Everyone hates making mistakes. Nothing new. But here’s a friendly reminder: without the mistakes we’ve made in our lives how could we ever learn, how could we grow intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally? The answer is that we wouldn’t grow, at least not very well.
That’s the problem with drugs and substances, and addictions in general, dear reader. And yes, I speak from personal experience. All substances, all addictions become what they are because they insulate us (at the moment) from dealing with whatever reality (life issue) we are trying to avoid, consciously or subconsciously, at the time. What I mean by this is that when life gets stressful, when a problem arises in a family, or in a relationship at work, at school, we are inclined to do what we can at that moment to avoid that stress/anxiety/pain. For those who are well-adjusted, this could look like going on a run, calling a family friend, or even journaling about the situation. But for those still learning how to adjust, it may be turning to a bottle of wine, or binge eating, or viewing pornography. Because whatever that thing is, it acts as a drug – it medicates us out of the pressure of dealing with that immediate problem. It sedates us.
Now this seems okay in the moment, because hey, you feel better, and you didn’t have to deal with that problem. But in reality, as we all know, the drugs, the eating, the masturbation, didn’t deal with the problem at all, it didn’t make the problem go away; it merely distracted us temporarily. The problem is complicated, two-fold. First, the unaddressed problem has likely gotten worse during our time of distraction. But even worse is that with repeated use, we’ve trained ourselves that instead of having to face a problem and constructively address and even fix that problem – which takes maturity, discipline, patience, compassion (difficult virtues to attain) – we abuse pot, gambling, eating, sex, ourselves, others, _______ (fill in the blank).
We stunt our growth, we retard our growth, we literally disable ourselves when we choose the bad behavior, the medication, the addict, over the right response, the healthy choice, which is choosing the unaltered reality of life with all its hurts, harms, mistakes, and messiness.
So this first step is being aware that all of those mistakes from our past, even the mistakes from today, are there to help us make better choices now. We cannot be afraid of mistakes or ashamed of them (though this is not to say that we shouldn’t be ashamed of our sins, insofar as we do not wish to repeat them), we must simply learn from our mistakes.
In conclusion, what it means to grow into adulthood is just that choice on a day-by-day basis to deal head on with life’s problems. This is how we grow and mature, regardless of – in fact because of – the mistakes we make along the way.