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 One does not feel physical withdrawal symptoms if their object of dependency is withdrawn, but they experience an agonizing psychological sense that they cannot live or deal with life without it.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.

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will said…
I made the commitment to practice extension as the focus of my Course work. It has taken nine or ten years just to understand what that means. That’s not a comment on me personally but it is a comment on doing the Course in Miracles. It’s an internal commitment. I was led to Chapter Six and have been reading that. When I felt that commitment lock into place the usual happened, the personal mind went on the attack. The attack consisted of being judgmental of someone and feeling it was my duty to let them know which I did. One of the parts of chapter six is called The Relinquishment of Attack. None of what is happening is unique to me. The actual events may be but the overall attack is the ego doing its thing and is common to us all. Right now practice consists of staying centered, remembering my True nature. It is a state similar to the first part of formal meditation where you are trying to quiet the mind. A lot of back and forth, back and forth in trying to stay focused. Being successful at doing this really doesn’t enter into it, it is just a process going on. When I am focused on my True nature extension is taking place, I am using the personal mind to teach myself by doing this. So we’ll see how it goes. It helps me to write this down in this format so that’s what I’m going to do.
Anonymous said…
Well I know where Ive been and like I said I never want to go back there...ever. This is going to be kind of dark but I think it should be said.

The ego is NOT "your friend" if anything it wants to kill you, literally. It's like a serial killer killing your relationships then ultimately you.

It's sensation oriented and that's why the ego loves substance addiction and "abusers" so much because it wants to distract you from the real problem which is always you and your mind.

That's why The Holy Instant is so important because it's the antidote and the ego's death warrant. Once you Experience that it becomes a whole different ballgame, because now you Know the difference, because then only Love IS Real
will said…
My practicing of extension seems to be all about remembering to practice. It is not lack of commitment. It is about getting pulled into the chaos of the personal mind. It’s loud, it seems there are constantly decisions to be made, there is the free floating anxiety, there is the voice that is always telling me I’m doing it wrong or am off track (or whatever), fear that is specific or free floating and on and on. It’s chaos. It is loud and persistent and urgent, “Do this now or the sky will fall” that sort of thing. I am not sucked into the temptation to believe, but I am a little overwhelmed by how loud it is. It’s like walking around New York City trying to do formal meditation as you walk. It is like learning to meditate again. I know what the personal mind is doing so it is relatively easy to get centered again, it’s just that the chaos is so tempting. I have been reading The Lessons of The Holy Spirit, Chapter Six in the Text
will said…
I want to add that the chaos has always been there and I am aware of it. But when I actually began the consistent practicing of extension (staying in the Now) the volume went up along with the angst when I ignore the chaos.
will said…
One other thing. I have become more and more aware this week about how much of my study of the Course has been about collecting information. I remember what I have studied and can pull that information up and use that as a measure of my progress. There just seems to be layers and layers of this stored information which I'm glad to have but is relatively useless if I am not taking some kind of action. Pulling up the info and repeating it to someone else isn't going to get you very far.
will said…
I misspoke. It is relatively easy to recognize the personal mind is on a rant but depending on what is going on it can be anywhere from easy to next to impossible to get centered.
Anonymous said…
The sky is not "going to fall" and people are going to be people no matter what. As Liz has said; "God" is beyond and outside anything personal, the mind/"I"...experience.If you're using The Course from that perspective chances are that you'll get nowhere. There are days when I would suggest having a nervous breakdown getting on your knees and an inventory etc (Gift Of Desperation), intense therapy, or an n.d.e. to receive a True Glimpse Of "God"/ The Holy Instant. Going with what you've been "told" or what you think you know is a hindrance. Have a great day.
will said…

There is some truth to what you’re saying for sure. A few months ago it was made clear to me that I had rowed to the other side, crossed the bridge whatever you want to call it. I had my month or so of the pink cloud where I could really feel and see the results of the effort I had put in. After a time it also became clear it was time to start rowing to the other side again. I had accomplished much but at the same time I was starting over again from a new place. It seems like the Holy Spirit wants me to get serious about my practicing. I had sometimes wished I had written more down in early sobriety but never did so I am doing that now at this new beginning. I don’t want to write about how I “Should Be Doing It” I just want to put down what is going on. I like to write about it, it gets it out of my head and puts it in front of me where I can see it. I guess the main reason I’m doing it is because it is fun.
Anonymous said…
1. Addiction to any particular substance or behavior is seen mainly as a matter of personal vulnerability, exposure and access, and the capacity to produce a desirable shift in mental state.

