How to Break Free from Addiction for Good — a Surprising Discovery by Bill Wilson

How to break free from addiction for good?

Brain full of addictions
Image from Pixabay

Whether it’s alcohol or social media, if you have battled with addiction for any number of years, you know that it’s not enough to just stop. Stopping is relatively easy. The hard part is not to start again.

Bill Wilson, a co-founder of AA, saw thousands of people quit drinking after “working the 12-step program.” But he noticed over time that many of them eventually replaced their old addiction with a new one.


Why do we keep relapsing?

“How often have some of us begun to drink in this nonchalant way, and after the third or fourth, pounded on the bar and said to ourselves, “For God’s sake, how did I ever get started again?’”

AA’s Big Book, page 24.

Why do we keep relapsing? According to Bill Wilson, an addict will remain an addict as long as they believe in their power.

We go back to our self-destructive behavior because we believe that through it we can control things.

For example, I fall into passive aggression and start pouting every time I feel offended because I believe that this will induce the other person to meet my needs.

The reason I fall into workaholism again and again is because I believe that through overperforming I can control how much I get in life.

The reason I reach out for this next piece of chocolate against my better judgment is because I believe I can control my mood from outside in.

I believe in my own power. I am God.


The gates of hell “closed on him with a clang”

The AA Big Book tells of an American businessman who, after trying to give up drinking for years, went to Europe to get consultations from a famous psychiatrist Dr. Jung.

He finished his treatment with unusual confidence. His physical and mental condition were unusually good. Above all, he believed he had acquired such a profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs that relapse was unthinkable. Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time.

(AA’s Big Book, page 26)

Going back to his doctor, he asked why he couldn’t recover. He begged him to tell the whole truth and he got it. In the doctor’s judgment, he WAS UTTERLY HOPELESS.

Dr. Jung advised that he should “place himself under lock and key or hire a bodyguard if he expected to live long.”

The doctor said: “You have the mind of a chronic alcoholic. I have never seen one single case recover, where that state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you.’’ Our friend felt as though the gates of hell had closed on him with a clang.

(AA’s Big Book, page 27).

The end is the beginning

This man is free now; he is alive and well. He doesn’t need to lock himself or have a bodyguard. He can go anywhere he wants to as long as he is willing to maintain one simple attitude. “I am powerless.”

When he heard that he was hopeless he had a profound spiritual transformation which, according to the founders of AA, is THE ONLY SOLUTION.


What happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

A long time ago, in the Garden of Eden, the serpent told Adam and Eve: “Take it and eat it. You will be like gods.”

At that moment, we became control freaks. The reason I am reaching out and taking this fruit again and again is because I believe that this time it will give me what I want. It never does. But I still believe that it will.

What will break this cycle of insanity?

The clang of the gates of hell. This is the “metanoia” I am looking for. Sooner or later, lightning strikes me on the Damascus road, and I wake up, saying: “I can’t do it anymore.” This is a new beginning. The resurrection.

This is what a lot of people in the 12-step programs lack — the conviction that I am not God. That I need to let go and trust.

Centuries later, a humble man told his followers in the upper room: “Take it and eat it so you won’t be Gods anymore.” And then he went to the Garden and relinquished all power.


The only way out of addiction that works

How to break free from addiction for good? The only way to break any addiction is to relinquish power. As long as I believe that I am in control, it’s a hopeless business.

There is a solution…We saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it… We have found much of heaven, and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.

AA’s Big Book, page 25.

What is this “fourth dimension” mentioned in AA Big Book?

The fourth dimension is a state of mind in which I believe that there is a Power greater than myself. For a control freak to accept that there’s a Power greater than me is like jumping out of the plane without a parachute.

I don’t actually need to obsess about my statistics and how well my articles perform. I am not God. I can just focus on enjoying the writing process. I can die to my desire to be successful. I can jump off this plane and fall into the “fourth dimension.”

I can actually skip this piece of chocolate even though it feels like a little death. I don’t need to fill myself up from outside in. There is a Power greater than me that will fill me up.

I don’t need to stonewall this person, hoping they will second-guess my thoughts and meet my needs. I can’t control other people. I have no power here. There is a greater Power at work. I can let go and trust.


When you slip, go back to the beginning

It would be a lie for me to say that I am completely free of my addictions. I still relapse to the “I am God” belief almost every day. And it’s ok. I forgive myself. It’s not about perfection but about going back to the beginning again and again.

