Addiction is the term given to a pattern of behavior that causes negative consequences for the individual.
Let’s get brutally honest today and talk about addiction. If you have already checked out or are considering the idea that this doesn’t apply to you because you don’t smoke or drink or do drugs, hold on a second!
We are ALL addicted to something – every single one of us.
Just because your addiction isn’t visible to others or just because you haven’t taken the time to explore your own addictions yet doesn’t mean there are none. Let’s get the magnifying glass out and peel away some of the layers of our personality to find out what I am talking about.
When I was growing up, my strict religion prohibited me from drinking coffee, tea, and alcohol. It was forbidden to smoke, do drugs, have sex, cuss or break the law. (Anything fun, I’ve heard lots of people say!) I complied with most of those rules and felt horribly guilty if I partook in any way. I saw the logic in avoiding ‘addicting’ substances and actions and I could see how adulthood would be much easier without having to battle an ongoing, lifelong addiction. I wanted to please the leaders and church.
Couple that with the fact that my dad was a “Diet Doctor.” I learned early on that I had to find a way to stay slim, not because my dad demanded it in any way, but because my inner voice was telling me I would be disappointing and hypocritical to not model the image of a thin person. I can remember from age 12 on, being very concerned with appearance (not health) and looking a certain way. I can honestly say I have gone to extreme measures, including over-exercising and inadequate nutrition to make certain my weight was in normal range. I wanted to please my dad and be the ideal of what it was he was working so passionately to help others with.
At the same time all of this was going on, I had a little voice in my head that was very demanding and bossy. I would hear the voice say, “You know, your mom was valedictorian in high school” or “Your dad had to be really smart to get through medical school in three years” or “If you get a C on your report card, you might as well hang it all up because you will never be able to (fill in the blank).” Keep in mind this was all going on in my head. Inside, not aloud.
So, with those examples, is it obvious which behavior led to addiction??
I was addicted to pleasing others, plain and simple. My choices were based on how I perceived someone else was going to react to what I chose to do.
The other major addiction that I didn’t even recognize for a very long time was a sugar addiction. Rather than getting my dopamine fix from any of the top 6 notorious and obvious addictions (because I was pleasing others with my strict adherence), I would replace meals with candy bars, bake treats for others so that I could have one (or 6), sneak sweet snacks in my purse, need a bite of something sweet upon waking up and late at night, and hide favorite snacks from my equally sugar-addicted children. It is embarrassing to admit and denial can be quite strong for us all.
Those are my two main addictions, even to this day. If I hadn’t had the courage to explore my own behavior and identify these issues in my life, along with some other self-destructive habits, I would still be ruining my mental and emotional health with people-pleasing and compromising and sabotaging my physical and cognitive health with excessive sugar intake – habits known to contribute to most all major illnesses and diseases.
So where to go from here? Identify yours. That is where it begins.
If you are female, chances are one of my addictions will resonate with you and how you have experienced life in some form or fashion. So many women are craving attention, acceptance, and unconditional love and are harming themselves in so many destructive ways.
Maybe it is something else, but find it. Once your addictions are out of the closet, there is no place left for them to hide. Once confronted, the journey toward self-mastery begins and the power the addiction once held over you will slowly begin to decrease, thought by thought by thought.
To get you started, I have compiled a list of obvious and not-so-obvious addictions. If you are really serious about becoming the person you are meant to be, you will explore each one on the list and explore it deeply. Remember, denial is the easy way out and most people will not have the courage to challenge the addiction with determination.
Tobacco/Nicotine – Cigarettes, cigars, vapes, pipes
Legal Drugs – Inhalants, Vicodin, sleep aids, laxatives, cough medicine, aspirin, opioids, cold meds, the next big supplement that will fix everything, maybe even addicted to TAKING something for everything which doesn’t allow the immune system to function correctly
Illegal Drugs – CBD, THC, LSD, Ecstasy, Cocaine, Ketamine, steroids, Heroin, or even just getting “HIGH”, whatever drug it is. The question is, can you function without it?
Gambling – Legal and illegal. What about sports betting? Fantasy Football? Lotto tickets? Or even just the attitude that as soon as ______ happens, all will be better.
Coffee – More than a couple of cups a day and you should maybe take a look at this. If you are a Starbuck fancy coffee drinker with whipped cream and sugar, you will probably have to explore the Sugar addiction as well.
Caffeine – Monster drinks anyone?? Even one a day might constitute an addiction. What goes up must come down, so I would guess there is a “crash” at some point. Also check iced tea, sodas, even chocolate.
Food – Obviously, this is a tricky, tricky one because it is the one addiction that cannot be stopped completely. If you are eating for any reason other than hunger, this should be explored deeply. Why do I eat? When do I eat? How do I eat? WHAT do I eat? What triggers the overeating? What constitutes a fix? How many times a day do I need a fix? What bad habits do I need to take a look at? When am I not even aware that I am eating?
Video games – Take a look at what it is that is appeased when you are playing games. Are you avoiding something? Are you escaping?
Internet/Social Media – Facebook anyone? Twitter? Instagram? What is it you are getting from this activity? Are you escaping reality? Bored? Needing friends and approval? Have you established a false persona or fantasy version of yourself as a means of distraction?
Netflix / TV / YouTube / Screen-time – Are you bored? Neglecting something? Escaping something? Living in a fantasy?
Sex/Pornography – Are you afraid of intimacy? Caught in a fantasy? Escaping reality?
Shopping – Such a big one! Do you need to have the best of the best? Next greatest gadget? Quest for the best bargain? Clothing, cars, jewelry to appear successful? Addicted to a buy now, pay later attitude? Overspending? Drowning in debt from all of this? Who are you trying to impress? Why?
Work – Are you under the false impression that what you do is who you are? Addicted to climbing the ladder? Perfectionist? Work to avoid something? Distract from something?
Exercising – Are you over-exercising to have a “GQ/Cosmo” body because society says so? Are you trying to punish yourself to the point of pain for some psychological reason?Perfectionist?
Busy-ness – Do you always have to be busy doing something? Do you feel if you don’t go/do/see you will miss out on something? Do you get fidgety when you have time on your hands?Can you calm your mind down in some way? Do you stay awake at night with your mind racing? Do you have to live by a list?
Judging / Criticizing / Arguing – Do you always feel you are right and they are wrong? Always? Do you have to get the last word in? Do you always find the worst in every situation? Always feel the need to correct people? Insist on “your way or the highway?” Nitpicking all the time?
Fighting – Are you always fighting with a particular person? With everyone? Is the back and forth never ending? What is it about that person that triggers you? Are you unapproachable? Do you assume everyone is against you? Why can’t you take a step toward common ground? Can you attempt to see other points of view? Can you understand where a person might be coming from even if you don’t agree with them? Why can’t you walk away?
Running – Are you a runner? Not in the sense of marathons, but from conflict, people, scenarios, difficulties, uncomfortable situations, problems, responsibility, etc.? When things get hard, do you take off? Why?
These are just a few ideas for you to explore. There are others. For now, let’s call out our addictions and face them head on. Next week, we’ll discuss the biology of addiction, what it wants, what it needs, and how to successfully manage it for life.
Contact us with any questions!