I used to be a political junkie.
My habit peaked during the last year’s Presidential election in the U.S.
As election day approached, I was deep into a bender and fixing non-stop. I snorted the newspaper and magazine articles, drank in the cable TV shows, and inhaled the Sunday morning interviews. I even mainlined a few blogs, refreshing my browser compulsively searching for the next hit.
Like I said, I was in deep, man.
As events played themselves out, the drama came to a climax on election night. I was as high as I’ve ever been. Hungover for the days and weeks that followed, I noticed that my appetite for the stuff dwindled. When I’d turn on the TV for a little taste, I’d see someone yelling at someone in a pointless argument about the “right” way to live.
When I stopped using so much, I lost all the tolerance I had built up over the years. I could no longer handle the stuff and as a result, my habit was broken.
Oh sure, I still read the occasional headline or Op-Ed piece. I come across enough information to maintain a loose grasp on the issues of the day. But I no longer feel like I am in the grip of the drug. I no longer feel compelled to tune into the world of politics.
At first glance, the suddenness and the ease of this change in my habits surprised me. But as I look a little deeper, the reason I was able to break free from my unhealthy addiction is simple and clear.
I started caring more about how I felt than being right.
My drug really wasn’t really politics, it was about being right. My drug led me to gather information to support my beliefs and to mentally trashing any of “them” that were on the other side. And like any addiction, my need was never sated. The high of any victory was fleeting, the anger from any insult or defeat simmered.
When I really looked deeper within myself, the topic of politics did not elicit a positive feeling in my life. Watching a cable show inflamed, not soothed.
Why would I choose to put myself in that feeling state? Because the need to be right is seductive and powerful energy. At the same time, it’s lower grade energy. (For proof, just call to mind a person in your life that you experience as always needing to be right. Not very attractive, is it?)
I know I allowed myself to get sucked so deeply into the the political world because I had fallen prey to at least two flawed premises. First, I believed that there was a right way to live. Of course, the right way was the one that matched my opinion. Yet viewing the world this way and seeing so many people as being wrong does not feel good. At all. Don’t let your ego fool you into stepping over how all this really feels.
Second, I cared about politics because I took on the belief that government held the power to influence my life. Sure, the government is in charge of things that may touch my life — war, taxes, public policy in education and health care — but I am always in charge of my life, not the government.
I am in charge of the abundance that flows to me. I am in charge of my own wellness. And I am in charge of how I choose to feel in any given moment. No outside power. Just me. I will not use the government as an excuse to feel bad because I know how I feel dictates what I create. And I really care about what I create in my life.
If you want to create your life in a deliberate, conscious matter, it is then up to you to choose to put your attention on what feels better in your life. As odd as it sounds, discerning what really feels good in your life (versus what you have come to believe) takes some practice. (I used to argue that it felt good to argue. Um, it doesn’t).
When you begin to care how you feel more than you care about being right you’ll begin to break addictions you did not realize you had. Like any addiction, you will not be able to imagine how good it really feels to be free of the habit until it’s gone.
But trust me, you won’t miss it.