"You can never get enough of second best, because it's so unsatisfying."
If you’ve been concerned about addiction or compulsive habits and are exploring the possibility of making some changes, you might be interested in how this phenomenon looks when viewed through the lens of the principles behind clarity…
1. You have very good reason to be hopeful. Many people who once used behaviours or substances in addictive / compulsive ways have found freedom from those life-damaging patterns by realising some simple yet non-obvious facts about how every human being’s mind works. *
2. All addiction is the result of a deceptive misunderstanding. Nothing more, nothing less. Just as ignorance of germs’ role in infection led to millions of people suffering and dying throughout history, a misunderstanding about how our personal experience of life works has led to millions of people suffering with addictions and compulsions.
3. The misunderstanding that drives addictive patterns is the mistaken belief that our feelings can come from somewhere other than Thought in the moment. I refer to this as the “outside-in” misunderstanding. Here’s a practical analogy: Many toddlers have a security blanket or teddy bear that “gives” the child a sense of comfort and security in times of change or uncertainty. Of course, we know that the blanket or teddy bear can’t actually “give” the child a feeling of security or comfort; that can only come from within the child themselves. It just seems to the child as though the feelings come from the teddy bear (i.e. from something outside of them). But it doesn’t work that way. It only works one way; inside-out. Every adult knows that the child’s security blanket involves a trick of the mind, but how often do we look to adult “teddy bears” (e.g., work, possessions, money, food, relationships, substances, gambling and other behaviours) as though they’re somehow different?
4. The patterns of addiction are a reflection of two “flavours” of the outside-in misunderstanding. Flavour 1: It often seems like a person’s feelings of stress, boredom or emotional discomfort are coming from somewhere other than Thought in the moment (E.g. it seems like their feelings are coming from their workload, their boss, next week’s meeting, last week’s argument, their bank balance, their childhood, what they’re like as a person etc). But that’s not how it works. We’re always living in the feeling of Thought in the moment, even when it seems like our feelings are coming from somewhere else. Flavour 2: It often seems like a person’s feelings of relief, peace and excitement are coming from somewhere other than Thought in the moment (E.g. it seems like their feelings are coming from a drink, a drug, a cigarette, gambling, sex, food, habitual behaviours etc). But that’s not how it works. We’re always living in the feeling of Thought in the moment, even when it seems like our feelings are coming from somewhere else.
5. The solution to the outside-in misunderstanding is “embodied understanding” of the principles behind clarity. Embodied understanding is not the same as understanding something intellectually. When you have embodied understanding of something, you know it “in the muscle”. You grok it; you really get it. Examples of embodied understanding include your practical, everyday understanding of how to walk, how to talk or how to drive a car. Embodied understanding comes via insight: fresh new thinking that arrives from beyond our habitual thought patterns.
6. The only source of good feeling is within you. Every good feeling you’ve ever felt (including those that seemed like they were coming from a substance or behaviour) have actually come from a source of peace, security and wellbeing that exists within you. Stop and consider that for a moment. Every good feeling you’ve ever attributed to something “out there” actually came from within you. The same is true of every uncomfortable feeling that seemed like it came from somewhere other than Thought in the moment.
7. Everyone gets tricked by this deceptive misunderstanding. Nobody intends to get deceived, but we all do. It’s just a matter of degree. While not everyone gets deceived in ways that are life-damaging, everyone has had the experience of a) being tricked into believing their uncomfortable feelings were coming from somewhere other than their moment-to-moment thinking and b) looking outside themselves for relief. An example is the person who says “I’m stressed out because I’m so busy – I really have to meditate / go to the gym / go for a walk”). You don’t get tricked on purpose; you are innocently deceived. Because everyone gets tricked by this misunderstanding from time to time, nobody is in a position to judge you. Not even you.
