Bad Luck and the Nature of Addiction
“I didn’t mean to do that.” “That wasn’t my intention.” “I know this looks bad, but it’s not what it looks like.”
What percentage of the things that surround us or percentage of the consequences of our actions were our intention?
Many stories and mythologies have items that are cursed if touched or carried would cause the worst fortune to happen. How is it that it seems likely to be the case sometimes that there is some curse on us that overshadows our intentions an abilities? We realize we don’t want to do some habit, smoking, drinking, gossiping, aggression or passive-aggression, and somehow we can’t do it? Isn’t it odd that we can both want to do something and not want to do it at the same time? And what is more odd, is that we can consciously not want to do something and then do it anyway? If we are not controlled by our own consciousness, then what are be controlled by?
I’m probably not the only one that does this, but if I am in a place that makes me nervous, for example a dimly lit street downtown where I have to walk to my car alone, my mind starts to look at things around me as either sources of danger or resources I can use if danger arises. Suddenly a rock on the ground is not a just a part of nature but a potential weapon I could use to defend myself. Everything becomes an obstacle or a tool for my escape from potential danger. Our mind and heart are context driven and when we establish the context of escape from potential danger, everything will be perceived through that lens, and we won’t be able to see if for what it is.
Our thoughts can race and be difficult to stop even though we can see them, but our heart is invisible to us and can be frantically trying to solve the proposed problem just as intensely as our mind and since we don’t see it doing what it is doing, we will be surprised when poignant feelings suddenly arise. Our heart may be unconscious but it is not dumb, it knows what works. The question is, works for what?
Once we accept that all of our actions are either a conscious or unconscious solution to a problem, it is only a matter of figuring out what problem our unconscious is trying to solve, in order to give it another way of doing it. We look at our addictions the same way other people that don’t do them look at them, as if there was absolutely no reason to do them. I have never smoked a cigarette, but I would assume there is something good about it to outweigh the bad for all the people who do it. My assumption is that it calms someone’s nervous, that it facilitates social interaction through providing a light for someone or to have something to do with in the awkward pauses in a conversation. I think we have to make the best case possible for the actions we do that we want to change, so that we know what niches they fill and so we can fill them with something else.
Some people hate complaining, and other people seem to complain about everything. What is the best case we can make for complaining? News papers and stations wouldn’t exist if people didn’t want to hear bad news, there is obviously some attention grabbing factor in negatively spun news. Also, what could we talk about that doesn’t involve anything negative?
If our deepest drive is to love and be loved, we wouldn’t do anything that didn’t achieve that end. The question is whether something else can help us towards that goal better. If when we talk about something we are proud of that we have done and then feel less loved because of people’s reaction to it, we will sub-consciously want a way of conveying the same thing without coming across as bragging. What are ways we could do that? Well if we complain about how much harder our job at work is because of other people, then we are indirectly conveying that we are hard workers who are more capable than everyone else at work without someone being able to say we are bragging. This means that if we go to work and nothing goes wrong, if everyone does their job, then we will have nothing to complain about, and therefore no way to indirectly convey what we want to convey.
When we make the best case possible for everything we do intentionally or on accident, we can sort out the niches that can be filled with something better and the niches that don’t need to be filled. In the first example, smoking, the niche of how to handle nerves and facilitate social interact are niches that should be filled. The second example, the niche of proving that we are worthy of love, that is a niche that we probably shouldn’t try and fill.
When we look at our bad fortune or our addictions, beating ourselves up about them will only distract us more from objectively seeing the problem that “accident” or “addiction” was mitigating. We beat ourselves up because that’s what we have seen works. We were grounded, spanking or shamed, and it changed us before, so why would we try something different now? We might ask, “Why am I so hard on myself?” and feel really dumb about it, but just like any other “accident” or “addiction” is it solving a problem, but one that can be solved by something else.
We shouldn’t assume that our anyone is completely illogical or destructive, we all at our core want to love and be loved, the problem is that limited experience and society have given us false ideas of how to love and feel love, and that has gotten us all spun around. If we pause for a moment and try to see what someone else’s “accident” or “addiction” is trying to solve, maybe we can help them solve it a better way. Love is making space for things we don’t understand so that we can understand them.