Just about everyone, when under stress, tends to lean on some sort of compromising habit. Many people depend on alcohol or pot to settle them down after a long day’s work. Some indulge in late-night cereal binges more often than they’d care to admit. Some find a little relief in gossip, while others fly into a rage. Plenty of people spend too much money on clothes or “toys” they don’t really need, just to make themselves “feel better.” Lately, online “friends” occupy many people’s attention and waste time that could be better spent. The need to lean on something can get bad enough that people feel that they must sneak and hide their behaviors, hoping no one will find out. Negative habits can make us feel increasingly lonely and disconnected from friends and loved ones.

What I’m describing is an aspect of the human condition, and most people are fettered by it. The human condition causes people who are overworked, overwhelmed, and stressed out to seek relief from their reality. Negotiating our chaotic world, with its fragmented families, aging parents, partisan politics, electronic overwhelm, social media, and over-medication, has never been more challenging.

Instead of using healthy means to address the stressors of life, we repeatedly turn instead to easily accessible and fast-acting panaceas, such as destructive habits and addictions. And by “addictions,” I don’t mean just the usual culprits of drugs and alcohol, gambling, food, and sex. I mean anything that we rely on to temporarily numb the pain of our here and now. Of course, it’s not just the addicts who are doing the escaping. Non-addicts seek temporary relief through illicit affairs, online shopping, cosmetic surgery, online (or offline) porn, gaming, television, “selfies” and social media, overwork, obsessive working out, people-pleasing—the list goes on.

Using these habits and addictions as a means of coping may not have been an altogether negative thing, however, when you consider that they may have saved our lives at some point. Without my own use of excessive fantasy, masturbation, food, alcohol, and cigarettes as a child and teen, I might have been overwhelmed by the pain and destruction of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. But instead, my addictions kept me afloat until, as an adult, I was able to finally face and heal the buried pain inside.

Inherent in the human condition is the tendency to avoid uncomfortable feelings. Many people accept that life is filled with ups and downs. They would prefer to have only the ups, but they take the downs in stride. But many more abhor feeling anything uncomfortable and will do just about anything to avoid it. Unfortunately, escaping uncomfortable feelings by indulging in negative habits and addictions is ultimately unhealthy and unproductive—and it can be lethal.

Taking a break from the grind of our everyday lives is by no means a bad thing. I love a good movie with friends and will sometimes indulge myself with two movies in a weekend. We all need recreation and fun. But there’s a difference between healthy diversion and the inability to be present in our own lives.

The human condition is actually a spiritual condition (or, perhaps more accurately, a spiritual lack). It is a spiritual void that leaves us feeling disconnected from our divine source. We don’t believe—or, at the very least, trust—that there is a kind, benevolent, and loving force available and ready to supply us with an abundance of every good thing for our highest evolution. And because we mistrust and misperceive what this force is (or is not), we live lives guided by fear and base instinct.

Fear is faith in negativity. By living a life of fear, we create problems in our lives that cause enough stress to send us reaching for relief.

To successfully navigate our way through this life we have built, it’s important first to experience a lessening of our fear. Then we can begin to see ourselves and our lives, and the people and circumstances in our lives, more clearly. Only in an environment of safety and love is such clarity possible.

Next, we must explore the terrain of this human condition. We must come to understand our limiting beliefs, motivations, and actions. We must honestly assess the ways that we block our own success.

Finally, we must look beyond the projection of negative outcomes and take faith-filled actions—actions infused with trust in the probability of positive results. When we act with courage and faith, without the crutch of any addiction, we fully experience the presence of a loving, protective higher power in our lives.

My journey back from hell, while hellish in its own right, is the single most important gift in my life, because it has enabled me to touch the hearts of others who are living each in their own private hell. Guiding people through a process of awakening in consciousness, and an experience of freedom from their addictions and their pain, brings me great joy. Many of the ideas I share with my clients have been included in this book. I want to show you how you can embrace life and the gifts available to you right now. I ask that you open your mind to these new ideas or to ideas that, while not necessarily new, may be uncomfortable for you to consider. It is only by being willing to explore a new perspective that any of us can experience a transformation in our lives and in our world. I invite you to join me on this journey.

Order your copy of Roy Nelson’s “Love Notes From Hell”.