Most things in life can only be known & understood via personal experience.
And even then, all knowledge acquisition is subject to the conditions it was consumed under. For example, stress and uncertainty are not ideal conditions for retaining information. Such difficulties tend to leave a greater lasting experiential & emotional impact, and are not so conducive to absorbing and retaining theoretical or conceptual amounts of data.
Anyway, it was in this spirit that I conducted a bit of personal research after competing the 31 Days Chalkenge last week.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my 31 Days was more an investigation investigation into self-control, and extended way beyond any substance use. I was going through a process over the course of a month to be confronted with a months worth of challenges – stress, frustration, anxiety etc – that I had developed substance-related coping mechanisms for, and I used the 31 Day Challenge as a digestible framework to keep my focus and resolve when facing these challenges.
And it worked quite well. I not only saw improvements in my emotional state, focus, energy and happiness, but more importantly uncovered new coping mechanisms that are far more effective than the old ones.
So once I had discovered/remembered these tools, I wanted to test myself and my perception of the negatives of the mechanisms. To be honest, as strength and focus began returning thought the course of the challenge, I felt my feelings about the negatives begin to diminish. Which I know from experience, isn’t a good thing.
So I chose to test myself, and made the all to easy purchase on my way home from the office.
And now, on the other side of the test weekend, I have very crisp understanding of the pros and cons of the whole thing, and see (almost) no pros. Certainly any pro is far outweighed by the dream shattering, personality stealing, life ruining mountain of cons I can now carry clearly forward with me.
A key reason that I could conduct this test and come away from it with such clarity is that I made a choice that was all about me. My thoughts weren’t cloudy by concerns of anyone else’s opinion, nor guilt, nor shame, nor fear of repercussion. I was free to just experience. And so, for the first time in almost 5 years, I could really see.