acknowledge the action for what it is- not condone (agree) to it… but acknowledge it. After all it is happening- you are taking that drag, so what is the point of negating it.
If you are taking that drag, then ‘it just is”!! BUT then, instead of the negative cycle, you evaluate what led to it and how you can change the situation. How you can prevent it from happening again??
Maybe you met your old smoking buddies and that somewhere tempted you to take that drag. So, next time if you want to hang out with these folks- either you meet with them separately (so you don’t get caught in group-memories and habits) and also when that one individual is not going to smoke and so on- this way there are more chances that you will not feel ‘dragged back’ (no pun intended)!!
Now, I totally understand and recognize that addictions are a huge problem and I do not mean to lighten the issue by suggesting that there is a simple way in which everyone can get address all kinds of addictions!! Not at all…
What I want to highlight here, is the power of “Sankalp”. When we make that un-bending, un-wavering decision for whatever it is that we want- it can be success, it can be breaking a bad habit or it can simply be continuing on the spiritual path, once we make a Sankalp about it, then instead of getting caught in negative spirals when you do an action against your Sankalp, you start to actively evaluate the issue and then start addressing all such issues that somewhere stop you from achieving what you want…
Now depending on how strong your addiction is and how much you are mired in it, you maybe able to address this on your own or with the help of a counsellor. This is why counselling and other such therapies tend to help so much with addictions.
They help somewhere to allow some distancing between a certain behavioral pattern and the person, so that the person can slowly start utilizing his or her internal strength to ultimately break free of the bad habit!
But ultimately even taking help of a counsellor, deciding that I do not want to be addicted anymore and I want to break free of this repetitive behavior still can be aided with the power of Sankalp, where you make that firm, unwavering decision for your own betterment.