In the traditional 12-step approach to addiction (known as Alcoholics Anonymous), basic assumptions about addiction and addicted people are based on observations, made over 50 years ago, of 100 white, primarily upper middle class, professional men who were alcoholic.

These theories were then adopted, without examination, for a multitude of other addictions and problems, and presented routinely to people of different races and social strata as the one and only way to overcome addiction.

The 16-step empowerment model is a wholistic approach to overcoming addiction that views people in their wholeness– mind, body and spirit.

A fundamental basis of this model is flexibility and an openness which leads to continually ask:

What works?

Who does it work for?

And How can we help it work better?

It encourages people to be continually open to new information and not to become trapped in dogmatic teachings.

At its core, this model is based on love not fear;

internal control not external authoritarianism;

affirmation not deflation;

and trust in the ability of people to find their own healing path when given education, support, hope and choices.

The 16-step model helps people to develop ego strength which is seen as having a healthy ability to be introspective and to ask oneself the questions:

Who am I?

What do I value, believe and want?

In the 16-step model, addiction is as a complex web of social factors, physical, pre-disposition and personal history.

This empowerment model encourages individuals to develop their own internal belief system based on their perceptions and experiences.

It is fluid and open to change as the person evolves. It believes that a major task of healing from addiction is to validate the underlying, positive survival goals for safety, connection, pleasure, love and power.

Then to find non-addictive and positive ways to meet those needs. It is also crucial to create a healthy physical balance to prevent cravings.

The 16-step model addresses issues of cultural diversity and internalized oppression stemming from sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia.

In this model, the concept of “codependency” is understood as a form of internalized oppression, rather than an addiction to security, in a cultural context as well as an individual problem.

In surveys sent to both male and female members of 16-step groups asking for responses, respondents most often listed:

improving self-esteem;

helping them believe in their own wisdom;

giving them permission to be creative;

expressing and validating their personal beliefs and feelings; and helping to be more courageous as being the positive effects of a 16-step group.

The 16-step model encourages people to use this or any other model as a springboard to find their own voice.

And while it is crucial to acknowledge the power of addiction, this model helps people affirm the power they do have to take charge of their lives and overcome addiction.

Developing one’s passion, finding purpose, bonding with others and becoming involved in social change are seen as antidotes to addiction.

This approach does not posture itself as the one way or the right way, nor does it make assumptions about the length of time it takes or the path that must be followed.

The 16-steps that follow are published in Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the 12 Steps and in Yes, You Can! A Guide to Empowerment Groups.

They are currently in use in an estimated 200-300 groups nationwide, as well as a rapidly growing number of treatment programs.

Anonymous said…
The 16-Steps

We affirm we have the power to take charge of our lives and stop being dependent on substances or other people for our self-esteem and security.

Alternative: We admit/acknowledge we are out of control with/powerless over ________ yet have the power to take charge of our lives and stop being dependent on substances or other people for our self-esteem and security.

We come to believe that God/Goddess/Universe/Great Spirit/Higher Power awakens the healing wisdom within us when we open ourselves to the power.

We make a decision to become our authentic selves and trust in the healing power of the truth.

We examine our beliefs, addictions and dependent behavior in the context of living in a hierarchical, patriarchal culture.

We share with another person and the Universe all those things inside of us for which we feel shame and guilt.

We affirm and enjoy our intelligence, strengths and creativity, remembering not to hide these qualities from ourselves and others.

We become willing to let go of shame, guilt, and any behavior that keeps us from loving ourselves and others.

We make a list of people we have harmed and people who have harmed us, and take steps to clear out negative energy by making amends and sharing our grievances in a respectful way.

We express love and gratitude to others and increasingly appreciate the wonder of life and the blessings we do have.

