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The Different Facets of Addiction with Lisa Dion

In this Conscious Conversation, we will be exploring the different facets of addiction with Lisa Dion. Lisa is a highly sought after international teacher, consultant and entrepreneur. Her training and understanding of how the mind and a person’s biology drive human behavior allows her to offer a unique perspective on how to maximize your potential and develop a greater appreciation for yourself and the people in your life.

Visit her: https://lisa-dion.com/


CONVERSATION HIGHLIGHTS:

  • “An addiction is a strategy that gives a person permission to try to live according their highest values.”
  • “There’s so much judgement and there are so many opinions about an addiction, most of them being negative opinions that I thought that it would be important for us to explore what they really are and really the brilliance of them and really self-reflect and look at the wisdom of addiction.”
  • “Anything that we are doing a lot of we might actually think of putting the word addiction attached to it. And, what I have found is that often times when we are engaging in those behaviours it’s actually in those moments we give ourselves permission to do what we love. When we’re not engaging in those, often times we have fears and we have things that are happening to us internally that are not … that are really blocking us from stepping forward, doing what we love, engaging in what we might call our highest values.

    What I see is that the addiction is a strategy … when we are engaged in that activity we give ourselves permission to attempt to do the things that are most meaningful to us.”

  • “I have found repeatedly with my clients that are engaging in addictive behaviors is that when they are engaging in that behavior, when we start looking deeper, asking the questions: what are you getting out of this, how is it serving you, how is this benefiting you?

    What we start to uncover is that it really is a strategy to help them, I’m even going to use different language, help them sync up … help them sync up, sync up to their authentic self.”

  • “So, when I think about … if I’ve had a challenging experience in my life and I haven’t figured out how to integrate the perceived pain of that experience and therefore I engage in an addictive strategy to avoid the pain or to help me deal with the pain.

    Culture, in general, tends to look at that as dysfunction and tends to look at that as a bad thing, but from my perspective, that is health happening. That is the mind and the body very brilliantly doing what it perceives it needs to do to handle whatever it was that was experienced until the individual is able to come up with another strategy to be able to integrate whatever it was that they perceived.”

  • “I think it’s really important to look at the feedback of the body, to look at what is happening in the body.

    Are we having higher levels of everything from what may seem like illness and disease surfacing to symptoms of the body wanting to shut down and numb down to symptoms in the body of feeling more hyper-aroused, anxious or manic or overly agitated or excited.

    All of those are feedback mechanisms in the nervous system that are pointing to, we’re not doing something in the moment that is feeling deeply, deeply inspiring and congruent because when we are having a moment of feeling deeply, deeply authentic, inspired and connected those are not the symptoms that get displayed in the body. The symptoms that get displayed in the body are a sense of poise and a sense of deep grounding in the body, heart opening, a sense of clarity and vibrancy that fills the body. Not symptoms of what I would call dysregulation of the nervous system.”

  • “For me, how it showed up, was being addicted to the addict. So, I have found myself in relationships over my life, whether it was with my parents and their processes or relationships beyond that, romantic relationships and I had developed a pattern of finding the person that was engaging in an addictive pattern. So, my addiction was actually my codependency and my addiction to wanting to help the addict.”
  • “So, I’m always going to have a strategy to help me live the most fulfilling life that I can, but I think the difference is that the more authentic and meaning and inspiration that I have in my life, I’m now going to have a higher probability of employing strategies that I am consciously creating and strategically planning to help me on that path versus defaulting to strategies that are more addictive meaning there’s more pleasure, pain, avoidance, those types of cycles to help me out.”
  • “If the mind can’t figure out another way to achieve the same outcome, it’s going to keep defaulting to its current strategy. If alcohol or social media or the relationship or eating a lot … whatever it is … is the current strategy, they’ll keep defaulting to that.”
  • “When we feel really deeply fulfilled and connected and it’s not just connected to life, I just go back to the body, also we feel connected to ourselves in our physical body as well. There’s not a lot of need to escape that or to try to find alternative strategies to create a meaningful life because you are already in the meaningful life.

    You’re already there and the more that we can embrace that and honestly announce to the world, this is me, this is me, this is what I stand for and be willing to, to take on the challenges and to face the fears that go along with that … I do think that these strategies that we employ, diminish drastically over time.”

  • “The more we can help our kids access what they love and the more we can help our kids develop a relationship and connection with their bodies so they can begin to understand the feedback that they will be getting along the way throughout their journey.

    The combination of those two things are probably two of the most important things that we can offer our kids on their life path to help them discover what’s most meaningful for them, whether we agree with it or not.”

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Transcript

OSMARA: Welcome to Calm With Yoga.

