As addicts and alcoholics progress through their addiction they are constantly crossing lines, morals, and boundaries most said they would never cross. I have never met a client that said as a young child they wanted to be a drug addict. Because the pursuit of intoxication trumps all, including food, water, and safety, addicts become conditioned to ignore their Intuition; our internal moral compass. Ask any addict/ alcoholic and they will tell you of countless times they knew they should not do something, their body was crying out NO, and yet they pursued it anyway. Some stay connected more than others but for the most part they all become masters of ignoring the internal conflict telling them “no” for the overwhelming drive in them telling them “yes.” The more this cycle continues the more they disconnect from their intuition; at first learning to quiet it, and then eventually shut it out. While this serves its purpose in the world of intoxication, lying, cheating, and stealing, it poses quite a problem for those who enter into recovery. Not only are they emotionally stunted from years of not dealing with emotions by the time they get sober but they also struggle tapping into such an important resource; their “gut feeling.”
This gut feeling serves a vital role in helping recovering addicts realign their moral compass and help them become productive members of society, resist a craving to use, and reach out and ask for help when they are struggling. Our intuition is always there, it lives in us and is transmitted through every fiber of our being. There is a nerve that runs from our brain stem down our body called the Vagus nerve. This nerve connects to our face, ears, heart, lungs, and stomach, to name a few. As our senses constantly scan for danger they tell this nerve if we are safe or not. When they sense danger this nerve is alerted and activates either our sympathetic fight/ flight response or it activates our parasympathetic freeze/ play dead response. We actually feel things in our body first which sends a message back to the brain which then tells us how to feel. So you can see how important our intuition is and why so many addicts learn to disconnect from it and our numb from intoxication to listen to it. Tapping back into it after years of ignoring it takes practice and persistence. Addicts are so conditioned to pursue instant gratification they often seek the quickest path to eliminating intense emotions. These actions are generally driven by the will of the addict, aka “self will.” Once addicts are battling a disease that lives in their brain, trying to make rational decisions is not their strong suit. They become so hi-jacked in the moment that thinking clearly can be quite challenging. Intuition however, is not part of our rational mind; therefore it can still be accessed even in times of intense emotion. For addicts, self will is destructive, it is what led them to misery and influenced the misery of their loved ones. When they get sober they hear the term “God’s will” in meetings and other groups but few know how to connect to that.
It may show itself as a twist in the stomach, a racing of the heart, or a knot in their throat. It is the feeling you get as if you know something but you are not sure why. It is deeper than an educated guess, it comes from the body and the deep parts of our mind that is scanning and taking in information that we are not even aware of. These cues can inform us of what action should be taken, the opposite of self will, it’s our “spiritual will.” I believe that our intuition is the physical connection to our spiritual Higher Power, God, Universe, and Karma, or whatever you may believe. So if you are looking to find clarity on what is self-will and what is “God’s Will” (God as YOU understand it) then turn to your intuition. Slow down, drop out of your head and into your body. Thinking will only confuse you. Some may be more disconnected from their bodies than others for various reasons, but as I mentioned in a previous writing, we should always be striving for balance. Not only balance in our lives but balance in our bodies. Horizontal integration is balancing the left (rational) hemisphere of our brain with the right (emotional) side of our brain. This collaboration of rational and emotional brings about the wise mind. We don’t want to be overly cognitive or overly emotional. Vertical Integration is integrating the mind with the body. Our society is especially disconnected from this. We punish, ignore, overfeed, underfeed, neglect, and poison our bodies as if they are seperate from us! There is no seperating the mind, brain, and body any longer. They are all one. PRacticing vertical and horizontal integration will help bring harmony, balance, peace, and health into your life. If you can bring all these into harmony you will be amazed at the results.
If you can harness the power of your intuition you will see your spiritual connection grow deeper and stronger. However, it is not just about being aware but following through with it. God’s will is not always what we want it to be. “To thine own self be true”. It used to confuse me in early recovery when they would talk about “God’s will” and “self will.” I had a hard time knowing the difference. It was such a foreign concept to me and I had no idea how to tap into “God’s will.” I was used to living my will, which got me into a whole lot of trouble. I learned over the years that my intuition helped me connect to my Higher Power’s will, like a channel. Whenever I wanted to act out of greed, selfishness, or instant gratification, my body would send me signals urging me not to follow through with these urges, signals that “normal” people listen to! As I began to listen more and more to these I began to see positive results in my life. I made better decisions, I said sorry less, and I had less guilt and shame. Serenity grew and I learned how to pay attention to my body and take care of myself. Mindfulness is a way I try to live my life so I can be present and hear my intuition. Today I continue to stay connected to my intuition and very much use it to help guide my decisions and emotions. I have this discussion with my clients and we practice tapping into their intuition. So many of us float through our day without even being aware of our internal experience. Tap into it, there is a wealth of information and guidance within you.
Curtis Buzanski, LMFT, LAADC