One of the sad truths in our society is how empty many people feel, and the devastation their emptiness causes others through their resulting addictive behavior.We have all heard about the sexual acting-out of Anthony Weiner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton and John Edwards. We all know about the many famous people who end up in treatment centers for alcohol and drug addiction.
The question is: why? Why would someone who seemingly has everything destroy their own life, and the lives of those they are close to, with their addictions to sex, alcohol or drugs?
It’s true that these high-profile people seem to have everything that our society deems important for happiness and self-esteem – money and all that money can buy, relationships and fame. What is it that creates the desperate need to act out addictively when they have so much?
While they have much externally, internally they are bereft – empty. And the cause of this inner emptiness is one thing only – a lack of love. But it is not a lack of love from others. These people often have the love of many people, such as spouse, children and friends.
Inner emptiness is caused by the lack of love that comes from a narcissistic, entitled mindset. The lack of love that results from trying to get love, rather than be loving to oneself and with others. When a person’s intention is to get love, attention, and approval externally, they create their own inner emptiness. While the sex or the alcohol or the drugs might fill them temporarily, or give them a feeling of aliveness and wellbeing temporarily, it can never truly fill them in any deep and consistent way.
The thing that all of these people lack is an intent to take responsibility for loving themselves – for filling themselves with love so they have love to share with others. They have learned to substitute their various addictions – sex and other processes, alcohol and other substances – in place of genuine love. But because sex and alcohol, drugs, food, and other addictions are not love, the person never feels full inside. And because they are not loving themselves, their hearts are closed to others’ love.
When our intent is to take responsibility for our own feelings and learn to be loving to ourselves, our heart opens. When our heart is open, we can genuinely experience love from others, and, more importantly, from our Source.
Our Source IS love. Love is what we live in. Love is the intelligence of the universe, and is available to all of us when we open to it. But love from your Source cannot fill you when your heart is closed.
What Opens the Heart to Love and Fills the Emptiness?
Whether your heart is open or closed to love depends on your intent. At any given moment you are either intent on:
Protecting against your painful feelings with some form of addictive, controlling behavior, or
Learning about what is loving to yourself and others – about what is in your own highest good, and the highest good of others.
The intent to protect against painful feelings closes the heart, leaving you feeling empty and alone inside. It takes courage to be willing to compassionately feel your painful feelings of life – your loneliness and heartbreak – but unless you have the courage to learn to feel and lovingly manage these painful feelings, you will turn to addictions as a way of avoiding them.
The intent to learn about what is loving opens your heart to love. The intent to learn and love leads to taking loving action in your own behalf and in behalf of others, such as being kind and compassionate toward yourself and others.
When your intent is to get something from others – sex, approval, caring or compassion – you will feel empty.
When your intent is to give love, caring and compassion to yourself and others, you will feel full. This is what heals addictions and fills the emptiness.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D.