In this Conscious Conversation, we will be exploring the different facets of addiction with Lisa Dion. Lisa is a highly sought after international teacher, consultant and entrepreneur. Her training and understanding of how the mind and a person’s biology drive human behavior allows her to offer a unique perspective on how to maximize your potential and develop a greater appreciation for yourself and the people in your life.

With extensive training and somatic therapies, trauma protocols and the Demartini method, Lisa has developed a love for complex issues such as addiction, anxiety, depression, psychosis and traumatic experiences. Through her cutting edge approach she’s been given the ability to reach the needs of Fortune 500 leaders and out of control 3-year-olds, all in the same day.

“An addiction is a strategy that gives a person permission to try to live according their highest values.”

Very interesting statement, today on the show I Have Lisa Dion and we are going to be talking about all of the facets of addiction. Welcome, Lisa. How are you?

LISA: I am well, thank you for having me.

 

OSMARA: A pleasure, a pleasure. So, that’s a statement. It gets you really thinking about it. What exactly do you really mean by that?

LISA: It is and I wanted to put that out there right at the beginning because I think addictions are so misunderstood. There’s so much judgment and there are so many opinions about an addiction, most of them being negative opinions that I thought that it would be important for us to explore what they really are and really the brilliance of them and really self-reflect and look at the wisdom of addiction. So, that’s really a different spin.

OSMARA: I really like that. It’s a paradigm shift.

LISA: It is a paradigm shift. So, what I meant in that quote … so, I’ll share a little bit about where that came from. So, I’ve been working with addictions for many, many years. My clientele ranges from little kids on up to adults and then also in my own family, I grew up in a family where additions were part of our family system and so I feel I’ve been in the addiction world for a really, really long time and so the idea of what is an addiction, how does it get developed, what is really going on has been a question that’s been really near and dear to my heart.

And, what I have really seen is that when someone is engaging in an addictive process, and let me be clear when I say addictive process, that can be anything from what we typically think of as drinking a lot, using drugs, to using pornography, to gambling. The typical things we think of. To other things like social media addictions, or to eating, exercise, that’s one we don’t normally think of a lot, having an addiction to exercising a lot.

Anything that we are doing a lot of we might actually think of putting the word addiction attached to it. And, what I have found is that often times when we are engaging in those behaviors it’s actually in those moments we give ourselves permission to do what we love. When we’re not engaging in those, often times we have fears and we have things that are happening to us internally that are not … that is really blocking us from stepping forward, doing what we love, engaging in what we might call our highest values.

What I see is that the addiction is a strategy … when we are engaged in that activity we give ourselves permission to attempt to do the things that are most meaningful to us.

OSMARA: Hm, that is a different perspective. I like it. Can you expand on it a little bit more?

LISA: Sure, how about some examples just to bring us to life a little bit?

OSMARA: Yes, that would be great.

LISA: So, one client comes to mind. So, this is an individual who he was an individual in his early 30’s, recently married for a couple years and every day at 5 o’clock he would go to the bar and this became a bit of a challenge in his marriage. His wife did not like him going to the bar every day at 5 o’clock, but that’s what he did, that became his pattern. He would go to the bar and he would drive at 5. He’d be home by 7, but it was a daily thing to go to the bar.

He came to do some work because he was also perceiving that it was creating conflict in other areas of his life and he was concerned that it was an addictive pattern. When we started to explore what was happening when he was at the bar, what was really interesting was he was walking in the bar carrying an armful of books and he would find his place at the bar and he would read for two hours. When we delved deeper into what he was reading, he was reading all kinds of spiritual texts, which I thought was fascinating.

So, here is this individual who is going to the bar, who is drinking. He is at the bar drinking for two hours and he’s reading all these spiritual texts. When we looked deeper what we discovered was he didn’t feel like he had permission in his life, wasn’t giving himself permission and didn’t feel like he was receiving permission in his marriage and from the people around him to really embody his spiritual self.

So, that became a bit of a secret. When he would attempt to talk about things that were highly spiritual, when he would try to read his books he perceived that he was made fun of, that he was called names, that he was shut down in many ways, but because it was so meaningful to him, he found a strategy to go and engage in this very, very meaningful thing which was his spiritual study.

But, the thing that was so brilliant about it was the pairing with alcohol was when he was drinking he no longer cared what people thought. He wasn’t worried about what his friends, his wife, his community would think about him reading these spiritual texts and being on this spiritual quest. He didn’t care. He just gave himself permission to read and to study and to delve deep into, into what was really meaningful for him because he wasn’t able to give himself permission otherwise because he was too afraid to confront the messages that were coming at him.

So, that I think is a great example of how, in that case, an addictive behavior was a strategy to give him permission to try to live by what was most important to him.

