We can enslave ourselves to addictions, compulsions, codependency, power, money and materialism, thereby blocking our hearts.  We can become slaves to worry, fear, hate, anger and depression and thus forfeit our faith.  We can become slaves to pride, prejudice, arrogance, self-righteousness, greed, entitlement and violence, and we sacrifice conscious awareness of our soul. 

When we treat ourselves and others as commodities to use, abuse, exploit, neglect or endanger, we dishonor and deny divine heritage.  When we feel empty, broken, damaged and demeaned, we have forgotten the spirit within us.  The tyranny of cravings and excessive willfulness dehumanize and despiritualize life, leaving us without satisfaction or serenity. 

Retaliation, over-controlling and entitlement deepen and lengthen suffering and wounds.  Symptoms and cravings do not define a person or a life.  They are messages from parts of us that need attention, understanding and healing.  It is not obtaining what we think we need from others or life, which creates health and happiness, for we are no longer infants. It is not waiting until our ship comes in or we win the lottery that will fulfill us.  The solution lies in what we give, and what we give up right now, to promote health and happiness. 

We can learn to compassionately contain pain, as we would hold a precious, crying child.  We can practice active solutions that engage the healing power of love and focus on what we can positively create, rather than what we fear and hate.  We can cease enabling, cooperating and participating in negativity, and commit to healthy, responsible personal care taking and stewardship.We can demonstrate clear boundaries with anyone who would harm us, and pray for them as we pray for ourselves.  We can direct our attention to healing, learning, growing and ultimately transforming our wounds and problems into character assets and spiritual principles. 

We can relinquish greed for gratitude, chaos for serenity, and self-righteousness for humility.  We can exchange anger and blame for compassion and understanding.  We can transform violence into peace and reverence for life.  These are the promises of surrendering negative energies and defense mechanisms, and living in solution.  We are meant to not only give up our unhealthy habits but to awaken to the realization of all that we were created to be, and to share that with the world.  This is the promised freedom of recovery.

It is helpful to identify our highest reasons for living, and what forces within us interfere with their fruition.  We can discover our healthy talents, interests and dreams, and commit to supporting their evolution.  We can increase our awareness of deep inner guidance and notice how it communicates with us; whether from feelings, visions, intuition or external signs.  When we override higher consciousness and defer to habits, external pressure, laziness or fear, we lose integrity.  Integrity is the foundation for self-esteem.  When we lack genuine esteem, defense mechanisms attempt to compensate for this.  Defenses backfire when they are over-used, resulting in the appearance of character defects and symptoms, that tell us that we are not well.

The recovery of wellness and integrity does not occur from demonstrating occasional acts of kindness and expressing gratitude when it is convenient or self-serving.  It is rather a permanent alliance with a sense of wholeness and divinity.  We must allow ourselves to fully feel what we love in ourselves, others, nature, animals, the planet, life, and our God.  We can experience awe and wonder at any age.  We can determine what we most wish to communicate with the world, and what we wish to learn from our world.  When we become still and quiet, we can see deeply into the essence and the interconnectedness of life.  We can pay closer attention to the ways in which we experience holiness, miracles, blessings, divine intervention, guidance and love from our Higher Power.    

Freedom from external “fixes” allows us to live with open, loving hearts.  Freedom from negative emotions
enlarges and deepens our faith.  Freedom from unhealthy behaviors lets us live from our soul’s purpose.  Remembering that in our core, we are all magnificent miracles, propels us to demonstrate the highest humanitarian and spiritual values.  Freedom arises from full recognition of our highest self, our unique purpose, and how we serve others in this life.  The more that this recognition becomes reality, the more of Heaven we bring to earth.  There is no greater freedom than this.