Chase Your Hearts Calling and Leave Your Addiction Behind You
“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?” the boy asked.
“Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
I remember a time when I was a slave to the opinions of others, I can remember the feeling of despair and uncertainty of what others thought about me. There was once a time where I was depressed, drug addicted and angry at the world. I could not understand why my life was the way it was, I believed that there were lucky people, and that I was just one of the unlucky ones. Looking at others with jealousy and hatred I compared myself to everyone around me, always checking my blooper reel against their highlight reels. Then something happened, as if a wind came past me taking these feelings of negativity, hatred, and disgust with it. I cannot be sure when this change occurred but I do know that it all came with a desire to be better, it all came when I decided that I was going to raise the standards for myself and live a better life. Suddenly I did not look at people who had more than me as enemies, and soon looked to them as mentors. When I began my journey into a higher level of consciousness, I began with a quest to find my inner calling. After fumbling around and trying many different avenues, I had finally found a calling greater than myself, my mind had finally connected with my heart. At least my mind began to listen to my heart. This finding has taken me farther than I ever thought possible, but it is my belief that we all contain this inner calling, and that somewhere along the way we lost contact with it. This may be what we describe as the feeling of having a void in our lives, but this is a voice we can all hear if we listen to it.
All people have a calling within themselves, our hearts are always speaking to us, pleading for us to accomplish that in which we desire. When we are children we have a strong connection with our mission, we all have a strong bond with our hearts desire. Yet, as we get older we begin to lose touch with that inner voice. The everyday daftness of life begins to take hold of us, our dreams are denounced as silly or impossible by the people around us, so, as we get older our dreams and desire begin to fade away as we settle for a safe job, or a safe life. It is not that we lose our dream, it is that we silence this voice with the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, and the world around us. What we do not see is that we are in control of these stories, and that at any time we can change our narrative about ourselves.
Many of us live our entire lives without ever finding our treasure, without discovering the true nature of what is in our hearts. It is only when we are laying on our death bed that we begin to realize all that we wish we could have accomplished. It is because of this silencing of our true selves that we suffer. We become so attached to others that we begin to see ourselves, not as we are, but as we think other people see us. We begin to act in accordance with what the world expects from us. It is in this civil obedience that we silence the voice of our hearts calling. If we are to ever find our treasure, if we are to ever find happiness and fulfillment, we must break the minutia of the everydayness and reflect on who we have become. We must, as Carl Jung would say, become “self-actualized individuals.”
To become a self-actualized individual, we must obtain the self-awareness to access where we are at, and we must ask ourselves the only question in life that matters; am I happy? There is a massive difference between pleasure and happiness. Pleasure is what we seek in addiction, pleasure is a momentary relief of the sufferings of desire and expectancy. Pleasure is a neurochemical cocktail served up to motivate us to repeat behaviors; many times, behaviors that are not beneficial to our wellbeing. Happiness is lasting, happiness is fulfillment, happiness is having a direction and a mission. We find happiness when we are in the pursuit of our hearts treasure. We find happiness from progress. What we must begin to understand is that to find this kind of happiness, it is up to us, and no one else.
Achieving success in any area of life is only for the select few, for those that are special. So, what makes these high achieving people so special? The answer is simple, they believe that they can do it. That is what makes people successful, it is just the belief that they can achieve the goal that they set out for themselves. Believing in ourselves is not an easy goal to accomplish. Most of us move through life in the manner we have become accustomed to, enjoying mundane conversation with friends and co-workers. We become creatures of habit and accept life the way that it is. To believe that we can have more we must first want more, we must dig deep within ourselves and find what it is our hearts are calling us to do. We must dig through false belief, social expectation and most difficult of all, we must dig through fear. Many of us never act because of fear. We fear the unknown. When traveling through life we always have many paths that we can take. Out of all the paths that we walk, we only know the outcome of just one. That is the path that we are on, the path that has been set for us by everyone else in our lives. The lack of knowledge we have about these other paths keeps us from making a change, from trying something new. We fool ourselves into believing the path that we are taking is safer than these less known paths, but this is not true. Taking the safe road and doing what has always been done is even more risky. It is riskier because regret is the worst feeling of all, and by remaining inactive and playing safe, we will all one day experience the regret of being inauthentic.
There came a time where I recognized this truth, and although I did not know what the future would bring, I knew I had to step through my fear and make a change in direction. This day came when I decided I would go to rehab to overcome my heroin addiction. I had reached a point where I was tired of being depressed, I was tired of being a slave to a substance and I knew that there was more to life than what I was doing. Scared as hell, wondering if what I was doing would pay off. Wondering what life would be like after I made this decision, I boarded my plane to fly off to another state, far away from home to begin my journey. I knew that I could not blame other people, I knew I could not blame drugs for my behavior. I knew that I was responsible for the outcome of my life, and that if I did not make this change and take action that no one else was going to change my life for me. Many of us wait to act. We wait because we expect too much. We wait for others to fix our lives for us, we blame everything and everyone but ourselves for the way our lives have turned out. We fear taking accountability because admitting that everything is our fault means that our lives are the way they are because of the decisions that we have made. What we are missing is that by taking accountability for ourselves, we are regaining control of our lives, and our destinies.
Of course, we do not control everything that happens to us. Most things in our lives are outside of our control, but we do have control of what matters. We have control of the way we respond to what happens to us. In addiction, it is very common to go back to old behaviors, or even relapse. While we may not have been in the right frame of mind, or we were experiencing the difficulty of change, it is the way that we respond that is what matters. In recovery and in any change process there is too much emphasis placed on the end goal. People in recovery set the goal for themselves to be “clean and sober” and focus primarily on this daunting task, when the truth is that the goal is not what is important. There will be things along the way that will deter us from reaching this goal in the period in which we had in mind. What is important is the process. It is the process that we have control over, it is our level of effort that we have control over, it is our ability to see setbacks as learning experiences and not failures that drives us forward.
Taking accountability for our actions and making changes in our lives is not an easy process to go through. Change comes with a litany of negatives feelings and difficult decisions. Therefore, we must be in tune with our higher selves, and with our most authentic desires. What we are looking for is our north star, the thing that gives us direction when we feel lost. Our why in life provides us with strength when we feel weak. It provides us with courage when we feel afraid. Our why causes us to think about our actions, and it causes us to reflect so that we may make the decisions that will bring us closer to our truest selves.
We may not find out passions right away but what we can do is raise our standards. We can make the decision that we are not happy with the way things are going, and that we are going to make a change. Finding what our passion is, finding the reason we are here is something that takes time, discomfort, and constant progress. It takes being willing to fail, it takes willing to be different than the person we were just the day before. While this seems like the more difficult road to take, it is not. This is the only road worth traveling because everything in life involves risk. Everything in life involves discomfort. If you don’t risk the discomfort of being healthy today, you will face the discomfort of sickness as you get older. If you do not face the discomfort of trying something new today, you may be faced with the discomfort of regret when it is too late to do what you’ve always wanted to do. For our lives to be full, and our voids to be filled we must move past our fears and live lives that are authentic to our hearts.