What is the beginning? The clang of the gates of hell. The “I can’t do it anymore.” I am powerless. This is the only way because it’s the end of me.

The gates into the fourth dimension open every time I hear the clang of the gates of hell. If I listen and take the leap of faith, I am rocketed into the life that I never dreamed of.

A Simple 10-minute Practice That Undercuts the Root of Anxiety

Green forest and a trail

There is a simple 10-minute practice that undercuts the root of anxiety. Brene Brown, the world-famous shame and vulnerability guru, described it very well in Oprah Winfrey’s show when speaking of the inner workings of shame:

“To grow exponentially, shame absolutely needs three things: secrecy, silence, and judgment. Shame cannot survive two things: being spoken and being met with empathy.”

Destructive emotions feed on secrecy, silence, and judgment. Reversing this pattern involves:

  1. Breaking the secrecy.
  2. Speaking up.
  3. Getting empathy from someone who will not judge you.

A workable solution for anxiety is surprisingly counterintuitive

After struggling with anxiety for about 30 years, I finally found something that works. As of today, I have not been anxious for over a year — which is surprising, given the circumstances I have been through.

My first anxiety attack came at 21 when I was a senior in college — many years ago. It came totally out of the blue — it must have been triggered by a train of thought, which I totally didn’t notice. And it felt so bad, I had to excuse myself and go out to breathe it away.

Since then I would get it every once in a while — and always out of the blue. Trying to “figure it out” never helped. In fact, it made it worse. I couldn’t trace it to any external cause.

Of course, I did a bunch of things to get rid of it — consulted psychologists, exercised, memorized the Bible, read tons of books on self-help, philosophy, and religion. It helped… sort of…until the next attack.

Little did I know that the solution is totally non-rational.


A simple practice to alleviate anxiety which has nothing to do with thinking

About a year ago, I made friends with a few guys who were doing a simple 10-minute practice as part of their recovery program (in AA). The goal of the practice was to relieve 4 basic human emotions — selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear.

When I heard the word “fear,” I cringed. A simple practice to alleviate fear? It sounded too good to be true.

You see, I had been studying philosophy, religion, and psychology for 30 years. I had been a voracious reader of anything from Dante to Melody Beattie, and you are telling me I will find a solution in a few simple steps?

A year into it, I have no skepticism left. It works. The surprising lesson is that overcoming anxiety is not a matter of thinking. You cannot “think yourself out of any problem.” Since anxiety is not rational, the solution for anxiety is also not rational. It lies above and beyond thinking.


We have never been reasoned into anxiety

“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”

Jonathan Swift

Our anxious states are not a result of reasoning. None of us have developed an anxious mind by consciously thinking about reasons to be anxious. The anxious mind is formed as a result of a certain way of living. As Richard Rohr put it:

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”

Just as our wounds come in a non-rational way — through a certain way of living — so also recovery comes non-rationally, through a certain way of living. We start “doing things” in a new way, and gradually our old way of thinking gives way to a new one.

I grew up with active alcoholism in my family, and my mom left when I was in my first year of college. By that time, my anxious mind was full-fledged with this hidden message: “You are on your own. There’s no one you can trust.”

This subconscious message was fertile ground for anxiety. When I was able to conjure up a belief that I was God, fully controlling my little universe, I felt great. When something threatened my faith in my omnipotence, I would panic.


What must have been happening in my mind

It is not so easy to realize that anxiety is non-rational. Whatever is the message that feeds it, it’s entirely subconscious. I don’t see it, and I am not aware of it. It plays in my mind again and again, but it always flies under my conscious radar.

Turns out, it needs secrecy to survive. When I start seeing it, it loosens its grip. The more conscious I become of my unconsciousness, the less power anxiety has over me.

There is nothing to “understand.” All I need to do is to repeat a few simple steps as best I can.


4 steps for reducing anxiety

There’s nothing magical about them. It’s a simple 10-minute practice that undercuts the root of anxiety. The only purpose of this practice is to shine the light of consciousness on the dark areas of the mind.

Light is the most powerful thing in the universe. The way out of darkness is to turn on the light. These 4 steps help you to become aware of the mental records that run your life.

That’s all. You don’t fight anything, you don’t resist anything. What you resist, persists. The goal is to see.

