Acceptance and Drugs.

  • August 28, 2014

This is a tricky one.

I first really realized I had a problem with self-acceptance and self-judgement in 2011. At the core of many problems that can present themselves in the human psyche is a reluctance to accept, or pointed and deliberate rejection of reality, whether it be the reality of ourselves or our environment past/present.

I had a friend tell me the other day that I need to read less and write more. I’ve been so focused on information intake that I have severely cut back on output. The thing is, the things I really want to talk about require demanding a vulnerability of myself that is not easy. I was listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast the other week and he questioned James Altucher about his willingness to be vulnerable in his blog. The saying “if it feels uncomfortable, you are probably on the right track” or something to that effect came up. This feels uncomfortable… so I’m probably on the right track.

The trigger for me sitting down and writing this happened 20 or so minutes ago when I realized that I had to admit to myself that my ego was guiding my behaviour much more than I cared to admit. Ego specifically for me is a fiery issue because a lot of my energy for music and my internal values align with humility as the true way to inner peace and contentment. So when I noticed that my behaviours were becoming more ego gratification based than I would like, given my energy and near crusader like attitude to the battle against ego, I not only found it very difficult to admit… but very difficult to accept.

The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter who you are, there are always going to be ups and downs and hurdles in our minds. We are going to see ourselves fuck up. We are going to see ourselves doing things that we do or have not imagined our true selves as doing. But it is OKAY.

Why is that significant? Why is it important to know that it is OKAY if we fuck up?

There is a difference between condoning a behaviour, and accepting that what is done is done and learning from the experience. If we can’t accept something about ourselves… not only can we NOT truly learn from it, but we are passing judgement on ourselves and diminishing our self-love and self-acceptance. Humans are not perfect. Inevitably we WILL fuck up. 100%. There is no infallible human being on the planet. While that is not an excuse to ENABLE these fuck ups ahead of time and deflect responsibility with a mantra like “I’m only human”, it IS a reason to forgive ourselves when we “see the light” so to speak and are given an insight on how our maybe well intentioned behaviours have negatively affected ourselves or those around us.

My beginning of my deliberate work on the area of acceptance in my life began with my experiences with MDMA in 2011. I had learned many things about myself and the workings of my mind prior to MDMA via marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms, and the mental states that they can create. Discovering marijuana in 2006-2007 dialled down the social anxiety knob in my mind from a 12 to a 2 until eventually, now 7-8 years later, I turned my biggest weakness of social interaction into my most valuable asset and am now earning my living as a competent salesperson. Psilocybin effectively turned off my OCD intrusive thoughts (OCD and psilocybin will get a separate blog post in the coming weeks) and I experienced a level of mental clarity that had been unprecedented. Through these altered states I learned what was possible and brought these experiences into sober life, where coupled with working with a professional counsellor, I was able to rework my thinking and see how our thought patterns create problems for us and how we CAN deliberately work our issues (and we ALL have fucking issues) and resolve them.

Where marijuana created a nearly anxiety free state, and mushrooms created a nearly OCD free state, MDMA created a state of total acceptance where I realized that I had had little to no self-love/acceptance. So much of my mental bullshit, when it all boiled down, was me beating myself up for not being perfect. How could someone SO invested in psychology and self-development allow themselves to slip up or loose themselves. How could I, ME, not be 100% on my mental game 24/7. It was an unrealistic expectation. Our unrealistic expectations of ourselves, or our mental overinflation of our abilities to cope with things/challenges that arise in this human condition CREATE SO MANY PROBLEMS. We truly ARE our own worst enemies.

Acceptance allows us to move past things. It seems so basic but we don’t do it. Addressing acceptance at it’s core will allow oneself much greater freedom to BE. To exist and grow without ourselves beating ourselves up for not having done ALL growth in advance of our current predicament or realization about ourselves.

Now you may not need a drug experience to realize these things about yourself. In fact depending on your personality and biological make up it might be the LAST thing that you need. Personally, I can truly say, that my experiences with the substances of marijuana, psilocybin, MDMA, and DMT have truly helped me change my life for the better and if you got any personal insight out of reading this, it may open your mind to challenge the current drug war/drug dogma that is flying around the planet. Most people that know me well, or have been following me on twitter have probably picked up on my anti-prohibitionist attitude and this is the beginning of me really pointedly speaking out and building a case for the invaluable self-improvement potential of psychedelic substances.

I could have just focused on the concept of acceptance and left out how I arrived at certain realizations… but this isn’t a politically correct Newspaper media outlet, and I have no intention of keeping my mouth shut when it comes to being served bullshit on a silver platter by said media outlets. I ultimately believe that a lot of doors to positive mental health are being kept shut by the war on drugs and acceptance is just one example. I would like to dive more into various things that I have learned through substances and this will be a recurring theme or idea in future blog posts.

