temperance and abstainance

temperance and abstainance

Temperance is extensively discussed in ancient wisdom traditions such as yoga and stoicism, highlighting its importance as a fundamental aspect of any lifestyle program. Addictive behaviors have existed since the dawn of humanity, stemming from our ability to make choices as free-willed thinkers, unlike other creatures whose actions are governed by instinctual responses dictated by genetic predispositions and natural structures.

Addiction can be viewed as a misguided coping mechanism resulting from the law of cause and effect. Comparing addictive patterns to instinctive behaviors, both are beyond the control of the creatures experiencing them. Just as animals cannot control their instinctual impulses, humans cannot entirely control the impulses driving addictive patterns.

The addictive tendencies of humans are influenced by external factors such as their upbringing, including parental influences, siblings, other family members, school systems, friends, and the broader energies that shape their thinking.

However, as humans mature and gain intellectual understanding of their behaviors, they can unlearn addictive patterns. By becoming aware of their programming and actively disrupting it, humans have the capacity to exercise their free will and intelligence to overcome addiction.

Temperance and abstinence are essential skills for human development. It is crucial to cultivate temperance in relation to substances or behaviors that can lead to addiction, such as eating, sex, spending, and work. Disciplined abstinence from recreational drugs, tobacco, thrill-seeking, gambling, overeating, consuming junk food, and, of course, alcohol is necessary. Even for those who do not identify with having an addiction to any of these substances or behaviors, it is still advisable to avoid them due to their lack of nutritional, social, spiritual, physical, and intellectual value for both oneself and the world at large. The risk of becoming addicted to these substances or behaviors outweighs any momentary euphoric reward they may offer.

True maturity and growth can be measured by observing how individuals respond to stress and anxiety. Engaging in activities such as breathing exercises, exercise, fostering positive relationships, talk therapy, gardening, sports, helping others, reading, or simply taking a walk demonstrates a mature mindset. In contrast, relying on substances that gradually degrade and harm critical organs reflects a lack of maturity. Developing a mature mind entails understanding one's addictive triggers and their causes while disciplining oneself to respond differently.

Temperance and abstinence serve as significant indicators of personal progress.

Today, as I woke up, I prioritized positive actions for myself. I started my day with 20 pushups, followed by three minutes of breathing exercises, and then wrote this piece. This behavioral pattern has proven effective for me in beginning the day on a hopeful note.

It took me a long time to develop these patterns because I remained complacent in my recovery for years. Although I maintained abstinence from drugs and alcohol, I neglected to establish a connection with the tools I now utilize. Consequently, my anxieties continued to influence my thinking patterns and reactions.

It took decades for me to realize that I had experienced anxiety since a young age, around 6-7 years old. By the time I reached 12-13 years old, I was spiraling down the path of addiction, engaging in smoking and acting out. At 14-15, I began using drugs and alcohol. I found sobriety through Alcoholics Anonymous at 15 and a half years old.

Following my sobriety, I quickly developed a new addiction to overeating, but I promptly abandoned that habit and replaced it with compulsive negative self-thinking. Self-obsession and self-hatred became prevalent thinking patterns. In my twenties, I became addicted to work, making money, exercising excessively, and socializing at parties to evade feelings of loneliness. I struggled with relationships and the obsessive thinking they triggered within me.

Throughout my twenties and into my mid forties, my primary addictions revolved around work, adrenaline sports, and tumultuous relationships. I never hit rock bottom with these behaviors; instead, I gradually became aware of their detrimental effects. Through the disciplines I now follow, I mustered the strength to moderate my behaviors and find a sense of balance.

Anxiety is a natural response for humans and many other creatures. It serves as a vital early warning system, alerting us to potential dangers or motivating us to engage fully in our lives. However, chronic anxiety arises from disordered and dysfunctional thinking, as well as dysfunctional belief systems. To overcome chronic anxiety, we must unlearn old patterns and replace them with new knowledge and behaviors that address the root causes of our anxiety rather than merely suppressing symptoms.

Today, I am acutely aware of the factors that trigger my anxiety:

  1. Fear of financial insecurity.
  2. Situations within my family, such as conflicts between my wife and/or my wife and my daughter from a previous relationship.
  3. Lingering anxiety patterns stemming from earlier experiences that remain unresolved.
  4. A fear of failure and the pressure to accomplish extraordinary feats in my life.

I acknowledge that my addictive reactions include excessive work, writing, seeking distractions, relying on smartphones, and a few other habits I am not yet ready to let go of, albeit with a lighthearted sense of humor.

To address these challenges, I have implemented various solutions:

- Engaging in daily deep breathing exercises.

- Incorporating regular exercise and movement into my routine.

- Seeking therapy and open communication with others.

- Offering support and love to the people close to me.

- Practicing organizational skills to stay focused.

- Embracing prayer and reading materials that explore philosophy, science, and self-help.

- Finding solace in helping others and engaging in activities that foster positive distractions.

- Employing practiced techniques that bypass negative thoughts, minimizing their impact and preventing needless anxiety.

By actively pursuing these strategies, I strive to rewrite my behavioral patterns and transform my mindset. Through consistent effort and a commitment to self-improvement, I am confident that I can overcome the grips of addiction and anxiety, enabling personal growth and a more fulfilling life.

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