By ‘Recovery’ I mean restoring and/or strengthening your Sense of Self. We are Recovering from the addiction to experiencing the Selfin an inadequate, fake kind of way by means of the Substitute Sense of Self which is from the emotional high of ‘feel good about Self.’
We are recovering from a subconsciously-operating psycho-emotional structure that took possession of us in early childhood when it functioned as a survival system because we were missing out on an authentically-instilled healthy Natural Sense of Self.
I use the word ‘Recovery’ rather than ‘healing’ because I consider ‘the disease of lacking a healthy Sense of Self’ to be the precursor for many sorts of dependencies, compulsions, and addictions, and the field of Addiction Treatment uses the word.
Addiction Specialists have not been able to answer the question of why addiction happens to some people and not to others . I have found a strong indication that addictions and compulsions can be a direct result of a Lack of Natural Sense of Self– so that would be my answer to ‘Why some and not others?’
If that’s so, then Restoring your Sense of Self is a prerequisite for Recovery from any addiction, especially for recovery from alcoholism and/or other drug addictions. In the Recovery secttion of this website, we address two aspects of Recovery which are easily confused. Dependency on a Substitute Sense of Self is the precursor for other addictions. Therefore, Recovery from the basic dependency is necessary in order for a full Recovery from secondary addictions.
Restoring your Sense of Self is a reconditioning process that may take from a few months to several years; it is never an overnight happening. But this process is absolutely necessary for being successful in freeing oneself from unwanted and self-destructive behaviors.
Addiction specialists distinguish five ‘stages of change,’ which include 1. Pre-contemplation 2. Contemplation 3. Preparation. 4. Action 5. Maintenance. You can find information on this subject in any good book about Addiction.
This sequence is valid also for recovering from the ‘disease of having a Lack of Sense of Self’, or – to say the same thing in different words – recovering from dependency on a SSoS. It is indeed a dependency just like any other addiction (despite being created in young children as Nature’s attempt to compensate for a wound, just like a scab) and I believe it lies at the basis of any other addiction.
In fact I would go so far as to state that if we experience a pull toward depending on something, it is indicative that we have no healthy Sense-of-Self. The need to fill the hole that exists at that point causes the dependency. It is a law of Nature’s to fill the ‘Black Hole‘ that has developed (subconsciously) when a young child is not getting the necessary ‘mirroring’. In order to fill this void a drive is created towards a substitute for what ought to be at the place of this hole: depending on a ‘feel good about self’ emotional high, which is in a continuous need to be repeated over and over again (addictive).
The dependency on a SSoS needs to be healed before being able to successfully recover from other addictions, and the way to do it is exactly the same.
If we apply here the 5 stages of change we get this workable sequence:
Once we have the beginning of a healthy Restored Sense of Self, we find that some of the changes we need to make to recover from Self-destructive habits take place almost automatically. These changes then are here to stay, because we have changed ourselves.
So, after having made a beginning with implementing a healthy Restored Sense of Self, we can begin to hope that we will be successful in recovering from other self-destructive behaviors. Doesn’t it make sense?
A person might be able to memorize a sequence of events to be followed for recovery from a substance or other addiction, but if the true basic reason for addiction (lack of healthy Sense of Self) isn’t addressed and healed, then everything done to improve one’s life is like a castle built on sand: one flood and it collapses. Taking the time and making the efforts needed to restore your Sense of Self are of utmost importance for permanently leaving the problems and pains associated with an unhealthy Sense of Self.
In this Theory, being dependent for your (Substitute) Sense of Self on the outcome of your actions and behavior is considered an addiction in and of itself. So please do read the books you can find about addiction because they are of great help. And do take the time to effectively restore your Sense of Self even if it takes a lot of time. Retraining so many behavioral habits is a time-consuming process.
If you completely integrate this aspect of your healing from addictions, problems, and pains, the odds of lasting change increase greatly.
For strong and effective guidelines to addiction recovery from addictions in general I recommend the literature available from the Washington State Alcohol and Drug Clearing House in Seattle, or from your local authority on this subject. For substance-abuse, which this Theory considers to be a ‘complication’ of the addiction to a Substitute-Sense-of-Self, you might also consider treatment in any of the better Addiction-Treatment Programs in the various Treatment Agencies listed on the internet. A book I regard as especially important and helpful is Relapse Prevention Book: Staying Sober, a guide for Relapse Prevention by Terence T. Gorski and Merlene Miller (1986).
So there are a lot of good resources out there about Recovery. What I am adding is the insight that for true and complete Recovery from any addiction, a necessary shift is needed, from a false kind of Self-experience to a real, adequate, and healthy one. In this Recovery section of this website you will find descriptions of the exercises and meditations I used for successfully making that shift.
The seed of this shift is actually, like any other change, implemented in your consciousness in a split second. The first awareness of the necessity and possibility of change is called ‘the Tipping Point’ (The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell, 2002). It is a crucial moment, even though at the time it might seem minor or even be overlooked. After that moment, time is needed to effectively let the motivation for Recovery to grow, and to implement the changes of the process.
In the Recovery process, the order in which you tackle things is important. To eliminate the unhealthy behavior of being dependent on a Substitute Sense of Self for a self-experience, you first need to have a healthy replacement operating. In other words, in order to be able to outgrow/replace the ‘feel good about self’ experience that functions as a Substitute Sense of Self, you need to have – at least partially in place – a healthier way of experiencing the Self.
I can’t stress enough that it is impossible to live in a vacuum, so the first thing to do is actively have a few tools available which build a more genuine, lasting Sense of Self, before any major change can take place. In other words we need to know where to find the ‘place’ within us called Self, and how to relate to it, before we can throw away our crutches (= addictive behaviors).
In the Recovery section you will find exercises and suggested meditations to enable you to get in touch with your ‘Self’ and to strengthen that relationship. You have to keep working on that until the new awareness of Self has replaced, deep down on the subconscious level, the old addictive ways of getting to the Substitute Self experience. That really means that these exercises have to become a lifestyle, just like a sobriety-based program.
The exercises are geared towards training your awareness into new habits of alternative, healthier ways of ‘Sensing the Self.’ The meditations are for exploring the territory and mapping the Self – finding landmarks and road signs on your path to a healthy Sense-of-Self.
In this Recovery section, we will refer back to the layers of Self (Link to Layer of Self) as explained in the Section on Sense-of-Self, to clarify what is going on in the process of ‘healing’ your compromised Self experience. I found a great program which was very supportive for my own ongoing Recovery process: The Silva Mind-Body Healing Method.
This system is based on 50 years of teaching various techniques of relaxation and visualization yet it has stayed up-to-date and in touch with the latest research on mind-body interaction. It greatly enhanced my process of laying a foundation for restoring a healthy Sense of my Self.
If there is enough interest, I will consider creating an online Course for Restoring a Sense-of-Self. Please let me know if you are interested by contacting me through this form.