Do I Really Need Spirituality or God in Recovery?
“God” and “Spirituality” are tricky words. They mean something different for everyone. Ask a dozen people and you will get a dozen different answers, stemming from different religious and cultural backgrounds and beliefs.
In treatment and recovery, we focus on reaching a deeper level of experience, which we call the Authentic Self. It is here that a person experiences unconditional love, harmony, peace, joy and oneness. This level is associated with spirituality and God because people often associate these feelings with a religious experience.
But the Authentic Self isn’t about redefining any words, or changing your beliefs about the spiritual. The Authentic Self is compatible with any religious beliefs and even atheism. In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle started using the word “Being” to describe this state. It doesn’t matter what you call it, or where it fits into your beliefs. Everyone has room to live in a grounded place of equanimity.
What is the Authentic Self?
Freud taught that there are three levels of awareness. The physical level is what we do, the mental level is what we think and believe, and the emotional level is what we feel. But some of Freud’s contemporaries thought something was missing from this model. They believed that there was something deeper underneath your actions, thoughts, beliefs and emotions. A spiritual level, which is who we really are. At this level we experience unconditional love, harmony, peace, joy, and oneness.
- Physical Level (What we do)
- Mental Level (What we think and believe)
- Emotional Level (what we feel)
- Spiritual Level (Who we really are)
Most of us are much more connected with the first three than we are with the spiritual level. How we connect to that fourth level varies person to person, and we are often unaware of it. For some the most spiritual place is being alone in the wilderness. For others, it is worship or meditation. Whatever form this experience takes, it’s about staying balanced and connected to everything around you.
For every level except the Spiritual Level, there is duality. There is pain and pleasure in the physical, sorrow and joy in the emotional, and right and wrong in the mental. But in the spiritual there is only positive experience. This lack of duality means that no matter what is happening in your life at any particular moment, bringing yourself into the spiritual level is always a positive change.
Why is The True Self Important in Addiction Recovery?
Learning how to live at the spiritual level is an important step in recovery because it’s a place where you are centered and balanced. Even if you can only stay there for a little while before a trigger occurs and pulls you out, we just want to stay as long as possible. Living out of your spiritual self allows you to stay in balance in your life. You can see how this would be helpful in recovery — empowerment over physical choices, renewing of the mind, and a new foundation for emotional health.
Our job is not to control the outside world. Our job is to work to stay in a grounded place where we continue to love ourselves and make self-honoring decisions.-Joe Koelzer There is a principle of Spiritual Psychology that says, “The issue isn’t the issue. How I am with myself as I go through the issue, is the issue.” What is going on outside ourselves doesn’t have to pull us out of our center. Our job is not to control the outside world. Our job is to work to stay in a grounded place where we continue to love ourselves and make self-honoring decisions.
Often when people come in looking for addiction recovery help, they believe they are broken and flawed. They have internalized the idea that there is something deeply wrong with them. This mental space doesn’t help them, in fact it is detrimental to their recovery. They need to feel empowered to take action and stop judging themselves.
To get there, we start by working with the participant to help them deal with what they are feeling in that moment. From there we look at the four levels of experience and work to bring the first three into a more positive space.
When a patient stops using, they are instantly bringing their physical level into a more positive position. From there, a counselor can provide the tools to bring your emotional and mental spaces into balance by becoming aware and empowered. By using these tools to self-reflect and achieve balance, we start to find ourselves in that grounded spiritual level more of the time. Once there, it’s about dealing with disruptions as they occur, and finding our way back to positive alignment as quickly as possible.
What if I’m Not Spiritual?
Even though many people don’t consider themselves to be spiritual, we are still able to experience this state of Authentic Self if we allow ourselves to. Spirituality is just a label for this state, you can call it whatever fits with your individual experience. We can only give you an invitation to try something new, and provide you with the tools to get there.
Most of us are familiar with the Authentic Self even if we don’t recognize it. A great example is unconditional love, an experience that only exists on the spiritual level. This outlook of love and acceptance transcends worldview. The core of Spiritual Psychology is that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. What does this mean for you? Seek to live through your Authentic Self and you’ll find that your physical, mental and emotional life experience will come into alignment.
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