hanging is an interesting feeling. I don’t mean changing something small, although that can sometimes be uncomfortable too. I mean literally changing everything about your entire being. It feels wrong. If it doesn’t feel wrong, then you haven’t changed. This part of recovery is one of the hardest to overcome, at least it was for me.
Everything that we do in life gets added to a filter through which we see and experience everything in our lives. This filter serves the purpose of letting us know what experiences are worthwhile and essential to building on our current personality. This is why when someone is complimented they can take that compliment several different ways. Say you complimented someone’s shoes. That person can think that you are hitting on them, or maybe that you see something wrong with their shoes and you’re calling attention to the flaw, or that you are jealous of them in some way. How the person hears the compliment depends on their personal filter. These filters are built over time and the longer they are formed, the stronger and deeper ingrained they become.
When a person changes they challenge this filter system. These new experiences not only don’t mesh with their “old” personality, but they threaten the existence of the entire system. As the person forces themselves to act against this filter system, they begin to build a new filter system to reinforce their “new” personality. Now, this takes time. I personally had been creating my “old” filter for twenty some odd years and had only been recreating myself for a few months. It’s natural to feel like the new things that are being experienced feel oppositional or like they’re “wrong” in some way.
The only way to overcome this filter system is to overwhelm the old system with new experiences. The more experience a person gets doing things differently, the stronger the new filter becomes. Eventually, the new filter is as strong as the last one was and now it will feel uncomfortable doing things like you used to. This system is how addiction moves from choice to disorder, back to choice. Once an addict reaches a certain point of their active addiction, the filter is so strong that their entire being tells them to continue to use and that doing so is as essential as breathing, removing choice. As the person starts to force themselves to act differently and to experience a new way of life, then it would take effort again to go back to addiction because their filter now encourages them to stick with the new experiences and no longer acts on the old, addictive filter.
If you’re trying to change you will want to quit. You will feel that everything you are doing doesn’t feel like “you.” Don’t stop! Push through this feeling and continue to experience life in that new and better way. Your filter does not define you, you define your filter. This isn’t only true for addiction. This is true no matter what you’re trying to change. Change is not comfortable. Anything worth changing for is worth a little discomfort. Experience those new things and continue to live life. Before you know it, you will start to wonder how you were ever any other way.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction contact addiction specialist at (606) 638-0938, 24 hours a day seven days a week, or use our private and discreet chat function online at www.addictionrecoverycare.com.
Hope and help are just a phone call away.
In His Steps,
Jonathan Hughes, MA, CNP, CTBHP
Kentucky Peer Support Specialist
Addiction Recovery Care