After averting a potentially catastrophic DXM reversion (“relapse”), I set out to build a brand new life. In Liberated Living, we’ll transform myths to truths, take down the stigmas associated with dependencies on self-limiting coping mechanisms (“addictions”) and review powerful tools for permanent, total recovery.
This is part six of an eight part series titled Liberated Living.
The following is a revised version of an email I wrote on October 19, 2014, just a month after my brief DXM reversion.
This email was a response to a friend who had, with mighty sincerity, expressed a triumph over recurring patterns of codependency.
Her words were overflowing with confidence as to the finality of her triumph, which was wonderful for me to be in the presence of. Alas, in my experience, personal revelations and confidence are profound but the exclusive or all-encompassing features of permanently turning habitual self-limiting patterns into freedom and conscious choices.
At the time of my response, I had been improvising a self-empowerment program just over one month, and with unprecedented success. I experienced peace and balance in my life as never before as an adult, and I believed (and still do) that I had tapped into my personalized formula for a lifetime of self-control and conscious choices.
Herein, these following concepts were fundamental to my personal ascent from one of the lowest, most desperate points and serve as fortification that ensures I will not be forced (by my own hand yet against my own will) into that desperation ever again.
Evidence for anything
You’re clearly going through an important and profound transformation.
I have one piece of advice for you, in the spirit of promoting your continued evolution:
Every day, every moment if necessary, actively look for evidence of growth and stability.
There will be evidence of stability. At the same time, there will be evidence of backsliding.
Ignore all evidence of backwards motion. Do not even look for it.
This is not denial, nor wishful thinking.
If you find yourself pursuing evidence of failure, you will find it. Simply make a conscious choice to seek out evidence for stability and growth instead.
The key here is there will always, always, always be evidence for both.
Justifying the evidence
I, like many others, have been thoroughly conditioned to believe that change is inherently and always a process of “one step back, two steps ahead.”
That is bullshit.
In the past, I believed it, and sought out evidence for that belief. Found it, no problem.
From my perspective, the evidence must make it true.
If it is true, then I will live my life in strict accordance with that belief. I will expect to fall backwards before moving forward. Always.
Truth is, I might even use that belief as a justification to be complacent in my own evolution.
I could make poor choices because it is established that a step back is permitted from time to time, and even better, it means I am growing!
By that logic, if I make a lot of poor choices, I sure am going to leap ahead a bunch of steps quickly.
That logic sounds insane when stated as such, but I lived my life that way for a long time.
What we believe, we look for evidence of. We cannot help it. It is how we’re wired. It is part of what keeps us glued together, cohesive with reality.
Any belief can be proven to the individual believer. No exceptions.
Even a person who thinks he is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ knows it to be true, because he has seen the evidence, which has proven the belief.
Everyone else knows it is not true because their evidence (which backs up their beliefs) says differently.
Let’s try believing what works best for our lives, and look for evidence of that.
Neither I, nor you have to step backwards anymore. Don’t need to be stuck. Ever.
Since we can find evidence for anything at any time, we can choose what to look for based on what we want our lives to be.
I believe this 100%. I look for evidence of what I am saying now, every single day. And it’s changed everything.
Imagine this scenario
Let’s say you have a history of depression, but you have had an extremely hopeful past week.
Then, you wake up one day. You do not feel as well as you did the day before.
Yesterday, you felt full of energy and life, your mind was free and your thoughts clear.
But this morning, you feel lethargic, your thoughts are not processing smoothly.
At that point, it would be understandable to fear that you are losing grip. After all, feeling this way before has often been the precedent for falling back into depression.
So, your belief might be: “Feeling this way means I am going to lose momentum and become depressed.”
If you look for evidence of that belief, you are likely to find it all over the place. Then you will be down and out again before you know what hit you.
You will move backwards because you believed you would, looked for evidence that it was true, and then believed it even more.
It doesn’t help to have messages circulating in your mind, such as: “Progress is made through one step back, two steps ahead,” or “Set-backs are normal and to be expected.”
Those statements are justifications that will reinforce the evidence that you’re moving backwards.
Proving and ensuring limitations
“I feel less energetic today than yesterday,” is evidence for the belief: “When I feel an unexpected dip in energy and motivation, I know that I am losing my positive momentum.”
Add to that some justification:”One step back, two steps ahead. Set-backs are natural.”
(So it is OK for me to slip backwards, because it is perfectly normal and awesome)
The result will probably be a series of yet more evidence gathering that will further prove you’re slipping. And you’ll slip.
Proving and ensuring empowerment
Good news is, it does not need to be that way!
Let’s go back to that unexpected morning of lethargy. Again:
“I feel less energetic today than yesterday.”
This is where you can stop yourself.
If you know that what you say about yourself will be proven true because there is always evidence for everything, you can hit the brakes whenever you say something about yourself that does not promote your highest good.
Maybe the justifications will arise. “One step back, two steps ahead. Set-backs are natural.”
That’s OK. Now you see them as justifications, so you are not obligated to automatically agree with them.
Instead of buying into the evidence of losing grip and the corresponding justifications, you decide to look for all the evidence that you’re stable and well.
So, you say something like this to yourself:
“Wow, yesterday I felt so good. So stable. I went to bed happy, that was so nice. I woke up in the middle of the night and my mind was full of happy thoughts. I loved that. Now today, while it is true I feel less energetic than I did yesterday, it could be for any number of reasons. It could be because I haven’t eaten or had water to nourish my body today yet. Could be because my body wants to move, and I haven’t gotten out of bed yet and done yoga yet. Wow, it would be so many things. In fact, it probably has nothing to do with slipping. I have no credible evidence that I am slipping. I have so much more evidence that I am well. The fact that I am thinking through this right now, challenging my irrational thoughts, transforming them into new possibilities, is incredible evidence that I am stable and healthy. I love this so much. I love myself for being able to work through this.”
By the time you’re done, you suddenly feel energized and happy. Just like yesterday.
You go and nourish your body with sustenance, and do exercise to sustain your health and stability and create even more evidence that you’re healthy and stable.
Become depressed or build healthy momentum? Those two outcomes could not be further apart, but they start at the same point. It is all about the quality of the evidence gathered and where it takes you.
Join the peaceful revolution with Andrew L. Hicks
Sign up for free stuff and all the latest about Andrew's books, public appearances, and policies pertaining to HICKS/YOU 2020.
Instantly receive a free copy of The Art of Being Human in the eBook format of your choice (or choose 'em all, whatevs).
Also published on Medium.