When reading about perfectionism in The Artist’s Way, I easily agree that perfectionism has nothing to do with getting it right. Perfectionism is the refusal to allow yourself to move forward. I can agree with that concept to an extent in that I struggle with this in my art and in-turn with my creativity. For years, I have been in a closed system with the type of art that I create. I know that I have perfected my “Style of Graffiti”, but perfectionism goes further than that. The closed system I have created in my pursuit of perfectionism is with my refusal to do anything with it. I have conditioned myself to get stuck in my closed ways of creating art; not believing my art can go anywhere due to the amount of time and energy I put towards one piece of art. Additionally, The Artist’s Way describes perfectionism as the pursuit of the “Worst in Ourselves”. This mentality stifles my creativity, keeping me frustrated and consumed by piece of art. I need to let go of time consuming art and with being frustrated with myself, but this isn’t easy by any means. I realize to move forward I need to start having fun with my art. Moving away from perfection will open up a whole new realm of creativity in my artwork and progress me to new possibilities as an artist.
As our Word of the Week series at South Orange County Detox continues, we are going to be taking a look at some of the pitfalls associated with perfectionism in the context of recovery from drugs and alcohol. While there are many facets that interrelate, and many dynamics that interact with one another to jumpstart the engine of addiction, perfectionism is one of the least discussed, yet most insidious of traits adopted by the addict in, and out of recovery. Its insidious nature is derived from the fact that this component is often either overlooked, or is underrepresented with respect to the harmful outcomes that can come along with perpetuating this perspective. As could be argued is the case with many negative aspects of one’s personality, fear is at the heart of perfectionism, and that becomes severely problematic because, as addicts, we are averse to most forms of fear. We have learned to allocate fear into the trash bins of our psyche and emotional supply; we then accomplish this feat by means of drowning it out with substances. This previous and maladaptive patterning leaves us in quite the conundrum as, if we have made the decision to be sober, we cannot pull from our arsenal the most “valuable” weapon we had in the face of this giant dragon we call fear, namely, drugs. This leaves us with but one option if we are to navigate these murky waters into those of clarity; the acknowledgement and confrontation of why it is we require perfection of ourselves when we can never be capable of such an ideal. “We must” is the name of the bullet that is fired from the weapon of fear. It is the voice that breaches and then penetrates our being saying that, “you’ll never be good enough, smart enough, lovable enough, handsome/pretty enough, wealthy enough, and competent enough.” It seduces us with the notion that if we can “do” what we believe we “must”, then we will no longer have to be fearful of coming up short. This illusion has tempted many an addict into applying false, and more importantly, unrealistic standards for who we need to be and how we need to live. As soon as we give up our childish quest for perfection, we can become grounded in a reality where goals and achievements are then actual possibilities; we can initiate the incremental steps necessary for long term and sustainable progress. The next time you find yourself making judgments with perfection as the marker for success, try and remember that the striving towards this impossible goal is not a courageous and admirable endeavor; it is a coward’s journey, and one that is embarked upon by only those without the humility to set their pride aside and be willing to marinate in their own fallible humanity. I will leave you with another quote from Dr. Jung which highlights the reality that states we must be willing to engage and integrate our insecurities and fears that lie within us all in order to eventually realize our specific path and become “the acorn that is always meant to become the oak tree.”
“No tree can grow to heaven without recognizing that its roots reach down to hell.” C.G. Jung
Finding inspiration in recovery has shaped me to be the person who I am today. I find inspiration from the influences of people around me and through the creative influences of music and movies. When I see a friend do something noble, it invites me to be courageous and to be the best version of myself. When I see people doing wrong around me, I feel a sense of embarrassment for them and I attempt to train myself to not act in that way nor follow the path of wrong choices. When I feel inspiration, whether good or bad, I filter it through my morals and value system and, in that, I find my True Self. This helps me to express my uniqueness in a positive way through how I express myself; through my words, through how I dress, through my actions and through staying connected to my true passion of skateboarding and surfing.
