What’s your addiction? For me it was food.
It is an interesting thing to consider what the word ‘addiction’ means. I’ve asked myself, “If I eat a block of chocolate in a day, does that mean I am addicted to it?”
When I consider my answer what I notice is that I am eating the chocolate as a reason to numb or not feel something else. That might be that I am feeling unloved, or ignored, for example.
In the past I didn’t recognise that as the reason for my eating. I do now. Previously I would have told you that I simply LOVE chocolate. And it’s true, I do enjoy eating really good chocolate. I love the taste and the texture, and the feel of it on my tongue. It’s a sensual experience, eating good quality chocolate.
I would reach for chocolate to distract me. Deep down I know that. Just as I would make myself a cup of tea, or eat a couple of biscuits, or have an ice-cream for the same reason. Food and tea were, or should I say, are what I use to give me comfort.
[Tweet “I reach for chocolate to distract me from my feelings. What about you?”]
In my earlier life I got to a point of feeling so sad an unhappy during my first marriage that I started to have an alcoholic drink every day. For me who had never really enjoyed alcohol up to that point I began to notice that something was feeling wrong when I got into this habit. Isn’t addiction simply a habit?
The definition of addiction
[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”Psychology today”]Most addictive behaviour is not related to either physical tolerance or exposure to cues. People compulsively use drugs, gamble, or shop nearly always in reaction to being emotionally stressed, whether or not they have a physical addiction. Since these psychologically based addictions are not based on drug or brain effects, they can account for why people frequently switch addictive actions from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug behavior. The focus of the addiction isn’t what matters; it’s the need to take action under certain kinds of stress.[/pullquote]
It is interesting to read this definition of an addiction and see how I find it is true for me. What I notice is that when I feel ‘stressed’ about something, unsettled, anxious, or any other emotion in order to remove myself from feeling them I distract myself. In that I reach for my comfort food. My food of choice to feel comforted, in that moment.
It has been useful to trace what was happening in my mind just before I reached for the food or tea. To get in touch with the emotion I was feeling in that moment. This helps me to capture the thought that triggered my ‘addictive’ behaviour.
As a result of questioning my thoughts I have noticed how I no longer reach for tea, toast, biscuits, or chocolate anymore. I enjoy eating these now, sometimes. I no longer feel the need to have them, nor eat them constantly. And if I do, I notice what my mind is doing.
What’s your addiction?
What do you reach for when you are feeling unsettled or uneasy…
- a glass of wine or a cigarette?
- talking on the phone?
- spending hours on the internet, or computer playing games?
- having sex?
Do you notice that you combine a number of these together? Especially at times when you feel overwhelmed and completely unable to deal with the emotions that are sitting below the surface.
[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”Byron Katie”]An uncomfortable feeling is not an enemy. It’s a gift that says, “Get honest; inquire.” We reach out for alcohol, or television, or credit cards, so we can focus out there and not have to look at the feeling. And that’s as it should be, because in our innocence we haven’t known how. So now what we can do is reach out for a paper and a pencil, write thought down, and investigate. [/pullquote]
An addiction recovery program with a difference
If you are at all interested in investigating the feelings and thoughts behind reaching for something to numb your feelings, join our 12 steps to a better life from addiction using The Work of Byron Katie. This is an in person program running in Melbourne, Australia. The program is to support you to inquire into what feelings you are unable to get in touch with. We will all be part of a self supporting group to investigate our similar beliefs. It is the beginning of your journey to letting go of what you are reaching for. In a safe and supporting environment we investigate ourselves and our thinking.
I love that we can support each other to investigate those feelings hidden behind our addictions.
If you are interested in learning more about when the next six month program starts, contact me.