8. You’re not broken, so you don’t need fixing. There’s nothing wrong with you. Period. You’ve been innocently tricked by the most deceptive misunderstanding of all time. Just like everyone else. No-one is immune from the outside-in misunderstanding, but we all have the capacity to see through it and wake up to our true nature; the inner source of peace, clarity and vibrant aliveness that exists within each and every one of us. Including you.
9. You have an innate capacity for peace, wellbeing and clarity. Wisdom, love and inner security are your true nature. A vibrant sense of aliveness and connection to life isn’t just something you get; it’s something you already are. Like a cloud passing in front of the sun, contaminated thinking (arising from the outside-in misunderstanding) temporarily obscures your true nature from time to time. But like the sun behind the clouds, the peace, clarity and connection of your true nature are there the whole time. They only ever get temporarily obscured by contaminated thinking.
10. Your mind is a self-correcting system. Just as your immune system is always endeavouring to bring you back to a set-point of full physical health, your “psychological immune system” is always attempting to restore you to clarity, peace and wellbeing. The only thing that ever slows that process is the outside-in misunderstanding and the contaminated thinking it generates. The outside-in misunderstanding is like a sewage plant contaminating a river. You don’t need to clean the river – the moment you shut down the sewage plant, the river will clean itself because nature is a self-correcting system. Just like your mind.
11. The clarity model is ruthlessly subtractive. Clarity equals capacity minus contamination. As you deepen your understanding of the principles behind clarity, you’ll find yourself falling out of your contaminated thinking more and more frequently, and waking up to the security, connection and wellbeing that are your true nature. There is nothing you need to rehearse, remember or practice. Just keep exploring the principles behind clarity and you’ll start having the insights that will wake you up from the outside-in misunderstanding. As you start experiencing your true nature more of the time, you’ll discover yourself being freed from the innocent patterns of addiction and compulsion.
12. Stay in the conversation. What you’re reading here may seem simplistic, confusing or trivial at first, but if you’re willing to continue exploring these principles, you have every reason to be hopeful of a full recovery, and a richer, more enjoyable experience of life than you may have thought possible until now.
* Using certain substances over an extended period of time can result in physical dependancy. When a person has developed a physical dependancy, medical supervision is recommended when it comes to reducing the dosage.
In the weeks and months to come, I’m planning to create some additional materials to support people in this area. If you’d like to be kept up to date as well as read my weekly newsletter, click here to enter your details: https://www.jamiesmart.com/freedom/
Here are some other resources that you may find useful:
The World Clarity Project: I’m dedicated to eradicating chronic psychological suffering by 2030. You can find out more about the project at WorldClarity.com
Gulf Breeze Recovery: An alcohol and drug rehabilitation programme based in Florida who use the principles behind clarity as the basis of their amazing work in helping clients get free from addiction and live lives they love. http://www.gulfbreezerecovery.com/
Elaine Hilides: Elaine is one of my apprentices, and does amazing work helping people to get free from addiction and live deeply fulfilling lives. http://elainehilides.com/
Dr Mark Howard: Dr Howard is one of my mentors, and one of the most experienced and effective people in the world at helping people get free from addictive patterns and live happy, fulfilling lives. http://threeprinciplesinstitute.org/
CLARITY: Clear Mind, Better Performance, Bigger Results and The Little Book of Clarity. My first book, CLARITY, has helped many people with these issues, and we’re also getting great feedback on the impact of my latest book, The Little Book of Clarity. You can find more details here: http://claritybook.biz/ and www.JamieSmart.com/LBOC
Alcoholics Anonymous. AA and related 12-step programmes have helped millions of people get free from addiction. They are free, everywhere and can be a powerful source of support and community. http://www.aa.org/
The Clarity 1:1 Intensive: I have space to see 1 client per month for a Clarity 1:1 Intensive. You can find out more about the intensives here: https://www.jamiesmart.com/clarity-1-1-intensive/
Once again, whatever you do, stay in the conversation and you’ll find what you’ve been looking for.
To your increasing clarity,