A recent podcast on this topic.
We all have a little of the Addict archetype in us. It would be hard not to in a capitalist society whose sole purpose is to manufacture need and desire. I know when I say addict, you are thinking of your alcoholic uncle or some using crack who can’t function without their drug of choice. But I’m talking about the Addict as an archetype, and everyone has a little bit in them.
How many times have you checked your phone today? Facebook? What about binge-watching Netflix? Have you ever found yourself hitting the ‘play next’ button because you didn’t want to wait the few seconds for it to happen naturally? Have you ever called shopping your retail therapy? Or headed for the ice cream after a particularly emotional day? You see the Addict can be as obvious as the junky getting high under the bridge or as insidious as revisiting your Instagram post every time it pings.
Carl Jung described archetypes as universal patterns of behavior that are embedded in our collective unconscious. These models or ‘inherited potentials’ become activated through interactions and experiences. Most of our movies and contemporary literature are shaped after the plight and triumphs of the Hero. Most of our personal tragedies are processed at some point by our Victim. In our collective experience, we witness the Villains, the Bullies, and even a few with a Messiah complex. I won’t mention any names.
It’s worth noting that not all engagements with substances or activities are unbalanced. If you go to a bar and have a couple of drinks to shoot the shit with a friend, that isn’t necessarily the Addict’s work. It is the attachment or the need/desire of something that is used to alter your current experience. If you take a breath and think about it, you know the difference.
The Addict’s desire has a palpable feel to it, and there is noticeable relief once we indulge.
My Addict has had different afflictions over the years; some have passed, and some are still at the forefront of my experience. But regardless of the vice of choice, my Addict still holds some sway, though less and less as I figure out what makes her tick.
I realized that my Addict had two main functions in my life. The first being to disrupt order. My Addict thrives in chaos and actively tries to recruit people to join me in it. And trust me, she is pretty convincing. But as I went down this rabbit hole, I realized that employing chaos was just a ruse for the real mission. And that mission was to protect my Victim. It is no secret that people use vices as a means of distraction or escape from despair, trauma, or stress. Humans are uncomfortable being uncomfortable, and the Addict is an expert at distraction. But my Addict, though good at distraction, was really about keeping me small.
I found in my coaching work that people either feared success or feared failure, and the root cause was really the same. They had a desire to stay small. The masculine perversion of this is to remain small so that one stays unnoticed, and there will be no damage to the ego. If you don’t try, you can’t fail or succeed, and either way, there will be no scrutiny and no criticism. The feminine perversion stays small and seeks enablers to join her pity party. This isn’t an either-or proposition, sometimes we have perversions of both. My Addict wanted everyone to hang out in the chaos, so none of us needed to try. And also wished to promote inconsistency and non-commitment to ensure my Big Self didn’t draw any unnecessary attention. Whatever the strategy, my Addict remained the humble servant of my Victim.
The fun thing about archetypes is that they aren’t all bad. There are empowered versions of them too. Once we reach into our subconscious and explore how they show up and impact our lives, they move from the shadows into the light. They have the opportunity to reach their inherent potential. We gain conscious choice and choice is powerful. The empowered Addict also brings with it a deep sense of compassion. Especially once we acknowledge that its primary mission is protection. We’ve all experienced suffering and trauma at the hands of someone else. We all know what it feels like to want to distract or escape from our pain.
We all make mistakes.
The light side of our Addict knows this and can show support and compassion for those that are struggling.
So the next question for me was, if the Addict protects my Victim, then how do I heal it? When I sat with this question in meditation, the message was simple. Stop protecting it. The only way for my Victim to become healthy and strong was to incrementally put myself out there. To sit with the uncomfortable feelings of scrutiny and potential critique and let it be. And when the sense of ‘not-enoughness’ shows up, I acknowledge it and surrender.
I let in and let go.
And when I feel the itchy energy of my Addict arising wanting to distract or dissuade, I use the tools I have, namely meditation and exercise, to transmute that energy. Those are the jewels of my Victim in her empowered state. She knows how to set healthy boundaries, has tools to deal with difficult feelings, and can re-write her story, so it serves my highest and best self.
So I will keep my focus and intention on consistency and commitment to those things that serve my Big, and best self. I chose those words because they seem to be the opposite intention of my disempowered Addict and Victim. I know I still have work to do. I just binged watched the entire season of 13 Reasons Why before I got around to writing this post. Clearly, I’m still a work in progress. But I’ll continue to do my best and use compassion when I don’t.
Who does your Addict serve? And what are they afraid of?
In today’s episode, we look at questions of relevance, identity and re-visiting old ways of being. Is it possible to ever go home again? What are we really looking for?
In This Episode:
- Divine Spectacle:
- We play with the idea of returning to an old way of being.
- We look at how our feelings of irrelevance and the opportunity for a certain outcome might be at play.
- The Sacred Mind:
- We explore the Buddhist’s view of impermanence and the static self as the key to our suffering and desire to return ‘home’.
- We look at the Toltec view of self-importance and why our relevance does not matter in the first place.
- The great paradox where everything is meaningful and meaningless and how we reconcile these two truths.