OSMARA: Okay, so following you along, addictions from this perspective are strategies to help us get to know ourselves better, would that be the saying? Highest value … so let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about … how would you define highest values as what we hold most dear, what’s most important to us, right?

LISA: Absolutely and I take the definition from Dr. John DeMartini, is where I’m taking that definition from and it’s the things in life that we feel most dedicated and inspired towards. So, we’re not talking highest values from the perspective of things like honesty and integrity and we aren’t talking from that perspective. We are talking about the things in life that you dedicate your time and resources and your energy to that feel deeply fulfilling and meaningful … that’s what I’m referring to.

So, another way of thinking about it are your highest priorities. What are you choosing to spend your time on in your life that’s brings deep meaning and deep fulfillment to you … that no one has to make you do it … you just do it because it makes you feel so congruent to who you are. That’s what I’m referring to when I talk about highest values

OSMARA: And so, the strategies are … or the addictions are strategies to meet those … it’s a mechanism that we set forth or how does it … how would you break it down?

LISA: Yeah, so when we’re not giving ourselves permission in our lives to live according to our highest values, what ends up happening is we end up spending our time attempting to be someone that we are not. We start to put our time and energy on things that are actually of low-value to us and as a result, we start to get feedback to let us know that we are not being authentic, we’re not living according to what’s more meaningful.

Now we begin to become susceptible in those states towards addictive patterns and so from that perspective when I’m then engaging in that addictive pattern, there’s something about when I’m engaging in that pattern where all of a sudden I’m giving myself permission to attempt to do the things or think about the things or live according to the things that ultimately my heart is yearning to experience the most.

And so, that’s where the strategy comes in. It’s a “I’m not able to find a way to live outwardly, I’m not finding a way to live according to what’s more meaningful and therefore I have to engage in a strategy to give me permission to do so,” and that’s what I have found repeatedly with my clients that are engaging in addictive behaviors is that when they are engaging in that behavior, when we start looking deeper, asking the questions: what are you getting out of this, how is it serving you, how is this benefiting you?

What we start to uncover is that it really is a strategy to help them, I’m even going to use different language, help them sync up … help them sync up, sync up to their authentic self.

OSMARA: And, I think it’s worth mentioning here that no two people have the same values. It’s a very individual specific, with the meaning that we give things and what we value, is not about, like you were saying, ethics and honor, but also it’s not about injected values which I think is worth mentioning because we live in a society where it’s very easy to get caught up in those foreign injected values.

LISA: Absolutely, yes, yes. The other thing I think since we are talking about patterns with addiction and we are talking about how an addiction is a strategy … the other thing that I think is important for us to explore is it’s also a coping strategy and I think that’s language that’s pretty common for the listeners who would be listening to this.

Look deeper … it’s a coping strategy for what? Often times, again back to a strategy, it’s a strategy to help create ways to handle or integrate or deal with challenges that we’ve had in life that we haven’t yet figured out how to integrate.

So, I think that’s also to note that it’s part of it, but from that perspective, for me, that’s also health. So, when I think about … if I’ve had a challenging experience in my life and I haven’t figured out how to integrate the perceived pain of that experience and therefore I engage in an addictive strategy to avoid the pain or to help me deal with the pain.

Culture, in general, tends to look at that as dysfunction and tends to look at that as a bad thing, but from my perspective, that is health happening. That is the mind and the body very brilliantly doing what it perceives it needs to do to handle whatever it was that was experienced until the individual is able to come up with another strategy to be able to integrate whatever it was that they perceived.

OSMARA:
That’s really powerful because that’s coming from the perspective that things are not in the way, but on the way.

LISA: Absolutely, absolutely.

OSMARA: I had Dr. Kim Jobst here on the show and we talked about his theory of Meaning of Disease and it’s very similar in the sense that disease is a feedback mechanism trying to get us to come back to that wholeness, to come back to that point of knowing ourselves and honoring ourselves and to look at what we weren’t looking at before or what we didn’t want to look at. So in that sense, our addictions would be pointing and leaving clues, correct?

LISA: Absolutely, 100%. And, I would even say that part of where the clues are, so for listeners who are becoming curious about addictions, whether they have an addictive pattern going on in their life or they’re in a relationship with someone who has an addictive pattern going on. The clues are in the body … I mean, really for me. I think it’s really important to look at the feedback of the body, to look at what is happening in the body.

Are we having higher levels of everything from what may seem like illness and disease surfacing to symptoms of the body wanting to shut down and numb down to symptoms in the body of feeling more hyper-aroused, anxious or manic or overly agitated or excited.

