Excess is what remains, what is surplus, lawlessness, lack of moderation. Excess is what is detrimental, instead of being useful or beneficial.
Excess hurts, and it causes pain. It's an addiction, a compulsion, a disease. It is the result of some chemical and emotional disarray that shakes people inside and overflows into the body, as a glass full of water.
Excess is always an excess: food, alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs! These are problems with different profiles and consequences, but they are, above all, an excess: something that breaks the boundary of the skin and spills onto the body. It is when it reaches the body that the excess is no longer a secret and becomes visible and objectionable, especially for those who have never confronted their inner boundaries or their lack.
There are those who counsel moderation – even with an inappropriate lightness – to those who suffer from some kind of excess. But dealing with the excess is a difficult and painful process. If it were easy there would be no excesses, but only a perfect world of balance!
Mark Twain said, “we do not rid ourselves of a habit by throwing it out the window: it is necessary to make it go down the ladder step by step.” This is how we free ourselves of what we do not want, what makes us sick, what hurts us: slowly, very slowly.
Everybody is well aware of the harmful effects of their compulsion, and often wakes up thinking that he has to stop or overcome the problem. And as soon as that first morning thought strikes, he throws himself immediately at the compulsion that he is trying to get rid of. It's as if the thought itself is enough for the whole body and energy to throw themselves at the satisfaction of that addiction. It becomes greater than everything. It is the center of everything and it is around it that the whole day is organized.
It is not the advice or the knowledge of the consequences of a compulsion that makes someone stop. Not even the most modern medicines are effective against an addition if there isn’t an inner decision. There is obviously a question of chemistry - it is a disorder, but if there is no will there is no way to overcome it!
Mastering a compulsion, an addiction, requires three basic things: humility to recognize the problem, willingness to quit it and the right time. There’s no point rushing to the hospital, to the sophisticated medications or to have a battalion of friends and professionals full of good intentions.
A compulsion is kept at bay from the inside out – starting from the inside, like any major decision in life. It needs time – the right time – to mature, until the will becomes dense and passes from the gaseous state that is the thought, to the solid state that is the action! And that’s the only way it’ll work. As long as there is no consciousness, no will, and no time there is no way to quit a compulsion – food, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs or any other.
Quitting an addiction is a slow process that measures how tough you are, because people may quit an addiction, but the addiction never quits them. It is a shadow that lives forever in their head and it comes back at a slight gesture of distraction, at the slightest oversight. An addiction is like an unruly child; it is bold, rebellious and boundless: it needs constant monitoring and care. You do not quit an addiction with anger, rage, hating it and denying it. You quit an addiction the same way you quit a longtime lover, when there’s still love, but the desire is gone: slowly and tenderly, respecting the past, but creating a new future.
Those who can quit a compulsion discover an unexpected strength that is capable of changing their fate. After the suffering caused by the abstinence and the reeducation of habits, they are reborn and feel a bit like the superheroes in cartoons: owners of a superpower that makes them masters of life, and truly free. They exceeded their limits because they have controlled what is most difficult to master: the demons that dwell in the soul, the ghosts that haunt the mind.