It’s time to address the spirituality question.
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Now don’t get scared.
People often do when the subject of spirituality comes up. It can remind them of uncomfortable experiences with churches or religious people they may have had. Or they think of nuns, Popes and crucifixes and all sorts of things that seem to have no connection with their life. Or worst of all they confuse it with religionism and feel guilty, ashamed and not good enough, so they reject the idea of spirituality altogether.
Spirituality is not necessarily related to religion. It can be something else altogether, although confusingly it is the basis of all religions, if you accept that the explicit purpose of most religions is to take care of our ‘souls’.
To understand spirituality we must first understand what our ‘spirit’ actually is.
Our spirit is the real us, the part not many other people see.
Our spirit is where our hopes, our dreams, our fears, our secrets, our shame, our joy exist.
It is the conversation you have with yourself from the day you are born.
It is our intuition, our gut instinct.
It is our sense of right and wrong.
Our spirit is intangible, but we all know it’s there.
It’s what makes you, you. And me, me.
Our spirit is unique to us. It is us.
How I feel about other people and the world around me comes from how my spirit responds.
When I love and appreciate my spirit is ignited. When I am hurt and broken my spirit is crushed.
When I die, for a while you can still touch my body, you can still see me. But I will be gone; my spirit – who I really was – will no longer be there.
You can’t touch or hold or control my spirit.
It is me.
That is what our spirits are. Does that make sense?
I’ll give you an even simpler explanation of spirituality.
Spirituality is just being good to your spirit (your inner-self that no one else sees). It is honouring who you really are.
All our pain comes from not looking after our spirit. Not honouring who we really are. When we dishonour it, when we ignore it, when we deliberately crush it, then we slowly begin dying on the inside. When we lie, cheat manipulate, deceive, or cause hurt, then we are behaving in ways that hurt our spirit or our true selves.
Question: does your behaviour honour your spirit – who you really are?
What is the first thing you need to change in order to honour your spirit?
I had to stop pouring drink down my throat because it turned me into someone I didn’t like. And then I had to stop sleeping with men I didn’t like because it made me feel bad about myself (it crushed my spirit). And then I had to stop lying and manipulating. I had to stop binge eating. Then I had to stop people-pleasing and be true to myself. Then I had to stop gossiping because it felt unclean. Then I had to stop chasing money for its own sake, and I had to stop reading glossy women’s magazines because I felt shallow.
The list goes on and on and still does.
It’s a personal list. Nobody can write it for you.
As my spirit awoke, something inside me changed and I found that I couldn’t continue with behaviour that harmed me (or others). This didn’t change overnight, but it did change at the pace I could handle.
When we are true to ourselves and strive to act with integrity, honour, and truth; then we nurture our spirits and we grow. We like ourselves and our experience of the world is a satisfying one.
There is a universal truth: we are either growing or dying, if we are not growing then we are dying.
Alcoholics and addicts suffocate their spirits with their inauthenticity, when this happens we start dying on the inside, our spirit is dying, who we are is dying.
This is a painful way to exist, hence the need to numb it.
All real happiness comes from within, through nurturing this spirit (this unique part of us); external factors (buying a new car, moving, getting drunk, etc.) only cause temporary, artificially induced happiness and our spirits remain unfulfilled. Lasting happiness can only come from being true to who we really are.
Our power lies deep within us. If we look inside ourselves, we have always had the resources we need. We just didn’t realise it – we covered them up (crushing our spirits) with alcohol, drugs, unhealthy relationships, buying things, spending money – we cover up that voice inside of us because it’s telling us to ‘live our truth.’
And living our truth can be hard.
We have two choices in life, one is to live our truth, and one is to not live our truth. Both are hard.
Pay attention, I want you to understand this. Both these paths are hard.
So which one are you going to choose?
Because only one leads to the happiness we are searching for.
Our purpose at this precise moment is to ‘be who we are’; our journey from this moment is to become who we are meant to be. Our challenge is to participate in all that encompasses.
If we are settling for less than that, then we compromise our truth and the pain starts.
Emotional pain is often an indication of a crushed and compromised spirit.
‘Being who you are’, often means going against the ‘herd’, it often means making difficult and uncomfortable choices.
Sustainable happiness can only manufactured from within. When it is produced externally it will always be temporary.
Our struggle is that we have never been taught how to create happiness within; we have only been trained in external fixes.
If there is a spark of recognition when you read this, it’s because you know it too.
So start now. Clean up the crap that is smothering your spirit. Connect with it, listen to it, and nurture it.
Sure you will make mistakes, of course you will get things wrong and you most definitely won’t be perfect at this.
All that is required is you try.
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Your truth will be different from mine, your truth may require you to join a religious organization, or it may not. Your truth may call you to change careers, relationships, cities, friends and habits.
Your truth will most certainly require you to stop drinking and using drugs.
Your truth is calling you.
Can you hear it?
This has been adapted from my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom.’ It has a chapter explaining what spirituality is and how it can be applied to the alcoholic.
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