By Scott Kiloby
The more we study addiction, we are learning that at the very basic levels it is driven by trauma. It’s important to understand that “trauma” is not what we are left with after going down a checklist of “really bad” events. Trauma is not even really what happens to us. It is what we TELL ourselves about what happens to us.
Through our life experiences, we develop these basic “deficiency stories” as a result of our experienced trauma- “I am not good enough.” “I’m not safe.” “I’m alone.” “I’m hopeless”- the list goes on. These stories become embedded and buried and serve, at first, to reduce harm for us in a certain respect. They keep us from feeling the full brunt–the full emotional and somatic impact– that these experiences bring, because at their formation we are usually just small children. Our egos needed to devise a way to “protect” us. The trouble is, we begin to believe that the stories are true, and that leaves us searching for another way to cope or self-soothe.
Many of our treatment centers and recovery programs are still operating under what we refer to at the Kiloby Center as an “old model” of recovery that actually reinforces these deficiency stories within us. The old model teaches us that these identities keep us safe–keep us from using. What we are beginning to see is that those identities in fact contribute to our suffering and feed the cycle. Addiction treatment and recovery is considered “behavioral health.” The focus of these old model centers and programs is often on changing the outward behaviors rather than helping us heal these inner core stories and emotional wounds. We try to accomplish this by setting up the treatment center, or clinician, or recovery program as the authority in a person’s life, demanding unrealistic expectations, judging, punishing and even controlling a person’s life and behaviors. When we focus only on changing the behavior, we are missing the mark.
At the Kiloby Center for Recovery we are changing the paradigm. We are employing a “new model” based on unconditional love and acceptance. Our motto is “We want what you want.” With this model, we do not impose belief systems on clients. We do not control the lives of clients. We do not demand unquestioned commitment to our authority. When clients demonstrate unhealthy behaviors, we focus on helping the clients resolve the underlying psychological and emotional issues driving the behaviors, instead of swiftly bringing down the hammer of judgment and punishment. If someone relapses, but is still willing to pick themselves up and try again, they are met with unconditional love and acceptance. The staff members at our center are required to do their own inner work. Anytime they feel compelled to control, judge, or punish a client out of anxiety or anger, they are required to take a look and resolve the underlying emotional and psychological issues driving that compulsion, before they address the client.
Clients, after a relapse or after exhibiting unhealthy behaviors, are often pleasantly surprised when we tell them that we are not mad or upset and that we love them. The entire paradigm is based on this motto of “We want what you want.” So if a client wants to do our work, we want that for them. If they don’t want to do our work, we help them find a center or program that resonates more with the client. Our entire program is built on helping clients dissolve the deficiency stories that have been driving their addictions. We are not focused on client’s behaviors. We are focused on the psychological and emotional healing of the issues underlying those behaviors. We believe that the focus on this inner work truly changes lives for the better in the long run.
Our approach to this sort of inner work starts with “natural rest”–noticing the string of mental images, words, bodily energies, emotions, and sensations from awareness. From that foundation, we are able to facilitate those we work with through specific tools we have developed that utilize a mindfulness-based practice of self-inquiry. These tools allow us to effectively break the “velcro” holding together those deficiency stories, words, and pictures with what is happening somatically. This release allows us to be present with what’s in the body without the story that has been attached to it for so long. This is the new model of recovery–dismantling the drivers of our addiction and pain, by walking directly into them and allowing them to be felt, and ultimately released.
Scott Kiloby, a former attorney, is an author and international speaker on mindfulness and addiction recovery. He is founder and director of the Kiloby Center for Recovery.
A Radical Approach to Addiction Recovery Through Mindfulness & Inquiry
One-day program with Scott Kiloby
Saturday, May 4, 2019, 10:00 am – 5:30 pm
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