All of those are feedback mechanisms in the nervous system that are pointing to, we’re not doing something in the moment that is feeling deeply, deeply inspiring and congruent because when we are having a moment of feeling deeply, deeply authentic, inspired and connected those are not the symptoms that get displayed in the body. The symptoms that get displayed in the body are a sense of poise and a sense of deep grounding in the body, heart opening, a sense of clarity and vibrancy that fills the body. Not symptoms of what I would call dysregulation of the nervous system.

So, I think it’s important that we also look at feedback to let us know: “hey are we really being authentic and congruent or not?” because in those states we are more susceptible to engaging in the addictive strategies.

OSMARA: I love that. So, anxiety/stress all of that is a feedback … it’s not … because we tend to feel stress or anxiety or dread or fear or whatever and we try to nip it in the bud. We try to just stop it, eradicate it, and how beautiful, it’s actually trying to tell us something.

LISA: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think it’s wise for us to learn about our own bodies and to understand what our bodies are trying to tell us. I’ll add another piece in … I just find this topic so fascinating and I find the clients that I work with who are engaging in these patterns, they’re so brilliant and their bodies are so brilliant and often times when we look deeply one of the things that is trying to surface for them is a connection with their body.

So, when they are engaging in these addictive processes, the symptoms of the body … we could call it, they do flare up — they get louder, they try to catch the individual’s attention. Again, I said the addiction was a strategy to try to live according to the highest values and even though there may be moments where they are like in the example I gave about the individual who goes to the bar … even though in those two hours he was living according to what was most important to him, he wasn’t doing it in a way that felt incredibly fulfilling to him and he wasn’t able to do it on an ongoing basis in his life — it was still a secret.

And so, there are still fears attached to it and he’s still getting all types of feedback in his body to say: “hey, what do you need to do to step into life more fully? What do you need to do to give yourself permission to walk around with your books in the world? To announce to the world – Hey, I love my spiritual quest, I love studying comparative religions, I love it and this is who I am!”

He wasn’t there yet and he was still getting feedback in the body and it was still showing up in the form of anxiety, not being able to sleep, having different issues in the skin arise, even down to feeling depressed, numbing out, feeling heavy and lethargic. All of that is his brilliant body working on his behalf to give his psyche feedback to say, “Hey buddy step into yourself fully, let yourself really show up and be yourself in this world because there’s something deeply meaningful and fulfilling for you and you’re going to do it no matter what even if it means engaging in an addictive strategy.” So, find a way to step into it in a way that feels deeply fulfilling and meaningful.

OSMARA: That’s great. That’s great. Another thing about anxiety when you think about it in terms of survival mode versus creation mode … when we are in anxiety we are operating from that more primitive reaction state where the outside is dictating what is happening on the inside more than the inside dictating what’s happening on the outside.

You were saying that the feedback to when we are more congruently living inside what we hold most true and dear to us, what we find most inspiring, we tend to be in this
space of calm, knowing, what they would call equanimity or a space of balance. When we are in that space we are operating from higher levels of the brain We are operating
from that observer and choice instead of the reaction.

Which is … if you look at the part of the brain, the reward system of the brain that goes a little haywire when addiction is present … here is where I want to just stop for a second because like you said earlier, addiction isn’t just about drugs and sex and alcohol and the usual, but addiction can be very, very subtle in terms of can you put your phone down, maybe you’re addicted to a person or maybe you’re addicted to a certain way of being or emotion. Those can be a little more sneaky because they’re not as apparent.

LISA: Definitely, absolutely. I can share a personal story with that, just as far as sneaky goes. So, I, in my life, I haven’t had the classic addiction if you will. I haven’t struggled with alcohol, or drugs or things like that, however, being around a lot of addicts one of the things that is important for all of us is that we stop and we reflect and really own where our own version of addiction is because everyone has an addiction and again some of them, like you said, are obvious according to societal terms and for others it’s a bit more subtle and they’re a little more socially acceptable so we tend to not view it as an addiction.

If we’re going off the definition that when we’re not feeling fulfilled or we’re not giving ourselves permission to fully step into life, to do what we love, we will become susceptible to engage in a strategy and in those strategies we will give ourselves permission, but often times those strategies, yes they’re brilliant and yes they’re healthy and it’s a very wise part of the design of human behavior … at the end of the day they don’t actually register as deeply, deeply fulfilling.

I think that is a piece that we really want to look at. For me, how it showed up, was being addicted to the addict. So, I have found myself in relationships over my life, whether it was with my parents and their processes or relationships beyond that, romantic relationships and I had developed a pattern of finding the person that was engaging in an addictive pattern.

