Addiction and The Pendulum in the Counselling Process
One form of Attraction to Hurt is addiction. Rather than look at the original feelings of abandonment from childhood perhaps, it is common to fall into filling the void or the “hole” with alcohol food or drugs, anything rather than feel the painful feelings of abandonment and loneliness.
“By being in your mind and constantly thinking about eating or not eating, you can distract yourself from your feelings” (Healing the Shame that binds you”p.133).
Thoughts and mental activity are potentially addictive. Obsessing, going over and over something, is part of the addictive cycle, ruminating in a compulsive way.
We can become addicted to abstract thinking. It can keep us from the pain that is lurking underneath. It can be a welcome distraction to mull over and over a thought or an incident rather than looking at what is really going on. It can feel easier in the short term to keep the reality of the true pain or damage under the surface, but it will come out in the end. Unfortunately ruminating can also be rather torturous and incessant in combination with the intolerable high of the pendulum. Intrusive and unwelcome.
We can become addicted to excitement, compelled to get the next high of the pendulum, caught in a cycle of excited misery. The thrill and the energy rush towards the high prevents us from having full awareness of where we are and what we are doing. We lose sight of the middle area of the Pendulum, the Calm.
Big Pendulum Swings will invariably take us into an intolerable high which can be very difficult to come out of. It is compulsive, addictive and a form of attraction to hurt. It can be at the root of affairs, gambling, it can lead to divorce, leaving a person wondering and unsure quite how they got there. We feel as if we have 100% clarity but it is only of 10% of the picture. Pendulum swings can be brought on by referrals or memory triggers, being too emotionally engaged, emotionally reacting. We need emotional distance to get into the calm of the pendulum. “Our true strength, our real health, and our genuine awareness is to be found in the calm” (CT Manual 13-5).
The Pendulum can cause the manufacture of unnecessary problems through emotional swings. When in the Low we feel negative and will look and will most certainly find evidence to prove that all is negative and bleak in our world. We sabotage help. This is a form of Attraction to Hurt. We try to pull others into our low and they can easily get pulled in if unaware of the concept of process over content. In other words the person is in the low, their process. This is a warning sign to the therapist or other person. Warning, do not get pulled into the content, the detail of what they are saying, hold an awareness of the process which is the low of the pendulum.
‘The Pendulum’ © Peter Fleming, Founder of The Pellin Institute.