As 2023 approaches many of us are choosing to reflect on how we showed up in 2022. I personally believe that regular self-assessment is a must for anyone who wishes to evolve and reach their goals. Some of the questions I periodically like to ask myself are:
Getting real about what isn't working is a way to point your compass in the right direction again and implement healthier habits. The same goes when approaching your addictions, which I am sure you are also looking to leave behind, right? Now, before you jump in and tell me that you don't have any addictions, allow me to challenge you to look at yourself deeper so you can gain some real insights and make lasting changes in your life. In this article we will look at what addictions are, what causes them and how you can ask yourself the right questions to start addressing them at their core.
We tend to mostly associate addictions with some sort of drug or substance abuse. However, addiction is much more common than we like to think. To a large extent, we are all pretty much addicted to something in some shape or form. If you think about it, you can be addicted to social media, work, feeling guilty, people pleasing, sweets, exercise, complaining, apologising, drama, certain people or relationships, instant pleasure, shopping, video games and the list goes on. However, if you look at addictions the right way they can turn into potential growth opportunities. In order to do that, it's important to understand that addiction doesn't stem from the thing you are doing, but from what is driving you to do that thing. In other words, your addiction is the symptom of a deeper conflict that you are not currently addressing.
Let me put this differently: the problem is not the ice-cream; the problem is what is driving you to grab the tub out of the fridge. One thing is treating yourself to some ice cream and savouring that moment, another is to reach for it because you need to comfort yourself and numb your feelings. The first behaviour is healthy, the second one is addictive. The ice cream in and of itself doesn't have the power to harm you, what determines whether it may harm you or not is your intention. In a nutshell, an addiction is a behaviour we resort to, in order to avoid facing something specific in a specific emotional environment. The real poison lies in what you are not facing, NOT in the behaviour you are reverting to, in an attempt to make yourself feel better.
Therefore, if you want to get on top of your addiction, you need to get clear on what that environment is and what you are trying to avoid through your addictive behaviour. Once you have detected an unhealthy behaviour or addiction, ask yourself the following questions:
For example, you might be at home with your parents and siblings, and find yourself in a situation where you feel that you can't truly express yourself. Therefore, you decide to make an exit to the backyard and grab a cigarette, or aimlessly scroll on your social media feed. That kind of behaviour gives you a momentary sensation of relief and freedom. However, although at first it may alleviate your discomfort, it is actually preventing you from addressing the real issue. So when, a similar situation presents itself again, instead of tackling what is really bothering you and, for example, finding the courage to say what you really feel, you will use that same behaviour as a way to numb your discomfort, only perpetuating the conflict further.
As I mentioned, in my earlier examples, you can also be addicted to people. A story that comes to mind is one of a student of mine, who when asking herself the above questions realised that she was addicted to worrying about her daughter and calling her often. As she delved further, she understood that she used that mechanism to avoid facing the void she felt in her marriage. She understood that she needed to address that void by reconnecting with herself, her needs and having some uncomfortable conversations with her husband to reconnect with him. That is what I mean by allowing your addictions to show you what you most need in order to grow. If you look at it that way, your addictions can evolve you.
That's why I highly encourage you to start observing where and when you tend to resort to the same kind of behaviours. It can be a good exercise to carry a small notebook with you, or even use your phone to take note of the moments in which you catch yourself choosing to "check out". When you see yourself going for that tub of ice cream, glass of wine, phone, credit card or whatever it may be for you, pause and ask yourself: What is bothering me? What am I feeling? What am I about to avoid facing? and, what do I need?Write your thoughts down, and you will likely see a pattern start to emerge. That is your ticket to start addressing the real issue.
Often times, the answer is changing your behaviour and the way you relate to your environment and sometimes the answer can be to change your environment. If you want to delve into this topic further, stay tuned for my upcoming podcast episode on addictions. The episode will be released on Wednesday 28th of December 2022. For now, I strongly encourage you to observe yourself and question your behaviours in the way we just learned, for all the answers are within you. You just need to ask yourself the right questions. And, of course, if you suffer from a severe form of addiction please also seek the professional support you might need in your recovery process.
Hi, I´m Dannie
A fellow soul seeker, blogger & certified BioNeuroEmotion® (BNE) practitioner who is passionate about growing, self actualising & learning in order to lead a more coherent/conscious life and help others do the same.