So, my addiction was actually my codependency and my addiction to wanting to help the addict. What I found was that when I wasn’t feeling really deeply fulfilled in my life, when I wasn’t going for it, I then would become susceptible to, oh no, I want to help, I want to help my … the person that is struggling with the addiction. That became my way of dealing with the fact that I wasn’t stepping fully into my power, into my authenticity.

Now, I can also look at it as the strategies so when I was engaging in that addictive process, what was I learned? What was I doing that was part of my highest value and it was teaching.

So, as I was working with the individuals in my relationship or as I was wrapped up in relationship where there was addiction going on, I found myself wanting to become the teacher in those relationships, wanting to educate my partner, wanting to help my partner, wanting to be of service to my partner and that’s actually my highest value.

My highest value is being a teacher and so because I wasn’t fully stepping into my full potential as a teacher in my life, I developed a strategy or a way to become a teacher in my relationships, if that makes sense. So, I was still attempting to do what I love, but again it was a bit of a sideshow if you will. It was a sideshow strategy on the side because I wasn’t feeling deeply fulfilling, deeply fulfilled in my life.

I can tell you that over the last many years as I have stepped into my power as a teacher, my attraction to relationships where there’s addiction has changed and that is no longer my pattern because I have now stepped fully into, I can own myself as a teacher, I don’t need to run or hide from my message or from my expression of a teacher in this world. Therefore, I am not needing that particular strategy to help me out.

OSMARA: That is really important what you just said because it takes a little digging, you know, and really looking at it to see that kind of insight that you had about, oh I’m running this pattern, but it’s still a strategy trying to lead me towards what I hold most dear.

We spoke about this a few times before, but I also came from a family dynamic where I was around addiction, in terms of substance abuse and all these other things and one thing that I’ve noticed that is the common denominator with the people that were dealing with that process, my family, my parents, and all of that is that it’s proportionate to the lack of inspiration and purpose in life. When there’s … I think it’s very important to say that when we feel like we are living a life of meaning or we feel like we have found something that we are really inspired by and we find purpose in, the addictions kind of … would you say that they kind of fade away or they lessen their grip on us or we just switch strategies?

LISA: We switch strategies. I will go back to what you said, the difference between just reacting versus really being able to use the higher center of the brain … that’s where this comes into play.

So, I’m always going to have a strategy to help me live the most fulfilling life that I can, but I think the difference is that the more authentic and meaning and inspiration that I have in my life, I’m now going to have a higher probability of employing strategies that I am consciously creating and strategically planning to help me on that path versus defaulting to strategies that are more addictive meaning there’s more pleasure, pain, avoidance, those types of cycles to help me out.

So, I think one comes from the higher center of the brain and the other is still staying in a more reactive, primal part of the brain.

OSMARA: Right, now what would you say to the saying that an addiction is something that you cannot control and that controls you?

LISA:
You know, it’s interesting … I think that when somebody is in the actual experience of the addiction, in the moment, the lower centers of the brain are lit up, they’re fully engaged in it. I actually think there’s some truth to what you just said. However, I don’t think that it’s the totality of the situation. I think that people hear that and then they default to, ‘oh there’s nothing to be done.’

However, I think that yes, in the moment, can the addiction and the pattern be the driver? Absolutely, however, there are wise questions, there are processes that we can go through to uncover what it is that we are up to, to help bring the higher centers of the brain online so that there does, over time, you can develop more governance.

I mean, I see it all the time with my clients. When we start to uncover what is driving the pattern and we start to put in alternative strategies into place that are really meaningful, what you actually see is the ability to self-govern, starts to light up. You do start to see that process shift.

OSMARA: That’s great, so you mentioned alternative strategies that are meaningful to them. Again, it’s person-specific so can you give us examples so people could get more ideas of what those alternative strategies would look like?

LISA: Absolutely. I was working with somebody yesterday and she brought to me a concern that she’s having multiple glasses of wine per night and she’s just not sure how she feels about that. She’s not sure if it’s an issue or not, but she’s’ noticing that she’s defaulting to it every single night and that’s become an ongoing pattern.

I want to throw in a nugget here before I answer your question. The first thing we did was get curious about the wisdom of that pattern and what it was about that pattern that was … how it was serving her in some way. Some of the things that we uncovered were that she tends to have a lot of brain noise and she’s very critical of herself.

So, what we uncovered that was when she’s having her glasses of wine, she allows herself to relax and when she allows herself to relax she allows herself to open up and do things like: be more expressive, dance, sing, be creative in her expression. Which is interesting because her job actually involves that. She’s a very creative and artistic individual, but when she gets caught in and needs to be perfect or needs to be a certain way, she locks herself up, right, and she locks up her expression.

