It is not the strongest species that survives, but the one most responsive to change.
-Charles Darwin

On the continuum of mental health that runs from emotional and mental chaos on one end to rigidity on the other, addiction lies painfully on the rigid end. Addictions are created both to numb painful emotions as well as to endeavor to create a predictable and safe emotional experience. And while recovery must still meet these emotional goals, it should do so by teaching us to become more flexible and able to respond more appropriately and functionally to emotional discomfort. Life is ultimately uncontrollable and potentially precarious. By developing our ability to flow with this precariousness we decrease the need to control our emotional experience through external means, which is the very definition of addiction recovery. But to do this we will need to learn to feel the difficult emotions that accompany the ever-shifting nature of life, containing the discomfort inherent within. Just as a recurring pain in our physical bodies must be listened to as a diagnostic signal instead of simply a symptom to be anesthetized, we must learn to open ourselves up to the full landscape our emotions offer us so that we will no longer need to stay rigid, painfully trying to create a predictable, thus emotionally banal, experience of life. Then, and only then, are we able to shed the need to avoid painful feelings and open ourselves up to the emotional flexibility required, not only to survive, but to thrive.

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