Agree? Disagree? General thoughts? Let me know in the comments below

  • Kristen Kanes

    Thank you for taking the plunge and writing so candidly about such a personal and sensitive topic. I can really relate to what you wrote. I don’t know how much my brother has told you about my own issues, but I have generalized anxiety disorder. For me, this presents as frequent and excessive fear and anxiousness around normal situations, as well as panick attacks. I used to be really hard on myself for not being as carefree and easy going as other people, for having such extreme reactions to things, and for having more needs than other people when it comes to living spaces and new social experiences. Radical self acceptance has been a huge part of my journey towards being able to live and function with this disorder and developing the ability to love and take care of myself.

    For me, my ability to accept and come through panic attacks, without making them worse by fighting them or dissociating, was greatly aided by an experience I had, during which I had a panic attack while on LSD. The drug simultaneously took the edge off the attack by eliminating the sense of impending doom that usually accompanies the overwhelming panic, while forcing me to stay with myself and really experiennce my panic moment to moment without fighting it or running from it, all the while knowing that it will feel like it lasts forever because of how LSD skews time perception, but it will pass. Coming out of that particular panic attack was truly liberating, and did not come withy usual post-attack anxiety, which can provoke more panick attacks and last for weeks to months. I felt like i had conquered the world, or at least, my biggest demon.

    This experience offered me a glimpse into what life could be like with a healthier and more accepting attitude towards my illness. I’m not perfect at coming through these attacks sober yet, but LSD showed me an alternative to strive for, and I try to draw on that experience during every attack. I get a little better at staying with it every time, and am experiencing less and less shame and post-attack effects. Ultimately, my own experiences tell me that drugs can be a very valuable tool for self exploration and healing mental illness when approached in a safe environment with the right mindset, and I agree that it’s important that this message get out there so that these tools can be researched and made available for those in need.

    • Kristen! Thank YOU for sharing! No your brother hadn’t mentioned anything, had no idea.
      I personally haven’t had an LSD experience yet but it is on my to do list for this year. Sounds like you are moving down the road to really grabbing the anxiety by the horns.

  • Iain

    You know I agree haha, excellent experiences to share though. I like to use the word ‘acknowledge’ as well as acceptance, because as you gestured to, acceptance is a bit vague and might be seen as enabling etc. To me, it’s a matter of fully admitting the reality of a situation and saying to myself “that’s the way this particular situation has been going (or how I’ve been acting etc), and that’s okay. It’s consigned to the past and I can learn from it, and even if I was acting absurd, shamefully, or being hurtful, only through this process of accepting it can I learn and live better going forward”.

    I also think it’s importance to distinguish between a person’s (or your own) behaviours versus your overall value as a being. So, saying to your partner “Is this your cup? Can you take it to the kitchen as wash it please? I know there’s lots of reasons it may have happened this time, but it’s a problematic behaviour, especially if it’s a pattern. Let’s try to respect each other by not leaving a mess around” versus “you always leave your shit everywhere! You’re worse than scum and I wanna guide you through a table saw taint-first. Think you can leave a cup out?! I’ll feed your soul to a tribe of incestuous warlocks!” and so on. It’s way easier to listen when given constructive feedback on a one-time behaviour – even if it’s something you’ve done before. Confronting someone about patterns of behaviour is more complex. There’s always room for more forgiveness and growth; we just have to learn to do it better and more often – with ourselves and those around us.

    Kristen, I really enjoyed the LSD experience you related and it immediately reminded me of a passage from a great book (buddhism without belief – S Batchelor). In a discussion on releasing your cravings, once in a while we have an experience that provides insight and different ways of perceiving ourselves: “but no sooner is it glimpsed than it is gone. Cessation of craving is like a momentary gap in the clouds. The sun shines brilliantly for a few moments, only to be covered over again. We find ourselves back in the humbling fog of anguish, craving, habit, restlessness, distraction. But with a difference: now we know where this track [aka the central path] goes. We have set foot in the territory for which these words are just a map.” It’s the map metaphor that I love, that through your LSD experience you glimpsed and felt something different – and now that you know it’s possible, you can go there more often and find ways to stay – then find other new places etc etc. Steve’s right about psychedelics only being one way of doing this (“once you get the message from psychedelics, hang up the phone” AND “once you know the way broadly, you will see it in all things”); meditation is my preferred method, though psychedelics speak a bit more loudly to those who haven’t been listening carefully, or kick you in the head haha. I sincerely recommend that book to everyone I know that’s interested in self-understanding. PS you’re correct about the my psyc paper being interesting – the only painful part is the looming deadline

    • First off, don’t rag on the taint first table saw, it’s all about perspective and whether its performed as an act of love.

      Love the distinction between behaviour patterns and personal identity. Very key. Once you move away from the idea that this behaviour that this person is doing is who they are so FUCK EM, you can actually dialogue and move past it/compromise.

      You have mentioned that book to me before! Once I’m through my information fast, I might just have to check it out.

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