  1. Ask yourself the following questions: “Right here, right now is there any selfishness in me?” “Right here, right now is there any dishonesty in me?” “Right here, right now is there any resentment in me?” “Right here, right now is there any fear in me?”
  2. Pause for 10 seconds after each question, listening carefully to what is going on inside you.
  3. Ask whatever Higher Power you have to remove the feeling.
  4. Share how you feel with at least one trusted friend (a SAFE person in your life).

How the non-anxious brain is formed

Anxiety was planted into my subconscious by a certain way of living. There is a hidden destructive message running in my mind like a broken record. But I don’t see this message.

When I break the secrecy and speak up about how I feel, I slowly become aware of this hidden record. My record says: “You are on your own. You must control everything. You must be god.”

When I become conscious of this hidden message, I gradually realize that it’s false. No, I am not omnipotent. No, I don’t wield absolute power in my little world. There’s a Higher Power greater than me. I can let go of my need to control.

The only way out of unconsciousness is to grow in consciousness. Unconsciousness cannot survive the light.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.”

Jesus
Mirtle tree and the sky

Self-inflicted Stress — How I Learned Not to Force Anything


For some people, life is boring when all goes well.

Photo by sharon wright on Unsplash

A lot of stress is self-inflicted stress. That is, we can avoid it if we choose to. But we choose not to. The reason is that our bodies “need” it. Often people don’t want to reduce stress because they use it as compensation for their nutritional deficiencies.

According to Dr. James L. Wilson, a leading specialist in nutritional balancing science, people who are constantly tired often use stress as a stimulant. Over time, they become addicted to stress and instinctively choose things, people, and situations where they can relive the level of stress they are used to.


Why people “need” stress as a stimulant

It sounds strange, but it is a well-established fact that people who grew up in abusive homes end up recreating the same degree of abuse in their adult relationships as they saw in their childhood.

They find partners who stress them out. They find jobs where they carry the brunt of the workload for pennies. They find friends who “need” them. They find people they can rescue.

They are ready to sacrifice themselves on every altar and feel bored when life goes well. Life should be tumultuous to be interesting. They need drama to feel good.


There is a scientific explanation for that

When the body experiences daily stress for an extended period of time, it loses some of the essential nutrients and minerals — like zinc that gets flushed out almost immediately through urine when we get stressed.

When the body is deficient in essential nutrients, its energy level decreases. In time, we develop cravings for things that can get us going despite fatigue — coffee, energy drinks, sugar, and stress.

Putting some stress on the body gives a temporary boost to adrenal hormones — primarily cortisol. Cortisol raises blood sugar, which, in turn, gives us some energy. We feel we can keep going.


Getting cortisol through the back door

There was a time in my life when I used jogging to wake up. It helped. I would feel energized and alert for about 2 hours after 30 minutes of light exercise. And then… a sudden drop of energy.

The thing is, I was tired, but instead of sleeping more, I would stimulate myself by exercise. Exercise is good, but not as a substitute for rest.

There was a time when I used carbs and coffee to get me going. I craved white bread and sweets — still do. I would snack every hour not to get sluggish in the middle of the day. It helped for a while… until it stopped.

The funny part is that when you are tired, the idea of getting some sleep is the last thing that comes to mind. My gut reaction was to grab some “easy energy” foods or whip myself into action by doing something stressful.

It backfired. Stress is accumulative. The body keeps the score. I burned myself out.


How I disobeyed the “heavenly vision”

I remember getting a weird dream once. It came right before waking up. I heard a distinct voice telling me in Russian (my first language): “This is God’s command for you — sleep more!” It rang in my mind for quite a while because it rhymed.

I immediately knew that the voice was spot on — I needed more sleep. But, unlike the Apostle Paul, I didn’t obey the “heavenly vision.”


There is a world of difference between nourishment and stimulation

Eventually, I hit the bottom. Slowly I realized that there was a vital difference between nourishing and stimulating the body. Stimulation is like whipping a tired horse that won’t go. Your body is completely worn out but you drive it with sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or stress.

Stimulation is when you force yourself to do things despite fatigue… and pay the price of utter exhaustion. Gradually, I learned the not-so-obvious difference between forcing myself into action and doing things as a result of having enough energy.


Nourishment is about giving the body what it needs so it can accumulate energy. It’s never about forcing or pushing anything. When you have enough energy, you don’t need to push yourself. Things flow naturally.