Spending time at South Orange County Detox and Treatment has helped me shape my morals and value system to improve myself, and in-turn find my True Self. After working through childhood trauma with Salina, I am more aware of my pattern and tendency to connect with unhealthy people therefore I am able to make changes and do something about it! Helping me to avoid codependent relationships with people who mimic my upbringing has been very insightful in my recovery and in my life. With this lesson learned, my inspiration from outside influences have lead me on a more positive path and a much more healthy way of living.
As our Word of the Week series at South Orange County Detox continues, this week we will be focusing on the word inspiration. Inspiration has become a buzzword within the culture of America within the past 5-10 years. Many individuals such as Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, and the late Wayne Dyer, have all figured out a way to even monetize this particular concept by trying to instill inspiration into their millions of listeners. As I see it, while these individuals do provide gas to the proverbial inspirational fuel tank, it seems that the problem can become the resulting lack of action on our parts; the key word here being action. Inspiration without action is merely self-indulged entertainment. In other words, we can absorb all the inspirational memes, YouTube videos, and Instagram clips that the world has to offer but if we revert back to our comfortable and self-limiting ways, the vitality of these ideas is null and void.
Our belief, here at South Orange County Detox, is that addicts have not yet gained the necessary wisdom to harness and channel this inspirational energy in a positive manner that would facilitate creative expression, replace the illegitimate highs of drug use with legitimate contentment and acceptance of oneself, and finally, a rejuvenated vitality towards life that helps steer the recovering addict in the direction sobriety. “I’m not creative” is not a statement that is accepted here at SOCD. We believe that everyone has a divine and creative spirit within him or her and that this gift needs fostering in order to allow it to be released. We are seeking out our inspirations from the external, instead of simply learning to release and focus what already lies within us all. As is the case with many of the words we have highlighted during our series, inspiration is another word that requires constant tending to lest it dissipates into the treacherous and insidious state that we flippantly refer to as “boredom”. We must resist the seduction of comfort and indifference. Inspiration in recovery is analogous to caring for a garden. It requires food, sunlight, and water or else it will not thrive and will eventually die. Inspiration works similarly as it needs to be channeled, focused, directed, and put in the context of a larger vision that will ultimately help to set us on a course of not only recovery from drugs, but the creation of a life that has purpose, meaning, and connection that will sustain our souls quest for the Spirit. Carl Jung famously stated in Latin,” Spiritus contra spiritum”; in other words, the divine spirit from above conquers the spirit of depravity that erupts in the form of our addictions from below.
“It is during our darkest moments that we need to focus our sights on the light.” –Aristotle
The last time I experienced a spiritual emergency was the days leading up to checking into South Orange County Detox and Treatment. I believe this was a Kriya because I was mentally, physically, and spiritually broken. I knew that I couldn’t go on living the same day over and over trying to keep up with my management of “normalcy”, otherwise known as numbing. The moment I found out the Salina was able to take me in I had the strangest moment of relief, I sighed in exhaustion! I knew I had made a decision that would help better my mind, body and soul. There is only so much pain and abuse that one can take, my Kriya was the turning point that made me call South Orange County Detox and Treatment and take back my life.
For the most part, my life has lacked true spiritual experiences. It wasn’t until I got sober that I began to have small spiritual awakenings, where at times I felt an enlightened state of being. Unfortunately, things would make sense for that moment, then slowly fade away. Sometimes I would feel as if I’m going in and out of different states of Kriya, as my spirituality has been hard for me to define. I’ve realized that although I am sober, I can still be a delusional narcissist who has a problem mixing up spirituality with my delusions or my selfish thinking. I used to think that I was a spiritual person but it wasn’t until I came to South Orange County Detox & Treatment where I realized I was going about spirituality the wrong way and that I have actually been in a “spiritual crisis”. Now that I am 4 months sober, I am doing my best to not constantly think about myself and keep a selfless attitude. In the past, I’ve committed to praying on and off but this week I’ve been praying everyday and waiting for God to answer, in whatever way He sees is best for me. The difference now is that I am more in-tune with Kriya in my life. I’m praying for God to guide me instead of praying for things I want. I believe that this new awareness of “Kriya” in my journey, is telling me that that I’m ready for the next step in my spiritual growth.
