image credit: eugenio recuenco
Pat has been smoking a pack of cigarettes each day for many years and now wants to quit having come to believe that addiction to any mind altering substance is harmful to himself and ultimately to his family and society. However, he is likely to have a very elaborate and well-rehearsed 'I am a smoker' or 'I am an addict' self-schema. This self-schema will include complex cognitive scripts and behavioral action sequences that lead to highly automated cigarette smoking. Even with the help of nicotine-replacement therapy, he may find that he still craves cigarettes and is unable to stop smoking. His inability to stop is not because he is weak-willed. On the contrary, his 'I am a smoker' self-schema has become connected to so many cognitive, emotional, and physiological links in his schematic self-system that almost anything can trigger the automated smoking behavior. Desperately wanting to stop smoking, Pat reaches for a cigarette, wondering why he is lighting it, and telling himself "I'm a smoker, that's just who I am, no use fighting it."
this is so very common i think. when i was in the throes of using i was mostly miserable. calculating and fearful and miserable. and i didn't have a clue that things would get any better. i thought everyone was miserable et al. this is a part of recovery that takes some work. to regain hope and connect to that part of the emotional body.
i facilitate a group using the Spiritual Self Schema curriculum. it is probably my favorite of all groups that i do. partially because we meditate as part of the group and i get to witness everyone in silence for awhile. if you know people with substance use issues at all, you will understand how silence is truly golden. but more importantly, the process offers people a chance to look at themselves differently. differently perhaps than they do, their probation officers, their spouses and families, and their peers see them. i believe it can truly be life changing. they can see themselves with love.
this mask that we put forward for others to see is learned behavior. it seems to be attached to our core, but it is really something we have trained ourselves to use after years of practice. the belief in 3S therapy is that beneath these masks we wear lies the spiritual self, the true self, the self that is love and understanding with no attachment to fear, and that just as we learn to use other masks, we can learn to access our spiritual self and operate our lives from that vantage point. we can learn to start to truly love ourselves.
and a very kind thank you to jim pickett for posting a blurb about UB2 at lifelube. i love that site..