Nourishment is about giving yourself enough rest, nutrition, and self-care so you have a surplus of energy. When the body and mind start getting nourished, stimulating foods and activities lose their appeal.

There is no need to whip myself into anything. When I’ve had enough rest, work comes easy. It flows. I don’t watch the clock. I am lost in what I am doing.


Learning not to force anything

I love the Daoist parable about the cook, told by Chuang Tzu:

Cook Ting was cutting up an ox for Lord Wen-hui. As every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee — zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to the Ching-shou music.

Wen-hui marveled at his fine skill and asked how he was doing it. The cook replied:

“What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill…When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself… And now — now I go at it by spirit and don’t look with my eyes…I guide the knife through the big openings and follow things as they are.”

Whenever the cook came to a complicated place, he just told himself to watch out and be careful, and he moved the knife with great subtlety, until — flop! the whole thing came apart like a clod of earth.

The cook learned not to force anything but to “follow things as they are.” When I feel I am forcing myself, I know I don’t care about the Way.

When I push myself, I create self-inflicted stress — I don’t go by the spirit. When I whip myself into action by food, sugar, or stress, I know I am making my life miserable. I need to let go, slow down, sleep more, eat better, and then — flop! the whole thing suddenly starts working.

11 things that help me nourish myself

I still have a long way to go, but I have made the following agreements with myself:

  1. When I feel tired, I don’t push myself to keep going. Instead, I take some rest.
  2. I don’t start working until I feel I have enough energy.
  3. When I go to bed, I consciously allow myself to sleep in.
  4. I only write when I feel I have something to say.
  5. I don’t care about stats, claps, or comments; I just enjoy writing and reading.
  6. I feed my mind with good writing (There are so many great writers on Medium. I am also into audiobooks).
  7. I don’t use exercise — jogging or biking — to get energized. I exercise only when I feel rested.
  8. I eat slowly, chewing well and savoring every bite.
  9. I never eat on the go.
  10. I know my tendency to overplan, so if I have 5 things on my list, I cut it down to 2. (I will still end up doing 3).
  11. When I find myself in a hurry, I consciously slow down by giving up what I think I am going after.

When I am well-nourished, my body thanks me by giving me the energy I need to enjoy life. I can smile, love, and create. As Dr. Wilson said:

“I have never seen a depressed person who wasn’t also low on energy. When you have enough energy, you simply can’t be depressed.”

How to Be Enough with Who I Am?

Insight from an egret.

Eugene Terekhin Feb 23 · 2 min read

Image for post
screen capture by author

How to be enough with who I am? Here’s the secret of an egret.

I was walking along the creek, feeling empty. I didn’t even know why. There was this unsettling feeling that something was amiss.

I know this feeling so well. It haunts me. It always tells me the same thing over and over: the moment you are in is not good enough. You need to skip it and go to some blessed future.

Engrossed in my thoughts, I saw an egret in the shallow waters, standing on one leg. It pointed its beak down, waiting patiently for its breakfast, looking perfectly content.

It was sure it would get its fish. Life was good.

It looked up and saw me. So serene and unperturbed it was in its immovable stance that I couldn’t help but stop.

“Are you in a hurry?” the bird asked me silently, like a white marble statue.

“Yes, I need to get so much done,” replied my weary soul.

“Why?”

“Because I need more.”

“You already have it all,” said the egret, deftly shooting its beak into the water and pulling out a small fish.

“If you use this moment only to get to the next one, you will never enjoy what you already have.”

“What’s there to enjoy?” I mumbled.

Without a reply, the egret spread its huge wings slowly and gracefully over the murky waters and took to the sky. Swooping over my head, it almost allowed me to pat its curved neck.

I stood in awe, speechless. For a moment, my cluttered mind cleared, and the wind brought a distant echo:

“Enjoy being who you are.”

The wind bloweth where it will, and you will hear its voice every once in a while, saying: “Who are you?”

“Are you enjoying being yourself? Or are you using this moment as a means to an end?”

I teared up.

My winged prophet was disappearing in the clouds, carrying a small fish in its beak.

“I also have a few small fish,” thought I, and my heart soared on the wings of a sudden insight.

“I have enough. I can feed the world with who I am.”

A quiet pond
Photo by author

The Power of an Empty Mind

“The soul does not grow by addition but by subtraction.”

Meister Eckhart

I was looking at the lampshade that I was designing as part of my business. I liked the way it turned out. And yet, something made me doubt whether it was ready to go to the client. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was.

