In a previous article I showed how addictions, despite their negative long-term effects on health and wellbeing, carry the potential to help us discover and express parts of ourselves that we had suppressed.
As a child I was disciplined by my parents for being ‘loud’ and ‘naughty’, so I leaned to suppress experiences of excitement and playfulness. I adopted a quiet, reserved, studious and almost without needs ‘good boy’ identity.
I would however feel great around my grandparents, especially after having spent a few days with them, away from home. Their love had the power to magically transform me into a confident and playful kid. Similarly, by using alcohol and drugs we attempt to change the way they feel about ourselves, by numbing painful experiences of ourselves and/or accessing positive ones.
The Person-Centred therapist aims to offer a similar relational climate of safety, based on genuine acceptance and understanding of the client’s experiencing, in order to support them to discover and accept more of themselves. Therapy helped me to acknowledge and address my difficulties and to realise that it is safe, appropriate and rewarding to be alone or sociable, playful or serious, excited or quiet, angry or loving, sad or ecstatically happy. I didn’t have to deny or distort my experience and therefore feel anxious, unsatisfied and in need of some addictive behaviour to alter my perception of myself and the world. There are many ways to explore and expand our consciousness in non-toxic, highly rewarding and long-lasting ways that add meaning and pleasure to life.