chapters

Dependence & Slave Mentality

Whatever has the power to give you happiness or take it away
will be your master

- Epictetus

The major developmental challenge of adulthood, and the ambitious goal of this course, is to develop the competence to act in accord with your interests and principles rather than yield in the direction of least resistance. During this passage you will encounter a sequence of challenges that you will have to master to become free of dependence on sources of control outside of yourself.

You are dependent on an incentive when the primary determinant of your behavior is getting the payoff rather than acting in accord with your interests. Once you begin sacrificing what is dear to you [health, wealth, relationships] in order to get the payoff of using the incentive, you begin to lose control. Passivity is your enemy; if you are not actively escaping your addictive trap, you are falling deeper into it.

Experiential Invitations

When you are calm and free of distractions, behaving as you intend to behave is a trivial task, it is more difficult to act as intended during a crisis. Strong emotional states distort your perceptions and appraisals and consume the cognitive resources required to perform mindfully during moments of crisis. If you over-react to the things that happen, you will be vulnerable to relapse.

A primary objective of this course is to enhance your ability to manage your emotions so that you can stay cool during crises rather than using a substance or activity to help you cope with it. The meditations, trance formative inductions, and thought experiments presented throughout this course will enhance your ability to cope with the raw experience of living.

Everyone has some ability to influence their experience. However, individuals gifted with imagination, intellect, and the ability to focus attention can develop their skills rapidly. With some practice you will be able to cope with challenges that previously may have provoked a relapse. Exercises to enhance your ability to cope with high-risk states will prepare upi for the wide range of challenges your future has in store for you.

If I do a good job describing the experiential methods, and you do a good job exercising your mental faculties, something extraordinary will emerge from our collaboration: liberation from the corruptive influence of an Incentive Use Disorder.

Our Challenge

Have respect for our challenge. Your part of the collaboration is more difficult than mine — executing the intended coping response during crises is truly heroic.  However, my part is not trivial: It is not easy to use abstract language to communicate meaningfully about subjective experience.  Each individual experiences a different subjective reality and uses a different vocabulary to describe it. To cope with the limitations of everyday language, I have used metaphors, stories about specific clients, and even technical jargon liberally throughout the text.  

Different people can perceive the same event from different perspectives. The same person can perceive an event from different perspectives. During crises of stress or temptation, your perception, motivation, and other subjective experiences will be filtered differently than they are now. Your ability to successfully cope with these high-risk situations largely depends upon your ability to manage your emotional states. To supplement the text describing the cause-and-effect principles that pertain to subjective phenomena, a wide range of thought experiments, hypnotic inductions, and other state-altering protocols are included to promote experiential familiarity with altered states of consciousness and intentional trance formation. The first thing to appreciate is that things are not always as they appear.

Since you are unique, your path of greatest advantage is different than anyone else's. Learning about yourself and how you react to a wide range of crises so that you can follow this path is an impressive undertaking. There is so much to consider and so many skills you need to develop that starting out can seem overwhelming.

As a rule of thumb: First, learn about the cause-and-effect principles that influence your actions during high-risk situations. We do not understand how your addictive trap works yet, and so we do not know which tools you will be the most useful to help you escape it.

There are alternative ways of conceptualizing your challenge, as well as tools to help you resolve it. To meet the needs of a range of users, I have included more content than you will personally need, Self-tests and navigational tools are included to help you get access to the materials you will need quickly enough to keep you ahead of your challenge.

Be aware of the need for timely action, and you are the best judge of where to focus your energies. You may find it helpful to spend a little time lightly browsing through the course to get an idea of the kinds of tools that are offered and where they are. There are many ways to navigate through this material. This page will help you choose an efficient path. Please read through the whole page first, then decide where to go next.

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