ARE YOU ADDICTED?

“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.”
– Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist

Are you an addict? Would you know if you are? If you are, is it necessarily destructive? That depends on how you define an addiction?

There has been a lot of debate as to whether a habit is an addiction or an addiction is a habit. You’ve probably heard explanations such as, “Smokers go into withdrawal if they don’t get their cigarette fix.” “People who are extremely overweight just eat too much.” “Alcoholics have different body chemistry than me.” “She must be a miserable person because she complains about her life all the time.” “He must have nocontrol because he gambles.”

Much of what we hear implies that these behavioral patterns are rare and that they can only happen to some one other than us few `in control’ people. I want you to re-think that idea because, the truth is, you may be hooked on something right now and may not even be aware of it.

Stop and think about it.

Is there something you do fairly regularly that you wish you didn’t do? The obvious, of course, would be drug or alcohol abuse or excessive gambling. But, what about purging after eating, bad driving habits, being glued to your Blackberry all the time, splurging on lottery tickets, smoking, shopping for clothes to the point of debt, playing video games or spending all your time on the Internet, a nervous laugh that drives people up the wall, sex, consistently complaining about everything, yelling at others when you are stressed, watching too much television, procrastinating or even drinking huge amounts of coffee? And then there is one of the most overlooked addictions – love.

Love? How could that be an addiction? The answer is when love becomes destructive.

“There is an understandable resistance to the idea that a human relationship can be equivalent psychologically to a drug addiction,” writes Stanton Peele and Archie Brodsky in Love and Addiction.

Or, as Dr. Laura Russell puts it, “Most addictive relationships begin with a view of romance more like the movies than real life. You will never argue, disagree, or have the human failings of normal people…With addictive relationships you often have lots of drama with the obvious lack of literal honesty.”

When you have an addictive relationship, you have unrealistic expectations. People think that the object of their obsession can solve all their emotional problems and fix what is wrong in his or her life. It seems as though they can fill you up and make up for all of life’s disappointments. A person addicted to love might want their companion with them every moment of every day.

Can’t addictive love take the same role as a drug? Any person feeling an inner emptiness must strive to fill it.

In each of these `addiction’ areas, it may be a bit difficult for you to see the truth because – in order to see the truth -you have to censure your `rationalization’ and `justification’ of why you are the way you are.

You have to recognize when you blame others for your addictions and – stop doing it. You need to be willing to look at yourself with a very large, strong magnifying glass. You need to ask the tough questions:

Is there something that I am doing in my life, right now, that is hurting my health, finances or personal relationships? Your life is a mirror of the choices you have made in the past. If you discover that what you are doing is harmful, what can you do about it?

Even though some individuals are more genetically predisposed to develop certain addictions, it doesn’t mean they’re doomed forever to have the addiction.

The fact is – the tendency to develop strong, long-lasting habits is built into everyone. That’s why you have the habits you have. That’s the good news: you can change your habits.

You can change. But first, you have to want to change. You have to look at every area of your life and know, absolutely, that it’s time to do something. You may already really want to change. You may be at the point that you do recognize what you are doing is harmful but – no matter how hard you have tried in the past – you simply cannot stop doing it. Or, you may know it’s time to seek help because you have changed your behavior but you are still unhappy, feel incomplete and feel that something is missing. You may have decided to seek help because what drove you to the addiction is still not resolved.

The bottom line is that you have to recognize that you have a problem and then be committed to solving it. Only then can you help yourself by seeking guidance.

But what guidance should you seek, specifically? You want coaching to help you change the way you think because an addiction is about the way you think.

As psychoanalyst Mel Schwartz says, “The number one addiction is to our thoughts.” Mel is totally correct because from our thoughts flow our feelings and our behavior.

“The habitual groove of old thinking is not only thoroughly addictive, it’s precisely why we struggle with change.” Mel concluded.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started in overcoming your addiction:

  • Look at your life – truthfully -and notice what is hurting you – mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally or socially. When you find yourself justifying this destructive behavior – stop it. When you find yourself blaming someone else for your behavior – stop it.
  • Recall what people have been saying to you for some time regarding this issue. Those closest to you have a way of letting you know your addiction. You just have to hear it.
  • Seek out help. Find a coach, psychotherapist, psychoanalyst or psychologist to help guide you to change your thinking.
  • Commit to long-term support. Join a group. Meet with others who have a similar issue. Getting support to change your thinking and develop new habits is mandatory.

I want you to create the best life possible and to do that you must learn to manage your thinking. Get rid of what is harmful and develop new habits that are positive.

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