Was it the shape? The size?

Straining my mind for an answer, I suddenly felt some unease growing in me. I knew very well what it meant. It usually means that I am frustrated with how things are going and want quick results.

Chuang Tzu

Chuang Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, told a parable of an archer who “needed to win.” At first, he was shooting just for fun and seldom missed.

When he was offered a reward, a brass buckle, he became nervous. Then, he was offered a prize of gold and went blind – started seeing two targets.

His skill didn’t change, but the prize divided him. He cared more about winning than shooting. The need to win drained him of power.  

I also knew what my mind was doing. It was set on winning. On results. Not on the fun of designing. My unease made me blind – I couldn’t see what was lacking in the lampshade.

I stopped and took a breath. I needed a break. “The soul does not grow by addition but by subtraction,” the famous quote crossed my mind.

It felt counterintuitive – I had a deadline to meet. The project was due the next day. Just thinking about it gave me more anxiety. I was desperately grasping for control.

Sitting down in a chair by the window, I turned away from the lampshade. Do I really need to get it done today? What if I let it go and stay inactive for a while? The thought sent shivers down my spine. I could lose the client if I didn’t ship it on time.

But there was something else behind it all that I feared even more. Deep down in my heart, there was a little perfectionist who couldn’t bear the thought of not meeting someone’s expectations.

It was my self-image, my EGO, I was holding on to. It was my ego that made me so uneasy. I knew I needed to let go. I will stop striving for results and will trust my creative instincts.

Taking the leap of faith, I finished the last of my coffee and stepped out for a bike ride.

For the rest of the day, I was watching my mind intently – it would shoot back to the lampshade again and again. But, after some time of silence, it slowly loosened its grip.

I sat by the window, watching the kids play with a plastic bag that they inflated like a balloon. My wife was busy in the kitchen making pancakes – the Russian style! And then, finally, my mind was empty. For a while, I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular.

Noticing the smells, the rustling of the plastic bag, the laughter of the boys, I was becoming increasingly aware of what was going on around me. And there was peace, undisturbed by any thinking.

The next morning, I walked into the room and looked at the lampshade. And suddenly – bang! I got it. It struck me like lightning. It was a simple solution that only an empty mind could produce.

I added one piece to the shade and immediately knew in my heart that it was it. There was no doubt. Because it came out of emptiness. There was no ME in it.

Moving back to our Harvey-flooded house

We are moving back to our Harvey-flooded house in a week’s time. It’s been a year and a half since we were displaced. I have moved three times in my life, and I have come to a point where I find it more unnerving than rewarding. Not that I dislike adventure and discovery – it’s just that I’ve had too much of it. I like to come back to something familiar, without having to change the entire wiring of my brain over the whereabouts of the forks. I like things to be within my arm’s reach. I like the familiar things to be within my eye’s glance. I like my future to be within my imagination’s scope.

Yet, move we will. Moving things around is like uprooting trees. My couch must have grown roots into my bedroom floor by now, and the poor fellow will probably screech and squeak as I yank it out of its native soil. My bookshelf will look so orphaned without the books, which will end up in boxes. A gaping hole in its heart will be hard to look at for a whole two hours until the books find their way home. The spoons and cutlery will be dinging against each other as they fight over their place in the new kitchen drawers.

Yet, move we will. We can’t do without moving. We can’t do without some unrooting. We can’t do without some dinging and some finding your place under the sun. They say, there’s nothing new under the sun. But when you have been moving around for quite some time, you almost want to say there’s nothing old under the sun. But we will get through and rediscover our old nest. We will send down new roots after some screeching and squeaking. The gaping holes in our hearts will be filled with new and old books. The new place will become the familiar place, but, after a while, our souls will suddenly overflow with the desire for new adventures and discoveries. Aren’t we a strange mix of resisting change and yet yearning for it?

We hate being uprooted and yet can’t seem to settle in for what we have. We want to rest our eyes on something familiar and yet crave for the scope of our imagination to ever expand to new horizons. I guess I will take it easy, and start preparing for my unavoidable move, little by little. One box at a time, one screech at a trip, one ding at a walk.

