“What you resist persists; what you accept disappears.”
I don’t know where I found this Buddhist concept because I memorized the thought instead of the source. I doubt that Buddha would mind.
I memorized it because I had to. You see, all addictions are responses to unresolved emotions, feelings long buried in the subconscious mind.
When we bring those feelings into conscious awareness, we can let go of them. Then the need for whatever we are addicted simply floats away.
The hard part is accessing the source of the need.
I used to be addicted to cigarettes. I started smoking when I was a sophomore in college, one cigarette a night so I could sleep. The feelings that kept me awake were fear that I couldn’t keep up, “cut the mustard,” plus the ever-present need for approval. I was not aware of them at the time.
After three months of smoking one cigarette a day I was hooked. I wanted to breathe deeply more often than that. Inhaling the nicotine deeply gave me freedom from anxiety. I believed that it cleared my head and enhanced by ability to comprehend and to write.
When I finally accepted the fact that smoking was harmful to my health, I tried several ways to quit, unsuccessfully. “What you resist persists; what you accept disappears.”
I didn’t know at the time what to accept, but I did go to a hypnotist for help. He asked me if I really wanted to quit smoking. I answered, “Yes.”
He said, “Then give me your cigarettes.”
I’ll never forget that moment. He had me lie on a table hooked up to a bio-feedback machine that would ring a bell when I relaxed. Do you think I could ring that bell? No way!
Nevertheless, he put me in a light trance and made a tape of the session.
He taught me how to breathe deeply and had me say, “Smoking is harmful to my body. I need my body to live. I want to live.”
He gave me the tape and told me to listen to it every night for 21 days.
I was amazed to discover that quitting was not horrible. Instead, I felt truly free. I’ve since learned that my freedom came from releasing my anxiety through deep breathing. Every time I felt the need for a cigarette, I inhaled and exhaled air. In doing so I accepted my anxiety, and pretended I’d just finished a cigarette.
There are other addictions I have fought, other needs that took years to discover that I could satisfy much more simply than by eating peanuts. Had I not resisted those needs, I would not have gone to doctors who happily prescribed medication to cut my appetite.
I did not tell the doctors what my appetite was for. They didn’t ask. My appetite for approval could not be satisfied by peanuts or anything else until I approved of myself.
“What resists persists; what I accept disappears.” I accepted my childish need and no longer crave peanuts. The funniest novel I wrote is about a woman addicted to catalog shopping. (Called Gambling for Good Mail it comes out early 2006)
If you feel addicted to anything and want to release it, write about it fast.
Write about it with your non-dominant hand, too. You may be surprised at what your subconscious mind delivers through that hand.
Here’s to a free life!
Evelyn Cole, The Whole-mind Writer
P.S. If you find yourself resisting to uncovering those old feelings, accept your resistance and then let it go.
Copyright 2006 Cole’s Poetic License