Chapter 3

From Addiction to Enlightenment

In the first chapter, we discussed the terms addiction, codependence, and adult child. Now we fit these terms into the framework of self-referral introduced in the previous chapter.


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The true goal of all successful therapies is to restore self-referral on as deep a level as the person is capable of at that time. Better therapies restore self-referral faster and get closer to the Self, but every successful therapy restores self-referral. The Twelve Steps do it. Skills training, journaling, grief work, dream work, breath work, body work, focusing, affirmations, visualization, naming your feelings and feeling your feelings -- whatever is useful in recovery -- move us in the direction of increasing self-referral. Take something as simple as gratitude. If you feel genuinely and reverently grateful for anything-even something seemingly inconsequential-you take your awareness down to the finest level of feeling. You increase your degree of self-referral.


To make what we have said in the first two chapters more concrete, let's relate it to familiar recovery concepts -- traditional approaches that have little (at first glance) to do with the theories of consciousness in this book. We will start with grief work.

Grief Work

This is also called original pain work. It is a therapy tool suggested by Alice Miller and made popular by, among others, John Bradshaw. It typically applies to adult children -- those who grew up in an environment, such as an alcoholic family, that caused childhood development to freeze due to extreme stress. Through grief work, adult children get in touch with deep, hidden levels of emotional pain. By experiencing it, they free themselves from the negative emotions frozen inside the mind and body.

Grief work gets its name, by analogy, from the natural process of grieving that occurs after a traumatic event. For example, when someone close to us dies, there is a period in which the loss is mourned. During this time our psychology reorganizes, allowing us to adapt and move on in our life. Those who grew up in a dysfunctional family are blocked from this kind of adjustment. As a result of family rules such as "don't feel" and "don't talk," they have not been able to mourn the trauma and losses of their childhood. Consequently, the dysfunctional individual's psychology never adjusts to the realities of adult life. Their self-referral diagram is shown in Figure 3.1.


Adult children have difficulty feeling their emotions unless they are acting in crisis mode. But jumping directly to the level of feelings is not self-referral. The intellect, the body, and the true realities of the environment are ignored.

Grief work is successful because it restores self-referral. It is a limited self-referral, but it is a significant step in the right direction. Acknowledging the pain of the past, and feeling it, activates the feeling level. Because an accepting, come-what-may attitude is adopted, naturalness replaces inner struggle. If a person is more natural, they have more self-referral. After the healing process, the new diagram looks like this:


The solid arrow goes down to the level of the feelings, and a little past, because the ego level is also affected. Hopefully the person slipped a few times into the experience of the Self. So we draw a dotted line down to the Self. We now have the diagram we saw a few pages ago, the one for a self-actualizer. Later we will look at ways to go beyond self-actualization to enlightenment...



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