So, we uncovered that, okay, that is a strategy that she is using to help access a very creative and very fluid part of herself. So, that was one of the things that we uncovered. Another thing that we uncovered is that she tends to be very controlling with her children and so when she has a couple glasses of wine, she is able to put her hands in the air, so to speak, and not be so controlling and hyper-focused on what they’re doing. Are they doing it well? Are they getting their homework done? Are they getting to bed on time? She tends to be a little bit more relaxed and she tends to just put her hands up in the air, again, back to allowing herself to be more flowy, less controlling, less hyper-focused.

We uncovered many, many, many, but I’m going to use those two to answer your question. So, from there we started to explore what are other ways that she can achieve the same outcome that don’t involve drinking. So that’s what I mean by alternative strategies. If the mind can’t figure out another way to achieve the same outcome, it’s going to keep defaulting to its current strategy. If alcohol or social media or the relationship or eating a lot … whatever it is … is the current strategy, they’ll keep defaulting to that.

And so, when I look at alternative strategies, what I really ask my clients to look at are what are strategies or things that you’ve actually told yourself “You know, I’d actually like to do more of that” or “I would like to do that, but I haven’t quite figured out a way to incorporate that into my life.”

As an example, she use to meditate a lot and she had let go of meditation and so when I asked her, “What’s a strategy that could help you let go and access your very creative, you know, fluid part of yourself that would allow you to sing and dance?” and immediately she said, “Meditation. I would love to get back into meditation.” Great, so that’s a strategy that is meaningful to her.

Another one that she said, “You know, I jam pack my days. I don’t create space for myself in my days so I don’t give myself time to go on that walk or to just look out that window at the beautiful landscape outside and take that deep breath. I don’t give myself time to just settle throughout my day.” Another strategy for her would be just to change her schedule and to start to create some more downtime in her schedule.

Another strategy that she came up with also was to give herself permission to have time each day to write. She wants to write a book… to write and to allow her own creativity to come forth in the book. If you can hear what I am saying, the things, whether it’s the meditation or the schedule or the writing the book, those are actually dreams of hers. Those are actually pointing in the direction of things that she would like to develop in herself because she has a larger dream.

She has a larger dream of being able to serve the world through her creations and so she hasn’t been able to give herself permission to step into that because she’s found herself in her paradigm locked into what it means to be a mom, what it means to be a working mom. She hasn’t given herself permission to really let go fully into her creative self to create some of these dreams that she actually has deep in her heart, which are to write, to express herself and to teach other people how to do the same thing.

So, the more that we were able to come up with strategies that were meaningful for her, she actually got a tear in her eye because what she realized was is “that’s what I actually want. I don’t actually want to come home and have three glasses or four glasses of wine every night. I want to give myself permission to sing and dance and write and create where I’m really deeply connected with myself and I fulfilled in doing it and I’m not afraid of expressing myself when I do it.”

So, that was the bit of the process that we went through and then we did the same thing around, how can she give her children permission to just do what they need to do without her feeling like she’s always on their back and micromanaging them. We came up with some brilliant, some really brilliant and inspiring strategies. That’s the beginning stages of beginning to shift the mind and beginning to create ways for the higher centers of the brain to come in and start to govern some of the addictive processes and strategies that are going on.

So that’s just an example that might be helpful to try to understand what I’m talking about.

OSMARA: That is a great example. I think that’s … really I think a lot of people would resonate with that right now and that also brings up two things, so one is that quote that says, “You don’t reach change by fighting the old, but by building the new.” The other thing that came up that I think is so important to is that we are so busy caught up in life and everything that it comes with that we lose track of ourselves and we lose touch with … we disconnect with ourselves. We lose touch with who we are at our core and what we want and so would it be fair to say that there’s a correlation between how connected we feel with ourselves and how in touch we feel to ourselves and the degree of those addictions and those patterns?

LISA: 100%. Absolutely. I think that’s a very, very high correlation. When we feel really deeply fulfilled and connected and it’s not just connected to life, I just go back to the body, also we feel connected to ourselves in our physical body as well. There’s not a lot of need to escape that or to try to find alternative strategies to create a meaningful life because you are already in the meaningful life.

You’re already there and the more that we can embrace that and honestly announce to the world, this is me, this is me, this is what I stand for and be willing to, to take on the challenges and to face the fears that go along with that … I do think that these strategies that we employ, diminish drastically over time.

OSMARA: Yeah, that reminds me of a great TED Talk that I watched by Johann Hari, I don’t know if you’ve seen it Lisa. He’s talking about what we don’t know about addiction and it was just so great because he basically … he said that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but it’s connection. It’s connection.

I agree with him, but I think he left something out. He was very focused on us connecting with the other and with the others, but I personally think that before that comes our connection with Self because the more connected we are with ourselves, then the more connected we can be with each other and then it goes out into those concentric spheres. It’s just so important to take the time to do the work.

