THE BLOG
09/30/2015 10:55 am ET Updated Sep 29, 2016

What's Your Addiction?

I hadn't eaten for 25 hours. Though not a religious person, I'd say I'm very spiritual. It was Yom Kippur, so in the spirit of tradition and self-reflection, I fasted and prayed from the comfort of my home while streaming services from Central Synagogue in New York, and Beit T'Shuva in Venice, CA. The former, elegant and traditional, the latter raw and not so traditional... both quite moving in different ways. Since I was also at the "I'll try anything at this point" point to shake things up, I spent much of the day reflecting on what I was sorry for, what I was grateful for and what I was hoping for in the coming year.

As the sun finally set, I set out to eat. As I moved my phone to make room for my very full dinner plate, my iPhone spoke without being spoken to and said, "Sorry Nancy, I didn't quite get that."

"Excuse me, what now?" I exclaimed aloud. "I hope this isn't a direct response from iGod on the cloud in regard to my prayers of the day." Oy, now I was talking to myself. Perhaps too much alone time, I feared.

I needed food. As I began to nourish my taste buds and body, my soul continued to contemplate some of what it had been fed that day. There was so much to chew on. So much so in fact that it will definitely require further discussion and future posts. For now, I shall describe the everlasting taste in my mouth from Beit T'Shuva...

"F-You!" the Rabbi yelled. I had heard that this congregation was unique, but this was a first. I turned up the volume on my laptop when the Rabbi clarified and said, "Forgive YOU!"

Ah! I got it. With the spirit of the holiday being about asking God and people we may have hurt for forgiveness, the Rabbi's message as I heard it, is that there is one very important person we should not forget to forgive: Ourselves.

Beit T'Shuva's mission is to guide individuals and families towards a path of living well, so that wrestling souls can recover from addiction and learn how to properly heal.

This got me thinking about addiction. Dictionary.com says: The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

I'm thinking that we can be addicted to things other than narcotics, alcohol, or tobacco. For instance, how many of us are addicted to negative thinking, dysfunctional relationships, self-sabotage, perfection, living in fear, or self-doubts and limiting beliefs? How many are addicted to bitterness, anger, or being a victim to our circumstances?

What if we were to use some of the steps of recovery for substance abuse addiction to assist us with self-sabotaging thinking patterns and behaviors? Including for instance,

• Admitting you have a problem
• Having faith and hope
• Giving your issues to a higher power
• Admitting your faults, past errors and receive support
• Accepting that it's time to make a change
• Focusing on healing by prayer, meditation, hope &faith
• Considering making amends
• Taking responsibility for your actions
• Giving back to the community

Do you think that implementing some or all of these steps for whatever our personal demons may be, would help us to lead healthier, more joyful, productive, fulfilling lives? Might that in turn create a community in which we support each other, resulting in a more compassionate world?

It's all about steps. Whether they are the well known 12 steps, a variation on that theme, or making the effort to take steps forward to where we want to be; it's all about steps. We are all a work in progress, and need to allow ourselves to sometimes stumble or fall as we are making strides. Sometimes we may even take a couple steps back, but we need to be able to forgive ourselves along the way. And if you ever forget this important aspect in your journey, just remember, as the Rabbi so enthusiastically said....

"F-You!"

Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.