A Fresh Perspective on Addiction
In this section, TJ Woodward and Jeremy Miller explore the emerging “big picture” view of addiction treatment. Through Conscious Recovery, we can begin to recognize that individuals, are not “broken”, damaged, or flawed simply because they are dealing with an addiction. What if, instead, the addiction isn’t a problem, but a “brilliant strategy” that, at one time, was the effective and perhaps only option the individual was aware of – consciously or unconsciously.
Curiosity about ourselves and others can be a very powerful and simple tool. Being curious about that idea and going deeper, we gain a different perspective as to the roots of addiction. Perhaps we realize that our “truths” change over time; what’s true for us at 2 years in recovery might not be the same as at 5 or 10 years, because we develop deeper insights about ourselves, and maybe what once rung true for us is no longer a part of who we are. That can extend to the labels we use to identify ourselves and individuals we aim to help, as well as how we live our lives.
We can extend this self-awareness to re-evaluate how we look at ourselves and how our clients look at themselves. When we label certain behaviors as “character defects”, we see ourselves as broken, but when we can view ourselves and others as whole and perfect, we can change our perspective about these aspects and the distance we try to put between the behaviors and who we believe we are. We can ‘flip the script’, and instead of labeling behaviors as “bad”, see them as having useful attributes, as being part of a “brilliant strategy” that helped us survive. When we gain this perspective, it can change our entire perspective, removing the blame and shame and self-judgment, because instead of being broken, we realize we did what we needed in that moment, using the strategies we had, in order to survive and function. This concept is true for ANY behavior. After we see this truth within ourselves, we can then learn how to hold a true space of healing and compassion for clients.
Of course, it isn’t quite that simple, but with this perspective of non-judgment and curiosity, it opens the door to exploration, and to the knowledge that as a counselor, I can’t help anyone else if I assume I know what they need to do. Even if something worked for me, it may not be effective for someone else… and yet that is a common narrative and perspective in recovery circles. When we free ourselves from that limited perspective, and allow the client to be in the driver’s seat, we let go of the need to “save” others and are better able to “be there” for our clients.
Finally, to bring it back to the big picture, TJ and Jeremy discuss the limitations, danger, and myth of a “‘one solution’ that works for everyone” concept. A foundational concept in Conscious Recovery is that we must be accepting and be open to a client’s process, and to help the client find what works best for him or her. And through nonjudgment, openness, and a willingness to let the client lead, we serve as the best possible guide and resource to help our clients identify their goals, truths, and motivations.
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