As our word of the week series continues here at South Orange County Detox and Treatment, we will be highlighting the Sanskrit word “Kriya” which can be defined as a “spiritual seizure” that takes place after we have allowed ourselves to be broken from a malady that has arisen and which can only be resolved by an intervention from a divine source. The most obvious Kriya in the context of recovery from substance abuse is the final phase before we make a decision to turn our will and life over to a power greater than ourselves. More bluntly stated, a Kriya can be a stern nudge from our higher power that says, “Do you get it now? You separate yourself from Me when you refuse to acknowledge the higher calling I have for you.” It is the insult added to the already sustained injury that has came about from our own making.
A Kriya can also present itself to us following an event or series of events in which we are engaging in actions that are not spiritually advantageous. Manifested physically, Kriyas can be severe fatigue, nausea and vomiting, head and stomachaches, and so on. Much like synchronicity, which was our focus last week, Kriyas come from a realm that is hidden from us, but that intervenes to help point us in the right direction, or warns us that if we continue on a negative trajectory, we will certainly pay a spiritual and often physiological price. Here at South Orange County Detox and Treatment, we believe in treating addiction not only with cognitive strategies and emotional processing but also we believe it is integral to include the addition of spirituality as means to reconnect, and tap into, the divinity that we so desperately need to embrace.
Synchronicity to me is the way that all things are connected. Its these little moments in life that remind me that there are forces in life beyond my control. An example of synchronicity in my life was when my great grandmother died. I was in New Jersey and my family was all back in California. I got an overwhelming sense that something was wrong and several minutes later I found out that she had passed. It was too much to be a coincidence and I believe it was a spirit visiting me before she went to heaven. It gave me hope that there was a higher power and something greater than me that is in control of everything.
The experience of Synchronicity has been happening to me since I was a boy. Little glimpses of synchronicity, remind me that there’s something out there watching over me. Over the years, I have realized that what I put out there, determines what I get back. Synchronicity happens when I’m grateful for the connection with the ones I’m close to and the one’s who have supported me. I put out a prayer based on a thought I’m having about someone and over time that person’s body language, behaviors & words speak to me and give me the answers that I had prayed about. In a way, showing me that what I put out there to my Higher Power, I get back, in one way or another. One example of this recently was a synchronistic moment I had with my mother. We are both in therapy and we don’t speak much. One day, the topic of therapy was on disassociation and the very next day my mom came to see me and started to talk about what she’s learning in therapy. I asked her if she was learning about disassociation and, she said, “yes”, verbatim explaining the same concepts that I had been learning in therapy the pervious day. Moments like this happen, and they remind me of the importance of spirituality in life and in my recovery. It it reminds me that I need to keep praying and focusing on spirituality because God is out there watching over me.
When I was living in Oregon about 15 months ago, I was up to no good and risking my sanity and life on a daily basis. I was in a codependent and destructive relationship and I had a drug habit that could kill an elephant. On top of all of that, I was also dealing with legal issues related to my ongoing drug use. Life was getting harder and harder to deal with. The only treatment that I’ve ever trusted is South Orange County Detox and Treatment (SOCD) and the thought kept crossing my mind to call them for help but I kept putting it off. Instead, out of nowhere, SOCD called me, which brought me to my senses and pulled me out of my head, realizing I really wanted to get sober. SOCD told me to get down to Orange County immediately to detox and get healthy again. They kept calling me to check on me throughout my trip down and all the way until I pulled out, upside. This experience of synchronicity saved my life and was NOT a coincidence. It was a reminder that God was trying to save my life and he is trying to save all of us who struggle with drug addiction.