Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. -Kahlil Gibran
If it were true that we humans naturally moved toward healthy decisions and behaviors, we would not have to take such pains to learn to change addictive patterns. We would simply change. But the truth is that we naturally move toward what is familiar—those patterns, relationships, and life habits—healthy or not—that create the ‘shell of our understanding.’ It might seem that if what is familiar is causing us trouble in our lives, there should be natural movement away from this trouble causing behavior. If, however, you are reading this, then you know that this is not the case. Changing addictive behaviors means necessarily changing patterns that are deeply imbedded and intimately familiar. It means necessarily facing and experiencing all the emotional discomfort—primarily experienced as various types of fear—that inevitably come with venturing into uncharted emotional territory. The greatest barrier to becoming free of addiction is the tendency to give in and go back to the unwanted behavior when the pain of change and the experience of fear arise as the addictive behavior is removed. There is no way around the need to face this state of pain. Recovery begins when these emotions are faced squarely. Eventually the pain recedes as the ‘shell’ of what is familiar expands to include what was once not familiar. This is the nature of true recovery—the ongoing effort to face the discomfort that limits our understanding so that it can be ever expanded to include a life of our specific choosing.