We learn to trust our reality and daily affirm that we see what we see, we know what we know and we feel what we feel.

We promptly admit to mistakes and make amends when appropriate, but we do not say we are sorry for things we have not done and we do not cover up, analyze, or take responsibility for the shortcomings of others.

We seek out situations, jobs, and people who affirm our intelligence, perceptions and self-worth and avoid situations or people who are hurtful, harmful, or demeaning to us.

We take steps to heal our physical bodies, organize our lives, reduce stress, and have fun.

We seek to find our inward calling, and develop the will and wisdom to follow it.

We accept the ups and downs of life as natural events that can be used as lessons for our growth.

We grow in awareness that we are sacred beings, interrelated with all living things, and we contribute to restoring peace and balance on the planet.
Anonymous said…
Zen is the practice of being. It is about being present in our moment-to-moment experience - resonating and attuning to all the parts of ourselves and the world around us without judgment or criticism.

This acceptance of the flow of life - the acknowledgement that what is, is - takes us beyond words into experience. Zen is at once the study of self and the letting go of our conditioned self.

Zen is like a pure stream of consciousness taking us to the heart of clear seeing in reality - no filters, assumptions, expectations, censors, or interpretations.

A Zen approach naturally opens people to the full landscape of their inner world of emotions, feelings, beliefs, values, and the full breadth of human experience.

This, in turn, leads to creative ways of perceiving and solving problems, of being alive to our own experience. This ability is at the heart of overcoming addiction.

One day I walked into a 12-step group and said, "Hi, I'm Charlotte and I'm feeling good. Life is going well, I'm excited about getting my first book contract, and I'll probably taper off coming to this group."

What is the standard 12-step response?

"You've lost your humility. ...You're too excited. ... You should calm down. ... You'll probably relapse any minute."

The obvious question that follows is, what is a "recovered" person?

A search of approved addiction literature of A.A. and Al-Anon provided me with no definition of a healthy, mature "recovered" person.

One is always an addict, dependent on groups, and always at the brink of relapse if he or she doesn't follow certain directives and trust external authority.

It is heresy to say I am recovered - I don't need a group. Personal power, competence, self-reliance, intellect, and happiness are also suspect.

Most of all there is no room for questioning - the bedrock of expanding one's mind and developing a set of internalized values that provide an inner sanctuary of personal strength.

How is Zen related to Feminism and Empowerment? Because Zen censors nothing and encourages people to know themselves completely, it is inherently empowering.

Zen teaches us that we exist beyond the mind as pure essence, as part of the one universal energy.

Instead of identifying with our minds, we observe them.

Feminism uses the concept of internalized oppression to help people realize that all the stereotypes, rules, and inhibitions have been taught to us or implanted in our minds by social institutions - including our families.

These intruders are not our essential self.

Both Zen, and Feminism provide the freedom to explore our vast potential for human experience, emotion, work, play, expression, and creativity.

We define ourselves from the inside out by asking, "What feels right to me? What fits with my perceptions, experience and values? What are my talents and strengths?

Who am I underneath all the rules, roles, stereotypes, and fears that have been implanted in my mind in an effort to keep me subservient or afraid?"

Feminism is also about supporting equality and justice, thereby giving people equal opportunities to develop their potential.
Anonymous said…
Understanding internalized oppression can be a powerful aspect of reducing feelings of shame, alienation, and hopelessness, which undermine our sense of competence and put people at high risk for many addictions.

When human qualities such as strength, courage, kindness, intelligence, competence, warmth, passivity, self-expression, nurture, and assertiveness are separated out and assigned to fit with gender and racial stereotypes,
everyone becomes crippled or limited.

When we assimilate negative beliefs about ourselves and numb our capacity for affect, expansiveness, and joy, the resulting emptiness, alienation, and self-hatred often fuels anxiety and depression - which puts us at risk for addictive behavior.

Being lost in an addiction sometimes feels preferable to feeling unloved, ashamed, rejected, or without hope.

Naming and externalizing the oppressive beliefs can point the way toward freeing our minds.

This is powerful medicine, especially for people who have been among the least advantaged in our society, constantly barraged with negative limited images about their capacities.

Exploring internalized oppression is best done with others who share our histories.

