Often I hear from men who are struggling in an area of their lives, and they tell of these challenges as undeserved, unpredictable and mysterious.
They may describe everyday life in terms of their own innocence, or with a semblance of stalwart courage in the face of what seems like “the unfairness of it all.”
It could be a problem with a relationship, and that’s fairly common. More typically it involves the difficulty of adhering to good daily habits, or of gloomy thoughts undermining their good intentions.
One man it’s a purposeful life, another his lack of exercise, still another is eating shit food and reaches for candy and desserts. Another speaks of the futility of it all, or of finding little or no reward for their hard work.
None of them make the connection.If you read me you know that I discovered some years ago that ALL addiction is an addiction to fear.
All addictions have an effect on heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and by engaging in drug, alcohol, food, porn, gambling and yes, even vape addiction, we compulsively take “another hit” to boost the fear state.
This allows us to “narrow focus” and momentarily relieve stress.
How? Well despite the physiological fear state created by any addictive behaviour mentioned, all of them allow you to take many thoughts and turn them into fewer or different thoughts… and this is where temporary relief is found.
This is what fear is supposed to do: when in danger, it narrows focus so you can attend to things important to staying alive in the circumstances.
Only there’s a problem: repeatedly relying on any of these things to change your thinking creates a nervous system which seeks more and more fear to achieve the same temporary relief.
Soon the odd hit of the vape pen is replaced with more numerous hits on the pipe. That’s basic habituation.
And since you believe you are not or only mildly addicted, you can spread your risk around too.
Instead of opting for MORE vaping, at higher doses, you can use porn, food, gambling, or your miserable existence with its accompanying regret and loss of faith in the future instead.
While not your preferred addiction, they’ll do in a pinch.
That way you can tell yourself “See! I’m not vaping as much!”
Or, “at least I’m not smoking cannabis” or drinking alcohol or shooting heroin…
How we lie to ourselves…
And some men cannot see that their fear seeking is what lies at the root of their negative affect, because they have inadvertently trained their body to crave fear, to want to be in a physiologically aroused state and it’s what is normal to them.
Some men go and pick fights with a partner or coworker. Others allow themselves to be drawn into fight with feminists on the internet. Been there, done that… last week in fact.
I have clients who went offline for months during the last presidential election.
It’s fear seeking.
And until you call it out, you will be run by it, possibly forevermore.
Let’s get a few basics understood: You are run by your nervous system and conscious awareness is along for the ride.
If you feel something today, you have felt it before. The brain is predictive, not reactive.
It works on hypothesis.
It takes in information from your environment through the senses (eight of them) and adds that to the body internal state (hungry? get a good night’s sleep? allergies? hydrated? etc.).
This interoception creates affect (comfort/discomfort, aroused/relaxed) which is sent up through the brain stem to the periaqueductal gray and the brain.
There the brain uses your databank of prior experiences and formed concepts to come up with a prediction, which is then confirmed or denied by the social reality before you.
The nervous system is trained by experience. Humans are 50% internal and 50% relational beings. Most men who are fear seekers learned to be this way a long time ago.
So… men who work with me intensively for a few months inevitably get to the bottom of all this. My track record on this one is unparalleled, mostly thanks to the motivated men whom I have worked with and who helped me discover these deeper processes.
Those who don’t work with me sometimes resolve their addiction by taking the Taming Shame course and joining the 10M Men’s Boards, or from reading my book (SIPPING FEAR PISSING CONFIDENCE) and making the necessary changes. I salute you muthas,… for your courage, your intelligence and your resolve.
It’s no substitute for the real thing… but pretty good. Because the odds are against you. Let me explain. Your integrated nervous system acts as your O/S and receives regular updates when you are a kid which slow as you age. It’s also known as your ego.
The ego denies, distorts and represses inner and/or outer reality to lessen anxiety and depression.
This operating system works well, until it doesn’t. We should recognize that the ego gives less fucks about your long-term plans or identity and is wired directly to your order lower nervous system.
After all, the ego is about preventing anxiety and depression, both conditions of the future felt in the body (I call anxiety a temporary loss of faith in the future, for example, and we have already established that feelings start with interoception).
In fact, most of your thoughts emanate from your body and it’s easy to see how the ego filters for less anxiety or depression and is fine with more addiction. It’s doing its job.
Of course, addictions kill people. The physical ramifications alone make them deadly. And it’s not just food, or drugs and booze.
I have worked with young men who have lost half a million gambling and become suicide risks. The shame of porn can be a contributing factor.
But addictions also kill the spirit, and the spirit speaks for the soul. How so? Addictions kill confidence. Sheer displacement (edging out one thing for another) does that. You can’t have it both ways.
And confidence is your juice. Life is painful without confidence, so it deserves defending.
What if every craving you feel is really your spirit making you uncomfortable… so that you will manifest your most powerful life?
If your idea of spirit is of a ghost blowing smoke up your ass that may be the problem. For the truth is that when necessary the spirit will drag you painfully through the mire to get your attention.
And you will either make your suffering pay by becoming something more… or succumb to your discomfort and reach for temporary relief. This is where the normally wise ego becomes your enemy.
This will largely determine what kind of man you will be. And how your life will turn out since your life satisfaction is directly related to how much uncertainty and variety you can tolerate.
So, you must use your malaise as a signal and decide one of these: to retreat… or push through resistance to a new you.
And leave the scape goat vape goat bullshit behind.
They are for lesser men.
true and free
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