Beyond the Big Five
The five most well-known and talked about addictions are Drugs/Alcohol, Gambling, Sex, Food/Sugar, and Co-Dependency. Their affects on individuals and society are well-documented. The recovery industry is a huge business with a fifty-mile stretch of highway from Delray Beach, Florida, down to Miami having over 400 treatment facilities!
But I am not going to get into the Big Five today. It is very clear that we as a society can and will become addicted to anything that takes us out of the human experience. We can’t seem to stand being here, being present, being available, being sociable, being caring, loving, thoughtful, emotional, happy, sad, mad, glad — we’ll have none of that. Give me bliss or give me completely checked out. There is no middle ground here on this great physical experience we call Earth.
This blog is the start of a sub-series of blogs in the larger topic of evolving the Twelve Steps into a spiritually centered, personal-power oriented, recovery program. We are going to take a look at the so-called “soft” addictions in this series. The first of these is going to be the obsessive-compulsive use of electronics.
We have set up our whole culture to enable us to check out. We are seemingly possessed, diving into our iPhones or Blackberrys at every stop sign or traffic light — wait, check that — we drive down the road at 80 miles per hour checking our email, texting, surfing the web, or watching a movie. We can’t even be present while doing something that requires us to be alert and on guard, like driving a car in rush-hour traffic.
My wife and I were out to eat the other night and we casually looked around the restaurant to “people watch” for a minute. We both found a young couple in their early 20’s sitting at a table for two; both of them had their Smart Phones out and were seemingly oblivious to the world going on around them. What is it that the phone is giving them that the person across the booth is not? What is it that makes us so afraid to emotionally connect with another person over dinner?
The other day I took the family to a movie, and during one scene that was particularly quiet it became apparent that the guy behind us was on his phone having a conversation! When asked to stop, he replied back that the call was important and he had to take it! Does the electronic signal from the phone make it impossible for the person holding it to possess good judgment? Was the call so important he couldn’t take it out of the theater?
So let’s be honest here, it isn’t the electronic equipment that is causing us to obsess like this. We are willing participants in the anti-social behavior of “teching out” – the act of checking out with the help of technology. What is the payoff? It would appear that not having to stay present, interested, engaged, progressive, and emotionally connected is what we are after.
We spend most of our waking moments checked out! We as a society have made it our priority to do whatever it takes to not experience what it is like to be human. At some point we decided that life sucks and we need to find some way of passing the time till we can get the hell out. Granted this wasn’t a conscious decision for most, but it happened nonetheless.
This epidemic of disconnectedness will ultimately fail to produce the results we desire in life. Just like with the chemical addictions, lives will start to fall apart, relationships will dissolve, friends will part ways, jobs will be lost due to decreased productivity, people will find themselves at emotional bottoms. And maybe then a miracle will take place.
Some will find this program and awaken to the truth that is in them, that they are more than their body, more than their personality, that they are a singular aspect of God, and that all of us are a piece of God. We open ourselves to the realization that our souls choose to come here to experience the wonderment of life through the inter-connected mass of sentient beings.
When we come to understand this on a deeper level, we not only want to be engaged with others, we go out of our way to do so. We come to realize that it is only through our relationships with others, that we can experience the greatest joy, the grandest feelings of who and what we really are: Love.
This is part of the process Neale has termed “The Civil Rights Movement for the Soul.” So this obsession we are all experiencing is a gift from God, The Universe, Source, Allah, Buddha, Jesus or whatever Deity term suits you. This is the opportunity that these polarizing afflictions create in the human experience. They give rise to the opportunities for grandeur.
I ask you to look around you and notice what others are doing. Take inventory of what others do, not to damn those who may be doing something you disapprove of, but to see if there is something in your life that may be similar that you could maybe spend a little effort eradicating from your persona. Examine how others interact and see how it looks from the outside. The entire world is our mirror; let’s look in that mirror and see the present.
(Kevin McCormack is a Conversations with God Life Coach, a Spiritual helper on www.changingchange.net, and an Addictions recovery advisor. To connect with Kevin, please email him at Kevin@theglobalconversation.com)