We see what we believe is true.
We believe what we think we know.
We do not know what is true for another.
Yet, when we see someone who is visibly homeless, addicted, depressed, ‘other’, we believe we know what the problem is — the addiction, depression or some other ‘choice’ they made to get their life into such a state.
We do not know the truth of another until we step out from behind our judgments and beliefs about the circumstances of their lives to connect to the heart of what makes them so human.
As humans, we seek connection. When we don’t have it, or can’t get it, when we feel disconnected, alone, left out, we experience pain.
We will soothe our pain by any means. Addictions are a way of soothing pain.
If you don’t believe it, watch yourself the next time you walk into a meeting or into a social gathering where you don’t know the majority of people in attendance. What do you reach for? A cup of coffee? A drink? Or, do you reach out to someone to connect?
What happens if you feel rejected? Do you smile and keep trying or do you pick up whatever is in front of you, a cup of coffee, water, a pen, and ‘act busy’?
An addict is doing the same thing. Their pain goes so deep it travels back to childhood, continually pushing them to push away the pain in the ‘here and now’ of whatever happened ‘back then’ to cause them to feel isolated unwanted, shamed, dirty, unworthy.
In their pushing away the pain from ‘back then’, the here and now becomes a place to avoid. And the only way to do that, is to numb the pain in the here and now.
We all have self-defeating behaviours we employ to numb our pain. For some, those behaviours can be deadly. And while we may want to label their behaviour as wrong, or even label them as ‘bad’ people, they’re not. They’re human. Just like you and me. It’s just for them, the pain is so bad they cannot live with it.
In this short video, Dr. Gabor Mate gives a different view of addictions and explains why finding our light within is vital to being kinder to ourselves, and thus the world.