The Bridge Who Was a Giant

 

Once upon a time there lived a giant by the name of Yant. He was so huge that he could easily step over wide rivers. But that’s not what he loved to do – his favorite pastime was to sit on the bank of the river watching tiny boats sailing by. When the boats were passing the spot where he sat, he would often, just for the fun of it, bend over the river, pretending to be a bridge. He would plant his legs on one bank, lean over and put his hands on the other. He loved this game of a bridge and spent hours at it. Often, those who happened to sail by underneath his big round belly, would lift up their heads and say to each other: “That’s a good bridge, no doubt about it.”

The giant did not mind. He knew who he was – a giant, not a bridge. But it happened quite often that, whenever a boat was passing by, the people onboard would hear his stomach rumble after a hearty meal and say to each other: “This bridge is very well built. What an incredible traffic capacity. Hear all this noise?”

Actually, while the giant was playing his game, there were cars, buses and bikes running up and down his back all day long. And why not? After all, people need some way to get over the river. Very soon, however, he found out that, whenever he “was a bridge”, there was a constant flow of traffic on his back – so he decided not to straighten up until the day was over and there was no one left up there. After all, he didn’t want anybody to get hurt. But as soon as it was night, he would unbend himself, stretch his limbs, sit down comfortably on his favorite spot by the edge of the river, and strike up a conversation with his old friend as he watched her quiet waters gracefully flowing by. Continue reading “The Bridge Who Was a Giant”

Hooked: A Story About Fishing in the Swimming Pool

The swimming pool was teeming with people. Bright luminescent bikinis, squealing children, laughing dads, chattering moms, all jumbled up together in a thick soup of incessant movement, stirring, whirling, mixing, blending.

On one side of the pool, there was a man sitting by the edge of the water with a long pole, fishing. His face was hidden in a thick beard. He seemed totally detached from what was going on around, watching intently the red bobber on the undulating surface of the pool. A guard hastily jumped down from his tower and ran towards the man.

“Sir,” he said with an air of utter amazement, “what are you doing? This is a swimming pool!”

The man didn’t budge.

“So what?”

“This is not allowed!” “This is…,” he stumbled, “you’ve got hooks out there, people can get hurt!”

“Yeah,” chuckled the man, “what did you think? Good things come to those who bait. Just look at this beautiful bait.” Continue reading “Hooked: A Story About Fishing in the Swimming Pool”

The Song of the Void: The Self-fish story

In the blue-blue sea there lived a fish called Self-fish. What a strange name, you might say. Who gives such a name? Well, it’s actually a whole group of fish. They are called “Self-fish” by other sea creatures who are sure about themselves that they don’t belong to this category.

She knew very well who she was – Self-fish. Of that she was reminded daily.

“Stop thinking about yourself all the time. You never care about others,” the others chided.

“Why are you looking at yourself all the time?”

“If you weren’t Self-fish, you would have had more compassion on our poor nerves.”

“Why am I Self-fish?” thought Self-fish. “I have to change. From now on I will think about others all the time.”

And that’s what she did. Tired of being shamed and blamed, she decided she would be looking out for the interest of others. She was hoping that others would start appreciating her more and more and would finally stop calling her Self-fish. But the more she tried to please them, the less they seemed pleased. In fact, they blamed her all the more. “You should think more about others and less about yourself! Shame on you, Self-fish.” Continue reading “The Song of the Void: The Self-fish story”

How to Be a Friend to Your Own Child

No doubt, there is a time when you need to be a parent to your children, but there comes a time when you can become their friend. Being a parent is about exercising control, being a friend is about letting go of control. Being a parent means you attach a child to yourself, being a friend means you let them go so they can come back to you of their own accord. The paradox of parenting is that you bind a child to yourself when they are little, so that you can let them go when they grow up.

When I think about my relationships with my kids, I have to come to grips with one thing – if I wish to be their friend, not just a parent, they must choose me for a friend. Unlike parents, friends are chosen, not given. And this has to be a free choice on their part, with no compulsion, coercion or manipulation on mine. Such is the nature of friendship – it’s a free choice, not out of necessity or obligation, but because a person’s soul resonates with your heart and mind.

C.S. Lewis wrote: “I have no duty to be anyone’s Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself.” Friendship can only thrive when someone’s inner world is attractive to you in and of itself. It’s true that my children are 100% dependent on me, and I could have forced them to “be my friend”. But that’s not what I want. I don’t want to say to them: “Be my friend, or you will regret it.” Friendship, unlike parenthood, is the opposite of dependence. Continue reading “How to Be a Friend to Your Own Child”