“No problem can be solved by the same level of consciousness that created it” (Albert Einstein). Emotional addiction is a central process in consciousness. We are hyper-alert to an emotional siren that will set us off toward more seeking, more manipulation of our exaggerated needs. If Albert is correct, it follows that a raised consciousness is necessary to recovery. I am simply calling it transformation.
Life is a series of transformations. Many theorists have created maps of human development with anywhere from two to ten stages. Moving from one stage to another is a transformation. The childhood stages happen almost automatically, propelled by biology and the care of families. By adulthood (some would say adolescence) transformation becomes more intentional, requiring more support from the culture and contact with the natural world. It relies on self-emptying, which lets something new get in.
Ken Wilber describes a 1-2-3 process of transformation.¹ The first step, fusion, is where you are at now – your current worldview. A better way of relating to everything is enfolded within you, but you are not conscious of it. Next comes differentiation, the unfolding. It sounds pretty but it feels more like falling apart, even dying. Yet in the process you glimpse something new, a taste of the next stage. It is, by definition, an expanded view – more tolerant, more plurality. Finally, there is integration, where you put yourself back together and regain stability.
An important concept in Wilber’s psychology is that the new stage does not replace, but instead integrates the previous stage. The old self is not rejected. It is part of something bigger.
Ken Keyes gives us one of these maps which anticipate where we are going. He describes seven “centers” of consciousness.² The first three are the addictive centers of unhappiness: security, sensation and power. The next two are in the recovery zone and the last two are transcendent. Let’s consider the recovery centers.
Transformation also requires a practice. The essential practice in the crossover from emotional addiction to recovery is to “uplevel” your supposed need for satisfaction into a preference. More optional than a need or even a desire. We can prefer lots of things. No limit, really. When something else arrives we can accept it if we only preferred it. Your tolerance for the objective environment and subjective experience increases.
To go further, you realize that everybody else is also struggling with or driven by their emotional addictions. They do not act for the purpose of thwarting your happiness. You do not need to change them, though you would prefer their own recovery.
In this center, you have everything you need. It is a world of abundance (“cornucopia” means “horn of plenty”) instead of a world of scarcity. Your standard reaction to anything is either, “It’s OK,” or, “It’s enough.” This center of conscious stands in contradiction to the addictive attitude, which says, “It’s never enough.”
Even life’s challenges and provocations are giving you what you need – the opportunity to practice your recovery.
- Wilber, Ken. The spectrum of consciousness. Quest Books, 1993.
- Keyes, Ken. Handbook to Higher Consciousness. Berkeley, Calif: Living Love Center, 1975.