Ever get stuck in a loop of things you know are bad for you, but keep running back to them for comfort? Things like smoking, Pharmaceuticals, perhaps binge watching TV, and social media. I’m with you. All too well I know how it feels to be hooked into things that kill us. It’s not all bad until you do it to the point that it’s too much and it starts effecting our lives in ways we never intended.
When trying to stop coping mechanisms, We set high goals for ourselves to stop cold turkey and ultimately give in. This happens in a number of ways. Possibly lacking a support system from family of friends, an accountability buddy to keep us earnest about quitting, Or lack of information that could reinforce willpower. Whatever is holding you back, I’ve been there. I feel your pain. I struggle with many coping mechanisms before discovering my current practice.
Shadow work is something I discovered when going through the deepest depression I’ve ever had. I had just turned 30 and felt like I haven’t accomplished anything of value. No girlfriend or friends in general. Everyday I went to work was a living nightmare and all I wanted to do was escape.
“Shadow work is how you integrate the aspects of your unconscious psyche into your conscious experience and allow the positive aspects of the shadow self to express themselves.”
There’s many ways to preform shadow work. Most traditional methods are more of a meditative experience. Sitting down and recognizing the emotion that is giving you the most pain. Sit with that pain and ask yourself reflective questions based on that pain. This process might take time if you never done it before, but the results are uncanny. Stay persistent because making the unconscious, conscious is not a push-button practice. It takes time and understanding.
Why does all this matter as far as coping mechanisms are concerned? Well, imagine trying to go without smoking till you get that impulsive urge. With that impulsive urge, sit with it, see how it feels in your body. What about this makes it painful to you? What emotion are you feeling when you go without smoking? It could me more than one emotion! Identify it as best you can. Lead with the question to yourself, When was the last time I felt this way? I’m sure your mind will have no issues recalling the last time you felt a particular kind of pain. It’s part of our survival instincts to remember pain when it effects us to traumatic levels.
The pain you feeling might not seem traumatic when your thinking back to it, but now ask yourself this question – When was the first time you felt this pain? This step can take a moment to answer. Revealing core trauma to one’s psyche isn’t meant to be easily revealed. This could lead to childhood memories that were traumatic. The range of trauma varies from person to person. It’s not always something you thought would hurt you in your adult life but did as an infant. So be kind to yourself.
So let’s say you discovered the central pain of why you smoke today! You go through the motions and integrate (heal) that side of you that needed to smoke to cope with that situation earlier in life. Now that you have discovered your why’s, it will be a lot easier to let go of that coping mechanism that once held you up. Don’t be surprised if you have an easier time letting go of other impulsive habits as well. Don’t expect changes to happen instantly. I recommend not indulging in any extracurricular habits you may have for a day or two. Meaning if you tend to drink alcohol on the weekends, I recommend not doing it after you make an emotion break-through.
If your able to do it once, discover another habit you’re impulsive over and dive in again! Doing this one step at a time will gain you insight, and more personal change than you thought possible.
I recommend the method I’ve been using for years now. The Completion Process, by Teal Swan. This book changed everything I know about emotional healing. I think it can help you too.