By Ron Paterik, Alcohol & Drug Counselor, MA, LISAC
When it comes to addiction or life with an addicted loved one, there is one common denominator… pain! As a result, it eventually boils down to a single central issue: what are you going to do with your pain? Are you going to use the pain to push you to grow deeper and expand as a person? Or will you allow the pain to paralyze you; pushing you into resistance (fighting the same fight over and over) or victimhood (self-pity, blaming, and anger).
A profound spiritual truth to consider in this matter is: If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit our pain (thus ensuring that the cycle of destruction will continue.)
Transformation moves us through stages of preoccupation with the external problem to an increasing awareness of our inner sources of difficulty. As this occurs, real and lasting change begins to emerge.
Below is a brief description of these stages:
Engaging the Heart
- Awareness: an early recognition of the problem, but not a full understanding of the extent; an initial breakthrough of our denial
- Endurance/Toleration: we focus on surviving adverse circumstances, but not really learning from them (often this is the state in which we show up at a PAL meeting)
- Tactical/Outward Change: engaging the head; we make practical, external changes without taking a hard look at who we are
- Engaging the Heart: a breakthrough of our inner denial that triggers fundamental re-evaluation at the deepest levels of identity and beliefs
- Overflow: our transformational experience becomes a springboard for influencing many others
My encouragement is that you don’t stop at endurance, but embrace the process and allow it to bring you to the destination of deep change. A life of authenticity, generosity, and compassion will make the pain we experience worthwhile.
On the path with you…
Ron Paterik is a practicing psychotherapist in Phoenix, Arizona with over 20 years’ experience. He is a licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor and also a Whole Life Leadership Mentor at Grand Canyon Counseling.