- It’s Worth Your Time:
- Meghan Daum’s book: The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars
- This book gives a GenXer’s perspective on the current climate of identity politics, feminism, victimhood, and the cancel culture.
- She assists the reader in not only understanding the generational divide but helps people have more compassion for ourselves and others as we navigate our own questions of relevance.
What are the ways that we diminish the personal sovereignty of others? How do we diminish our own? Join us as we explore multiple perspectives on what it means to be sovereign and how this might be the lynchpin of our personal evolution.
In This Podcast:
- Divine Spectacle Segment
- We explore the two ways we give up our sovereignty, either by diminishing another’s or diminishing our own.
- Looking at why taking pity on someone gives them an added obstacle to overcome and without all the information may unnecessarily make them a victim.
- Sacred Mind
- We explore the power of conscious choice as the true path of our awakening.
- How the question: What do I choose now? can be a powerful perspective in any challenge.
- It’s Worth Your Time
- We look at Jordan Greenhall’s framework for sovereignty that he talks about on the podcast Neurohacker Collective. He defines sovereignty as your capacity to be an effective agent in the world. And he outlines 4 components that allow you to enhance this capacity.
The tragedy of life is in what dies inside a man while he lives – the death of genuine feeling, the death of inspired response, the awareness that makes it possible to feel the pain or the glory of other men in yourself. ~Norman Cousins
I woke up this morning to the #ThingsWeShouldCancel hashtag trending on Twitter. I know that this hashtag was started with levity in mind and not with the usual manufactured outrage that underpins the cancel culture. But the idea of canceling anything is troubling to me. Humans are complex beings who are facing complex challenges. But the cancel culture requires that we shove people into boxes, flattening them down into one-dimensional characters the can be easily judged and dismissed.
I tried hard not to use the term nuance because along with the words foment and tropes, it has been used so often it’s becoming noise. But it really is nuance that I am talking about. A person or position can rarely be fleshed out in an era of soundbites and social media. I’ve written before about my fear that we aren’t allowing people to be whole humans anymore. A whole human can be messy, irrational, contradictory, but mostly redeeming if we see them in their totality. We should resist the temptation to oversimplify something inherently complex.
Cancel Culture is Lazy
We, unfortunately, don’t just get to skip to the good parts without doing the work. Not as individuals and certainly not as a society. Besides, there are many differing views on what is ‘good’ anyway. Cancel culture is lazy and reactionary. In a time where we have social media celebrities and influencers with ambiguous societal value, we’ve lost sight of what real change requires (and maybe what the real world is like). Bans, boycotts, cancels provide a short-lived opportunity to gain social currency but don’t catalyze any long term change. People can briefly feel good about themselves while sitting behind a screen. A call-out or cancel lacks the foundation and thoughtfulness needed to avoid unintended consequences. Because we find someone’s thoughts or political leanings offensive doesn’t just mean we cancel them and it goes away. It festers and frankly, recruits. A well-organized rebuttal or in-depth discussion does more for shifting the landscape than a call-out. I think the antidote to talk we don’t like, is more talking rather than canceling.
Inner Work Required
Cancel culture also speaks to a lack of self-awareness and willingness to do some inner excavation. In the spiritual community, we have a name for this type of defense mechanism – spiritual bypassing. It’s when people want to go directly to the love and light without doing the inner work. This way, the person is spared from having to feel any negative ‘vibes’ or emotions. Instead, I think when we are faced with something we are opposed to, it is the perfect time to look at one’s own shit. What are we afraid of? What do we value? Why is someone with a different worldview so threatening?
Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. ~Rumi
The offense or anger that we feel is really a signal of healing to be done. Yes, there are times when being offended is justified, but then our focus should be on dealing with the root causes and supporting real change. People don’t like to hear this because we hold our feelings in such high esteem that we think they should be protected at all cost. Instead of seeing emotions for what they are. They are data points. They are spikes on a graph that warrant introspection rather than protection. They are the messages from our wounds.
Reclaiming Your Power
This isn’t about blaming the victim it is about putting yourself in charge of your own well-being. Not every slight or rude comment or dissenting opinion should be allowed to interfere with your contentment . And if it does, then the story that frames those feelings should be addressed. That’s where the inner work can become so powerful. The more we heal the stories and emotional trauma within ourselves, the more untouchable we become. We don’t become untouchable by never being touched. We get there by facing adversity and using those challenges to understand who we are and how we show up in the world. Sometimes people are just douche bags and don’t deserve our time, energy, or resources. Please understand, I am not talking about real crime, abuse, or neglect. I’m talking about canceling something because it upsets you or doesn’t fit into your worldview. We can learn more about ourselves listening to contrary ideas than we can in an echo chamber.
So I hope that we can move past our screen warrior mentalities and opt for real-world change. While we may be justified in some of our anger, we don’t move past it as a society by avoiding the people or ideas we disagree with. There will always be bad actors with bad ideas, but we challenge those ideas with better ones. That is the only way we really heal. First we look within and then we look without.
Listen in to the Chaos & Light Podcast as we explore cancel culture further from the perspective of freedom and liberation.