I see this a lot with the working moms and the ones that are juggling so much on their plate. There’s this sense of guilt. “I don’t have the luxury of me time. I don’t have the luxury of self-exploration and to take time to go inward.” But honestly it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity because we can only operate and function to that capacity that we fuel ourselves with, so to speak.

LISA: I agree and being a working mom with a 10.5 year old I can absolutely speak to that to. I think there is a misnomer that we have to take time separate from our life to connect with ourselves. I think the reframe is to find time throughout our day to connect with ourselves. It’s not about, ‘okay I just finished work and now I have to go spend 30 minutes for me.’ It’s ‘I’m getting out of my car and walking into my office and can I just take a deep breath and connect with myself as I’m walking into my office.’

Can I in whatever I’m doing, stop and just be aware of my body or be aware of how I’m feeling or what my experience is at any given moment and then adjust according? If I’m in the middle of a situation and I’m getting that feedback from my body that’s saying, “Oh, Lisa you’re about to be someone that you’re not here — you’re about to agree to something that doesn’t sound congruent.”

Can I give myself permission to listen to the wisdom of my body and listen to the information so that in the moment I can stop and take that deep breath and look at the person I’m about to say yes to and say actually, I appreciate that offer, but the answer is no. In that moment I just connected to myself.

I just had a moment of being authentic. I didn’t have to go on retreat for a week. I didn’t have to go take 30 minutes. I’m not saying that’s not helpful, but I’m just saying that sometimes we forget that it’s the moments, the ongoing moments throughout our day that we give ourselves permission to say what we need to say, to do what we need to do, to create a life that is meaningful throughout the day that even the need to go on retreat starts to diminish because we are having multiple retreats throughout the day, so to speak.

OSMARA:
Exactly. When I was watching his TED Talk I was like, “Yes, spot on,” and it even made me understand where my mother was coming from even more as a child growing up. The taking time for yourself… One of the yogic principles, they call it Pratyahara, and it’s turning your senses inward and something so simple as just taking a few deep mindful breaths gets you back into your body.

I think the first anchor for us to really go inward and connect with ourselves before we reach outward for that connection in another … we have that power within us and it’s as free as our breath and that can help bring us back to center at any moment whether we are stuck in traffic, waiting in line, or whatever the case may be, but we have that big tool that is so free and so simple and we carry it everywhere with us.

It’s like in the Wizard of Oz, I think it was Glenda who told Dorothy, “My dear, you’ve had the power all along.” Something so simple like that puts the power back in our hands and you don’t even have to step on a yoga mat.

Let’s talk about your story and what lead you to go down this path of working with addiction and helping so many people see it in a different light.

LISA: So, as I mentioned I grew up in a family system where there were a lot of addictions and it was so beautiful and confusing. I watched my parents engage in their addictive patterns, but I deeply loved them and through my love for them I had a hard time viewing them as bad or viewing them as doing something bad, if that makes sense. As a child it was the, I’m not sure that’s the best strategy … as a child thinking that and not understanding the wisdom … but, I deeply love this person so how do I reconcile these two feelings inside of me?

Society likes to say that somebody who engages in an addictive process has something wrong with them and therefore they’re bad and that’s just not how I felt about my parents. So, it really lead me to want to understand the wisdom, I wanted to understand my parents. I wanted to understand what it was that could have potentially been driving them towards engaging in their strategies and along the way my love for them just deepened and deepened and deepened because I see the brilliance of what they were up to.

And, the same this I think has been true in my relationships where that’s been part of the relationship … really understanding them and understanding and seeing their struggle and I’ll even call it the split of who they are versus them trying to be someone different and really seeing that split and then watching their brilliant way of trying to handle that solution and find strategies to help them find who they really want to be in their life and the more that I was able to see that, my love for the deepened even more and my understanding of the brilliance of human behavior really deepened.

I think for me, the most important part though was watching that pattern over and over again. I stopped and asked how this was showing up in my life. Where am I doing this? Where is my split? Where am I in my life not giving myself permission to be who I am? Where am I needing to have my own alternative or other addictive strategies to help me feel like I’m having a fulfilling experience even though it wasn’t a deeply fulfilling experience?

Being in relationship with them has just been one of the most brilliant and transforming mirrors for me. So, I want to say that for anyone that is on the call where you are in a relationship with someone where there is an addictive pattern going along, I really encourage you to self-reflect and own where you have addiction happening and to really see the brilliance in your own pattern because as long as you’re not even aware of your own pattern, you’re not going to be able to embrace the person that you are in relationship with.