While it is crucial to take responsibility for our lives and avoid using blame as an excuse for not taking action, it can be powerfully affirming to have the support of a peer group that shares our cultural and historical experiences.

Some examples from my interviews: An indigenous Maui group in New Zealand was learning their native language, dances, and songs as part of treatment.

One program for African-Americans had discussions on the legacy of pain descending from people brought to this country as slaves who were being totally alienated from their families and culture.

A Native American group incorporated sweat lodges and other rituals reflecting their indigenous heritage.

Gay and lesbian programs provided a safe place to talk about the difficulties of living in a homophobic culture.

Women's programs talked about female oppression, sexual abuse, and the need to stay out of violent or dependent relationships.
will said…
Whatever works for you or anyone else use it!

AA as an ORGANIZATION with by-laws has no opinion of other organizations or outside issues its only purpose is to help the suffering alcoholic.

AA is not responsible for opinions of its members or anyone else.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
When I tell so0meone that I don't drink, their usual response is always some type of defense, and when I hear that I smile inwardly because I know what's speaking, because I did the same thing.

People always run to pleasure to escape the pain, maybe it's someone they devalued or bullied as a teen or child, maybe it's that "bitch" of a husband, wife or boss. Life is full of people with skeletons in their closet which is why The Holy Instant is so necessary for a healed humanity.
will said…
I worked in the mental health area for 20+ years in all kinds of capacities and of course was a participant in all kinds of recovery groups over the past 30 years. I was a counselor for men's anger groups, ACOA, Co-Dependency you name it. I hope people get something out of it. For me after all those years and experience I came away with the belief that those types of identity groups have a very negative impact on people. A very sad thing to watch. The intensity of the people involved blocked any awareness of what was happening.
Anonymous said…
Yes it does. Once you find out that you are NOT your mind, "alcoholic" or whatever, you start questioning things there, the 13 stepping, the slave labor, the exploitation of the new comers in general to make one's self "look good" in A.A.

Real personal power doesn't need to do that. The power of The Holy Instant clarifies the mind making it coherent where things and people just come of their own accord where you don't have to use people to get what you need. It brings a shine to the body as well where the eyes are clear where only Love Exists

My post here on Charlotte Kastl's material was not an attack on you, it was to show you that I'm not the only one that questions A.A.'s belief system from my Experience of Truth. It's a validation.

I need to distance myself from my "story" with A.A. because it has caused me a lot of negative emotions (Special love/Special hate) The steps are the greatest gift to mankind in general and the real "tip of the iceberg" spiritually, it's just that the fellowship never found out about what real surrendered trust and freedom is really like.

What I Experienced as a result of the steps was so beyond beautiful and loving that a "drunk" could hardly conceive of it(There is no "brother") The Real God doesn't know about pain, dis-ease/dysfunction, and It doesn't know about A.A., or any other 12 step program

God only knows God.

Much Love and Light; "M"
will said…
I don't feel attacked at all. I was helping you.
will said…

There is nothing new in what your doing, the world is full people and groups like your approach. They always have a few things in common. They are attractive to people who feel they have been victimized by society or family or their race or sex it doesn't matter what. But there has to be the common thread of being victimized or it doesn't work. Something bad or evil has to he identified as the attacker. In your case you use AA or nationality or race or gender or whatever works. This gives you something to 'push' against to show your validity as a group. As I said your into forming victim groups so there has to be an enemy or enemies. I live in a town that caters to these folks and they make a good living at it. But your's is more of a political nature and is better suited to San Francisco or California in general. For me it is perfectly alright that people do this, it's fine, as long as they don't interfere with my life. But it never works out that way because it is a group of victims and victims need attackers or their not victims anymore. Sooner than later there is a clash of ideologies. Look at how much you have written on this blog site and the anger that is involved. It's just victims being victims and really doesn't have much to do with other issues.
will said…
If I could make a suggestion offered in the spirit of being helpful, why use the Steps? They were created "50 years ago primarily by upper middle class white professional men who were alcoholic." Your using the idea of these alcoholic white men of 100 years ago as the foundation of what you are doing. That's silly to hang onto those ideas. Create something new to work with.

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