What’s Your Addiction?

We usually think of drug or alcohol addicts when we think of addictions but you may be surprised on how much broader addictions are.

Firstly the definition of an addiction is “anything that compels you, in actions or thoughts, and you don’t feel you have control over it.” With this definition, it means that thoughts and feelings can be addiction as well!

If you can go with this for a moment, you see that all addictions are a reflection of a mental state, they’re either visible or non-visible.  The visible addictions cover things like food, sex, work, exercise, money and drugs. Non-visible addictions cover things like drama, worry, grief, attention and approval

The key behind these addictions, is that there’s always a perceived survival element that the mind creates. For example if you grew up in family where you derived love through eating, you may now find yourself overweight because it became an addiction to feel love in this way and therefore to survive (the mind is formed from childhood and so these perceptions of survival are instilled at that point).

We can usually tell when someone has a visible addiction (although not necessarily within ourselves), although the non-visible ones that are a bit tricky (and even more so for ourselves).

So lets look at some examples of the non-visible ones:
1.    Drama: lets say that as a child you found yourself in situations where you felt discounted and became a victim of situations and now as an adult, you still carry the victim feelings. These feelings give rise to situations in daily life that are seemingly beyond your control like getting delayed on your way to work because of a car accident that held up the traffic and as a result you miss your morning meeting with the boss. This has you feel angry, frustrated or helpless and you vent with a colleague through “complaining”. The drama that seemed to have nothing to do with you, now gives you the opportunity to be justified in complaining and this makes you right and the situation wrong and this actually feels good. It feels good because we feel power in being right and therein lies the addiction, to the power that’s underneath the situation (and of course the ego gets to survive in this also).
2.    Grief: lets say that as a child, you felt that nothing you did was ever good enough for your parents and now as an adult, you still carry the feelings of worthlessness in not being good enough. These feelings may lead to a situation with your partner, where they come along and see you working on something and say,  “Oh, why don’t you do it this way…” This triggers the old feelings of not being good enough and boom, you react by snapping back, saying something like “leave me alone, keep your comments to yourself, get lost, haven’t you got anything better to do, etc”. The reaction is usually out of proportion to the comment and there’s generally no conscious thought, simply an explosive reaction based on a need to protect yourself. The reaction arises from a place of power within you and this deep power is what feels good at a deeper level, it doesn’t matter what’s happening on the surface, the addiction again is to the power (and again your ego gets to survive).
3.    Worry: lets say that as a child you were constantly told to be careful that this or that might happen and out of that you created a belief system that the world was unsafe and now as an adult, you still carry feelings of fear or concern for how things will turn out if you take or don’t take a certain action. These feelings may lead to a situation where you meet a friend that is excited about a new business proposition and offers you an opportunity to enter it. You then do one of two things, either you agree out of fear of missing out (without doing your due diligence) and then spend a heap of time worrying about whether it was the right thing to do or, you are paralysed through analysis paralysis and don’t make a decision out of fear as you worry about all the possible bad outcomes that may eventuate. Either way the worrying puts you in touch with feelings from childhood and this has you feel a level of comfort and control because the worry pretends to be important and this again has you feel a power within you and thus the addiction is again to power so that the ego survives.
4.    Attention and Approval: lets say that as a child you felt that you were not given the love you needed and now as an adult, you still carry the feelings of being unlovable. This may lead to taking actions out of a hope that somehow others give you the love you need to fill the void and take care of the pain you experienced as a child. An example would be, you buy a gift for a friend and when you give it to them they don’t express their appreciation the way you’d hoped and this leaves you feeling resentful, hurt or angry, your action of giving was done with an expectation of a certain response or reaction so that you could get the attention or approval and thereby feel the love. When this doesn’t happen, it puts you in touch with the pain from childhood and the resentfulness, hurt or anger again puts you in touch with your power and so again the addiction is to this sense of power that is derived in such a way that looks like anything but power.

Essentially, each one of us is born into this world as light within the form of a baby, with limitless potential at our disposal. As we grow layers of limitations are placed over that light until the light is almost completely obscured as we identify with an ego. The effect is that we lose sight of the light (the Truth of who we are) and accept that this body and these circumstances are who we are. It’s not and it takes great power to create the illusion that shows us as anything other than the light.

And so, what I’m saying here is that whether we’re aware of it or not, we already have a knowing that we are extremely powerful underneath it all.  We simply haven’t become masters of that power yet, so we unconsciously use what we’ve learned from a very young age to access it and we did that through what we consider to be negative or unpleasant circumstances that take on addictive qualities on the surface, i.e. things we don’t have control over and are compelled to do.  The irony or paradox is that it’s these very situations that help us peel away the layers of limitation until we do allow the light to shine through.

In the next article I’ll discuss how to be free from addictions.

Angelo Campione is a writer and publisher of Mindfulness related articles. He has real life experience in dealing with emotional pain and now walks the path that has him live a life of Purpose, Joy and Freedom. He is passionate about helping to raise consciousness in the world and runs an online Mindfulness Series Free of charge.

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