Apr 132015

They could be poor burglars stealing from individuals; extremely rich and powerful people stealing from entire countries; or anything in between. If they get caught, they may or may not be punished – depending on their financial abilities and connections – but regardless, their behavior is not acceptable by society at large and generally honest people prefer not to be associated with them.

Generally speaking, society considers such behavior as antisocial, and it is not difficult to feel anger towards such people, especially by those who need to work very hard to support themselves and their families. That makes perfect sense. People feel: “If I can contribute my time and hard work to benefit both society and myself, why shouldn’t everyone?”. It’s not difficult to understand such feelings.

This however, assumes that in essence “they” are just like “us”. But are they?

One is incapable of hurting anyone, in any way, unless they hurt and suffer themselves.

Some of those people who take from others, may feel that it is wrong and judge themselves as wrongdoers. At the same time they continue with theft and are unable to stop, just like any addiction. Some of them may be completely oblivious to their own actions, even when they pay a dear price for it.
It is amazing that some of these people have billions in the bank; they really don’t need any more money but they cannot stop.

It is almost surprising to find fear as part of this formula, but fear often disguises itself as a whole variety of different thoughts and emotions. Fear is part of this equation is various ways:
1) The fear of loss and of lack.
2) The fear of incompetency, of being incapable of doing something else.
3) Fear of being held hostage by accomplices, who may report past wrongdoing if one attempts to change their ways.

Other emotions are also possible:
1) Hate: “Everybody is stupid and they deserve to have everything taken from them”.
2) Anger, resentfulness or contempt: “I am much smarter than most people. I should have much more than others”.
3) Disappointment, frustration or retaliation: “I used to play by the rules and got crushed. Now I’m going to play by my own rules.”

Any of the above emotions are the result of suffering and hurting. Like all toxic emotions, they have very limited logic to them, which is also an indication of what limited view of the world such people have. They don’t see what many honest people know intuitively, moreover, they may be afraid to change and allow themselves to see beyond their current capabilities.

If punishing such people had been effective, we would have seen a decrease in crimes. But in reality we see the opposite. Punishment cannot solve this situation. We cannot lock them away and pretend that they are gone and the problem is solved. If we are to help ourselves as a healthy society, we must help these people.

Judgement, criticism, contempt, fear, hate and similar emotions, will not allow us to make any positive change. It is only by listening, becoming compassionate and with a lot of patience – like that of a loving parent to a misbehaving child – that we can begin, slowly and with many setbacks, to show such people unconditional love and acceptance. With time, it is those positive emotions that will help us achieve a positive change for them and for us. Love and compassion are true healers. And remember; by helping the other, we help ourselves.

Jun 182014

Did you ever try to stop your addiction – right here and now, “cold turkey” – whatever the addiction may be?

Many of us try to do just that, and when we do, there’s an interesting phenomena happening.
Once we recognize that our repetitive practice does in fact fit under the definition of “addiction”, and further, once we recognize that a particular addiction is our adversary, a schism occurs and we become split:
One part wishes to be allowed to continue its practice of indulgence through addiction, while the other tries to overcome the impulse and eradicate the practice. One part is the adult, who knows that the practice is self destructive (to whatever degree), while the other is the child, which exhibits wanting. The adult has its reasons/excuses for aborting the practice, while the child has its own reasons/excuses for continuing the practice. Sometimes the child, just like any regular child, “wants just because it wants”, without any reasons or excuses.

Then there’s the will, or the judge. It oversees both parties, listens and finally decides. The adult has our own wellbeing as its goal, while the child uses tantrums to achieve its own goals.
Being the judge we get torn between the adult and the child. What may initially start out as minor wining, could quickly escalate into ear wrenching tantrums that may seem to increase exponentially by the moment.

Amazingly enough, we are completely free to choose whose side to support. Mentally at least, it is as easy to side with one party, as it is to side with the other. Yet the tantrums have an extorting power which is violent. And just as we end up so many times, giving in to a child’s tantrums, we do the same with the child within, who’s craving its substance of addiction.

The interesting phenomena that occurs, is that each time that we succumb to the child’s tantrums, in effect we give it more strength, so that the next time its tantrums will be more violent than they are now.

Likewise, when we patiently and lovingly, with understanding, say to the child: “I know that you really really really want (the substance of addiction), but it is bad for you, and I’m not going to allow you to hurt yourself or me” – the tantrums will become more and more violent, as they always do. This may go on for minutes, hours or even days, and it is most certainly heart wrenching, just as it is to see any child suffering.
At some point however, the tantrums begin to subside, as the child cries itself to sleep and we get relief – a wonderful experience.

Every time we choose the latter option, we effectively make sure that the next time there are tantrums, they will not be as violent as they are at the present. It doesn’t mean that the judge will not experience emotional pain and pity over the child and consider siding with him/her. It may take quite a few such trying experiences, in which the judge sides with the adult, under very violent tantrums, before the child’s tantrums become less violent.

Each time that the judge sides with the adult, the judge too, from its own perspective, becomes less prone to be swayed by the child’s violent tantrums, even when they are very difficult to handle. The judge begins to see how the child doesn’t have the maturity to protect itself and so the judge gradually realizes that only he/she can protect the child from further self-inflicted damage and pain. When this happens, even if the child’s tantrums are very violent, the judge gives the child a loving hug, and says: “I know that you are hurting. It will hurt for a while, before it finally relents. You will have to be patient”.

Just about anything in our life, could be an addiction, not just drugs and alcohol. Addiction can be to: work, sex, shopping, seeing the doctor, eating, drinking any non alcoholic beverage, taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs, TV, internet, Google, need for love or pity, need to be approved of, rituals (both religious and non-religious), habits, being kind, volunteering and anything else that is part of one’s life. Nothing is exempt from potentially becoming an addiction. NO-THING!

When we wake up to becoming aware of this inner dynamics within us – as laid out above – and we fully realize the power that we have to choose which party to side with – this in itself is a very empowering experience / knowledge / understanding. This awareness is our strongest tool to place in the hands of the judge when the time comes for him/her to make their decision.

You are not alone. The journey is not over, but you are getting better, all the time.