You’re going to judge them as a reflection of you whether you are aware that you are doing it or not so I think the first step in loving someone who is engaging in this is we have to love our own addictions. We have to see our own wisdom and we have to see what we are up to and somewhere along the line make the decision that if that’s what we want to do, to give ourselves permission to step into life in a more expressed way and in a more congruent way with who we feel we are and what we feel like we are here to do in this lifetime.

I offer that up and I also want to offer that up with our kids. In terms of setting our children up for a deeply fulfilling life or supporting them on this particular journey. The more we can help our kids access what they love and the more we can help our kids develop a relationship and connection with their bodies so they can begin to understand the feedback that they will be getting along the way throughout their journey.

The combination of those two things are probably two of the most important things that we can offer our kids on their life path to help them discover what’s most meaningful for them, whether we agree with it or not.

Help them develop a life around that so that they are plugged into it, associated in it, so they can really access themselves. And then the second part is help them create a relationship with their body, help them become very skilled about understanding the emotional states that they are associating inside, feeling the sensations in their body, feeling comfortable in their body because that’s their feedback, that’s their tuning fork in
their life.

OSMARA: So great. Can we talk a little bit more about that? How can parents begin to help? I guess it would start with them, right? They will have to also get into their body.

LISA: It does, it does. It starts with us. We have to model it. It’s one thing to say, let’s feel this and model not feeling it. It’s not going to work. It really requires a parent to explore this for themselves and to put their own practice, if you will, infront of the child. As an example, with my daughter I will say things like, “Wow Avery, I’m feeling incredibly overwhelmed right now and I know this because there’s a tension showing up in my belly and my arms are getting heavy and I’m understanding what my body is trying to tell me now.”

It’s language and that’s how I talk to her and she has, over time, been able to turn that around and integrate that for herself. So she’s able to say, “Wow I’m feeling angry and wow my hands just got tight and I feel like I want to scream,” and we are just going to take a deep breath.

I think that is such an important piece that we have to be willing to model having a relationship with my body. I have to be willing as a parent to say to my child, “Wow did you watch me just do that trying to be someone I wasn’t. Did you notice what just happened to me? Did you notice that mommy hasn’t been feeling well this week or mommy has been depressed this week? Let me tell you why.”

I work a lot with parents and parents are so afraid of putting themselves out there to a child because they think in some way they are going to hurt their kid or create a situation where their kid feels they have to take care of the parent, but it’s so backwards.

A child doesn’t need a perfect parent, a child needs a human parent and a child needs somebody to model to them, what does it mean to be human? Why does it mean to sometimes sync up and sometimes not? What does it mean to lose yourself and to find yourself? To feel a full range of experiences inside, to feel different sensations in the body.

They need someone to model it because they don’t know how to do it and they’re searching … they’re searching for models and the more that we can model that to a child, pairing that with finding out what is meaningful, we do set them up to create strategies in their life that are coming from a higher center of the brain, from the more primitive parts of them that are just trying to do the best that the can and make the best out of life.

OSMARA: That’s so powerful, that is so powerful because those mirror neurons are working and the neurons are not listening to what they’re being told, but merely observing and being reflected back to them. That’s so … it’s so important and it is credited to the parents because it does take a certain level of courage and vulnerability to be able to show up like that.

LISA: Absolutely and for a lot of parents who didn’t get it modeled for themselves, they don’t know how and that’s okay. We start with where we are at and if all we know is at that moment is to take a deep breath, well then that’s where we start and then we add a little piece to it and then say, “I’m feeling whatever…” then we add another piece to it and then another.

But, we start with where we are at and that’s enough.

OSMARA: That’s enough… Lisa, thank you so much. It has been such a great conversation.

LISA: Thank you so much for the invitation.

OSMARA: Are there any closing thoughts that you’d like to leave the listeners with?

LISA: I think it’s just what we have been talking about sometimes overtly or covertly, I think it’s time for a new paradigm around addiction which is that it’s health and action. The more we can see it as a strategy the more we can appreciate it and then consider, do we want a different strategy?

Until we can see the wisdom and health and beauty in it, we don’t even give ourselves permission to find another strategy that is as meaningful or can be as meaningful, but in a more fulfilling way because we are so caught in guilt and shame that we just stay in shock and in a cycle without really seeing our brilliance.

OSMARA: Amen to that. Now, if they wanted to find out more about you or connect with you, where do they go?

LISA:
So, they can go to my website which is lisa-dion.com. For parents that are interested in work for children they can go to my other website which is synergeticplaytherapy.com.

OSMARA: 
Wonderful, alright and we are going to have those on the website as well along with episodes highlights and other goodies. Lisa Dion, thank you so much for being here.

LISA: Thank you so much.

 

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