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We recover from addiction and trauma through the practice of love.
What does this mean?
Let’s first start with a definition of love. I think of love as an unconditional attitude of reverence for Life that inspires an intention to nurture Life, which then triggers actions to enhance Life. A loving attitude leads to loving intentions, which lead to loving actions.
This deep reverence for Life is for our lives, the lives of others, and for all of Life. We are born with this innate reverence. If all goes well, our reverence flowers during our early years of loving and being loved. As we grow into adulthood, we ultimately come to implicitly realize our own sacred nature. We also experience ourselves as an interdependence part of the sacred web of Life. With love for ourselves, we forget ourselves, and go forth into the world to love others.
Addiction and trauma, including neglect, damage our reverence for Life. If you weren’t traumatized before addiction developed, you surely suffered trauma from addicting along with tremendous shame.
Reverence is key to healing from addiction and trauma. If we had deep reverence for ourselves, like that of a loving parent for their child, we would do nothing to harm ourselves. That includes addicting. We would do whatever we needed to do to regain control through treatment, the help of others, and any other sources of power greater than ourselves. Restoration of reverence for ourselves and others is core to recovery. We need healing of our very being.
But love is both an attitude and a skill. Reverence is only half of the equation of recovery. Loving action is the other half. If we never learned to safely and effectively love and be loved growing up, we lack the capacity to love, much like a child raised in silence lacks the capacity for language. Many victims of addiction then turn to pleasure to numb pain because they do not know how to resolve pain through loving self-care and loving connections to others. They have what I call a “Love Deficit Disorder.”
For many, then, recovery entails a habilitation of the capacity to love. We do this through a combination of actions and practices that enhance our reverence for Life and the daily practice of loving behaviors, including taking very good care of ourselves. When it comes to addiction, part of taking care of ourselves is getting treatment and the help of others for managing our dysregulated drive-reward system.
In cultivating reverence and practicing loving action, we enter into a virtuous cycle of feeling good and doing good, each enhancing the other. Through the practice of love, the healing and growth that are recovery occur.
For many, trauma work is key to the restoration of reverence, along with stillness practices and letting in the love of others. Tapping into a Sacred Loving Force is essential for many.
When you combine reverence practices with an intentional practice of loving actions—including taking very good care of yourself and protecting yourself from harm—the miracle of recovery happens.