Shadowy subjects are not that easy to identify and dealing with the dark side of the self is one of them for this is an individualized journey that only you can walk alone. What I want to address is addiction. Addictions really aren't that hard to identify with a modicum of self honesty for these are compulsions, urges that we succumb to in attempting to fill an empty painful place inside. The words, hungry ghost arises from the work of Dr. Gabor Maté and his book: In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
, where he has correctly identifies the underlying cause of all addictions.
If there’s one constant among addicts of all types, it’s shame. It’s what makes us lie and hide. It’s what keeps us from asking for help – though we don’t think we need it because we’re also good at lying to ourselves about why we shop, or gamble, or drink. Peeling back the layers of childhood trauma, allowing ourselves to fully feel the unnurtured child again with all the pain that lies hidden in the shadow self is not a journey for the faint of heart.
I know for myself that shame and guilt were the driving forces of my early life, in order to not feel these devastating emotions, in an attempt to cover them with the mask of "good behavior" I learned to wear a mask and to hide. From the outside looking at myself I presented as a capable caring person and even achieved a certain social standing which was the affirmation for my "workings". I had woven a tight web of illusion around myself as a protection from the deeper shadow impulses. There is no judgement in me about this now for it is easy to comprehend the reason behind the necessity for doing this to "get along in life".
I have written extensively of my personal journey, my Self revealing through my self of a path of expanding consciousness. I have learned to make peace with my shadow, embrace it and absolve it back into the totality of me. I will write more on this in another post. What I am addressing right now is the nuts and bolts of addictive behaviors, the way we lie to ourselves and in doing so judge others in a continual stream of projection. I won't go as far to say all judgement is a projection from a broken self image though most of it is, you must be your own judge. Of course a person that is addicted will again lie that they aren't really judging ... it's a nasty circle and few have the courage to carve their way out, or I should say in.
Only when the pain of self deceit and the harmful actions to others becomes more painful than the original trauma do most people start the journey out of addictive substances and behaviors. One of the first obstacles we find is the way we judge others: "Many people have little trouble confessing to being hard on themselves, to being “my own worst critic” or to being a perfectionist. They are, after all, merely confessing to something that our culture upholds as a virtue: the struggle against the self. People are generally less likely to admit to being more harshly critical or judgmental of others than of oneself. That would be tantamount to outing oneself as a hypocrite.
Unfortunately for the image of the self-critic, it is impossible to be judgmental of oneself without being judgmental of others. Suppose each evening you look back over your day and evaluate whether you were truthful, ecologically responsible, wasteful, ethical, or greedy, praising yourself or beating yourself up accordingly. Well then, what about all those other people out there who were less honest, responsible, or ethical than you were? Are they therefore not as good as you are?
Judgment is separation. At bottom, judgment says that you choose differently from me because you are different from me. It says, “If I were you, I wouldn’t have done what you did.” “If I were a corporate CEO, I wouldn’t destroy the environment and lie to the public about it.” “If I were that wealthy, I wouldn’t spend my money on sports cars and McMansions.” “If I were that fat, I wouldn’t be on my fourth trip to the buffet line.”
I am better than that. I am not so ignorant. I am not so irresponsible. I am not so lazy. At least I have an open mind. At least I consider the evidence. At least I got an education. I paid my debts. I eat responsibly. I work for it. At the very least, I make an effort. What is wrong with those people?"
Sound familiar? These thought forms can become a litany of excuses to not deal with the shadow. They become patterns of thought that can become so deeply embedded in the mind that if not addressed will rule for the duration of a lifetime.
Self love is the answer, not airy fairy love built in the abstract ... Real love. A Being needs to become the Mother and the Father to their inner child.
I realize as I write that there are many people with a high state of awareness, they have conceptualized the higher realms, had experiences within the context of innate magic, the inner realm of truth. These experiences pull us into a polarized state of being, the true and the false which must be dealt with to reach a place of perfecting peace.
Dealing with the shadow is a deep subject which can't be fully explored in one post, I feel called to come back to it for to reveal is to heal. As painful as that may be by revealing to yourself the hypocrisies and deceit is the only way to be free.
So a little self revealing here. My addiction is to cigarettes and as I got up to make a cup of coffee and have a smoke I too realize that my hungry ghost is still active in me, smoking fills an empty space and is a substitute for friend. I've long known this and have used a lot of excuses to not quit, some of them are partially true. Tobacco is a sacred medicine and can be used in some contexts as a protection, a prayer or for communion with the Spirit world... but to not fool myself for I find myself reaching for a cigarette on most occasions to fill an emptiness that has a voracious appetite.
So the next time you hear that fizzy snap-click of opening a can of beer, or the click of opening a bottle or in my case the flick of the flame to light another cigarette simply be aware of what is driving this. And above all find the return to loving yourself. Sit with this self and allow yourself to fully embrace the traumatized child within ... critical and judgemental thinking, self recrimination
does more damage by driving the shadow deeper, it is a crime against the self.