Ask: Aren't we addicted to the ego?
Aren’t we addicted to the ego?
No. But when you think that the ego (personal thought system) is your reality you do think that you need it to live. So you feel that you have a dependency on it.
Let’s look at the distinction between abuse, addiction, and dependency. These words are often used interchangeably but there is a difference between the experiences.
Abuse refers to using a substance, behavior, or situation improperly, thereby harming or risking harming yourself. This does not necessarily lead to addiction or dependency. For example, most of us abuse food on occasion. You may overeat at a meal or regularly overindulge in a certain food. Or you may get drunk or high, even quite often, without developing an addiction or dependency on alcohol or drugs. Abusing substances can be a passing phase, for example when you are young and want to enhance your fun or when you experience a crisis.
The hallmark of addiction, which makes it different from abuse or dependency, is that when one is addicted to a substance they go through painful physical withdrawals when they have been without the substance for a length of time. An addiction is caused by the hijacking of the survival mechanisms in the brain by the substance. The brain becomes conditioned to the substance and responds as though it needs it for survival. So withdrawals are really a misplaced experience of starvation. The body responds as though it is dying without the substance, much as it would without food, when it really is not. Withdrawal does eventually pass, though not necessarily all physical cravings for the substance.
Psychological dependency is the belief that one’s well-being is dependent on a substance, person, or behavior (sex, video games, etc.). One does not feel physical withdrawal symptoms if their object of dependency is withdrawn, but they experience an agonizing psychological sense that they cannot live or deal with life without it. Most addicts are also psychologically dependent on the substance that they abuse but not all psychological dependents are addicts. Twelve-step and other recovery programs are centered on learning to deal with psychological dependency even if for the addict withdrawals and possibly physical cravings pass. The dependent must learn to approach life in a manner contrary to the way that their brains are wired and this is why for many recovery is a life-long process.
[There can be a physical dependency on drugs that does not involve psychological dependency. One may be dependent on a medication to live (such as an immunosuppressant for a progressive auto-immune disease) or to have any quality of life (such as an anti-depressant for a depressive disorder). One who is dependent on drugs for life or quality of life does not experience either physical withdrawal symptoms or psychological stress if the drugs are withdrawn].
In a sense you could say that the ego is for abusing yourself, so you’re not misusing it when you believe it’s you. You are using it the way it means to be used! And you experience relief, not withdrawals, when you release the ego, so you are not addicted to it. But you do seem to have a dependency on the ego. However, you seem to only when your mind seems to be in ego. Only in ego does ego seem real and only in ego do you feel it necessary to resist your True Being (God). You feel that to let go of the ego is to die. You persist in listening to it, even long after you’ve learned how much it hurts you to listen to it, because you think that you need it to live. This is why you resist releasing it.But your existence and the ego are not the same thing. You exist, whole and complete, apart from the ego. Ultimately, this is what you have to learn to release the ego and be at peace.
Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at www.acimmentor.com.
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