The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas.
This ancient line from the Tao Te Ching is an important reminder. First it makes reference to the importance of moderation—often an elusive concept to those in recovery from addiction. More importantly, it speaks of the importance of allowing oneself to be open to change even in the realm of one’s own ideas. Addictive behaviors are essentially the dysfunctional pursuit of comfort. Successful recovery, then, must be rooted in the functional pursuit of emotional comfort, and, inversely, the routing out of emotional discomfort. Although discomfort comes from many areas, often it is the very way we approach life that causes the discomfort we are attempting to thwart through our addictive behaviors. The very philosophies that we consciously or unconsciously use to navigate life may be part of the cause of discomfort in our lives. If we are not committed to the process of self-analysis we don’t stand as strong a chance of recovering completely. While it is important to become aware of where one stands philosophically and intellectually, and while it is often important to live up to the ideas that these stances provide us, it is equally important to remain open enough in mind and heart to recognize when a particular stance is keeping us from moving forward.