My earliest memories are of being afraid. I grew up in a rough town in the heart of Texas, and as far back as I can remember, I was under constant threat of physical violence—from my alcoholic father, kids in the neighborhood, kids at school—even the teachers.
From an early age I got the message that I was stupid, I was bad, and I was ugly—that I was unworthy and deserved to be punished. The painful feelings from my circumstances festered inside of me, but I was terrified to feel them. So I buried them in numerous ways—with food, cigarettes, alcohol, and making money, just to name a few.
By the age of 32 I weighed 275 pounds and depended on pills and alcohol to try and control the panic attacks and phobias plaguing me.
For years I sought help from doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, even spiritual teachers—but to no avail. I had run out of options.
One night my painkillers failed. I lay in bed, unable to sleep, wallowing in despair. I had nowhere to turn. I picked up a pamphlet that read, “Even if you don’t believe in God, if you ask for help, you’ll receive help anyway.” I had turned my back on the idea of God long ago, but I had nothing to lose. I cried out to this God that I didn’t believe in, and a peace came over me like nothing I had ever experienced. I was amazed. Miraculously, I was able to sleep.
From that point on, the excess weight, alcohol, and other compulsions lifted from me. I began a process of deeply emotional and spiritual healing that changed the course of my life forever. I eventually felt called to help others, using the same means—The Nelson Method—that had helped me overcome my problems.
The method I developed is based on the premise that addictive habits serve three primary functions: painkiller, escape, and punishment. A person uses unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, overeating, or drinking as a painkiller for one’s emotional—and sometimes physical—pain. Whether it’s painful childhood memories, difficult life circumstances, or incompatible relationships, if a person doesn’t have a healthy way to address this pain, he or she will self-medicate with negative habits.
People with addictive personalities tend to be easily overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. The addiction is used to escape one’s worries and fear. Punishment is the third function of an addiction. The addict carries a tremendous burden of guilt—either consciously or subconsciously—and believes that he or she deserves to be punished. While one’s indulgence may be considered as a “reward” at the end of a long, stressful week, if chronic use deteriorates one’s health, self-esteem, finances, and relationships, it has become far more of a punishment than a reward.
My life’s work is helping people address the pain, fear, and guilt that underlie their negative habits and unhappiness. This makes it possible for them to access Spirit within that can heal them and set them free. Establishing a morning practice of spiritual connection through meditation, prayer, and reading spiritual literature is a vital aspect of healing. Since I have enjoyed reading Daily Word for 40 years, I always recommend this wonderful source of inspiration to my clients, and they typically make it a part of their morning routine.
My journey back from my self-imposed hell, while hellish in its own right, is the single most important gift in my life. Guiding people through a process of awakening in consciousness and an experience of freedom from their addictions and pain has brought me unimaginable gratitude and joy.