You know that phrase – Bring It On? Well that’s what I say to addiction, Bring It On. Most of us think of addictions as the dark evil attic, a place that we need to snuff out, fix or destroy. We all experience addictions, both positive and negative. Sometimes we think of them as good habits and BAD habits.
Our addictions are the intersection of mind and body. But we have an issue in our understanding of mind body too and I’m not speaking of mind as the brain. I’m speaking of mind as spirit or soul. The mind definition can get complicated so for this discussion we are going to use the mind as spirit or soul definition. We think of ourselves as a mind and a body; two distinctly separate entities that look something like a body carrying around a brain with the brain executing the tasks and our limbs adding support. How much further from the truth could we be? Feeling the integration or embodiment of our systems is also one of our greatest struggles.
And this is the beauty of addiction because this is where mind and body, body and soul collide, a brilliantly designed strategy to get us to pay attention!
Some of the ways that we express disembodiment is by over use of stimulants; some legal and some illegal, like prescription drugs, illegal drugs, alcohol, caffeine, technology, food, TV, over exercising, negative self talk and being busy. Overuse of these substances and actions can also be called addictions.
The definition of addiction is the use of a substance to mask pain with an undesired result.
For our purposes in this blog, I’m not going to call them addictions. If we call the use of these substances an addiction there is a tendency to intellectualize their use and to say ‘oh I’m addicted or so and so has an addiction. I need to quit drinking or I can’t buy chips because I eat the entire bag.’ At that point we don’t investigate the reason that we are attracted to a substance to try and feel better, to sweeten the pain or to just repress the pain. We try to fix it with a pill and think of ourselves as broken.
Let’s think of the addiction as pain or the addictive behavior as our body speaking to us through the overuse or indulgent use of a substance. Let’s just use overeating as our example since it is so common. Standing in front of a cabinet with a bag of potato chips and eating them one after the other is a form of disembodiment. We have all done this whether it was in front of a cabinet, the TV or at a party. Doing it every once in a while is not a big deal, but doing this every night or three nights a week or whatever the rhythm is because you hate your job and you want to repress that feeling can be a big deal.
Wanting to drink everyday at 5PM or after work is not about a specific time, it’s about a habit that is weaving a cocoon around our life. If once in a while you had a drink at 5PM or met a friend or loved one at that time and had a drink then that is not a disguise for repressing life’s signals. Much of our behavior is surrounded by norms that we consider normal, such as happy hour. Happy hour can be many things and if occasionally we want to go to happy hour that is great, make it a happy three hours if possible. But going in a daze so that you don’t have to deal with your life or going as a disguise for repressing life’s signals is disembodiment and a call out to be heard on some level.
Start by noticing a chronic behavior that does not result in a desired outcome. Don’t judge the behavior but begin to pay attention to what is happening around you both internally and externally as you reach for the stimulant. Carve out some time to spend with the stimulant. Slow down in the process and begin to notice everything about the stimulant and how you are reacting to it. After the experience with the stimulant, no matter what it was…too much TV, rushing, alcohol, a bad relationship etc, take a little more time to write about your feelings during the process. Again, no judgment, just write with stream of consciousness and let whatever is inside out on to the page. You don’t need to read it, but if you do want to read it, wait at least a week.
Finally , observe how you feel after completing the ritual of taking time with the stimulant, observing it and writing about the experience. If you need to go through this process again and again and more than likely you will need to, then do it and observe any changes or desires that simmer to the top.Bring on the addiction, observe it, write about it and don’t think I’m crazy, but thank it for coming into your life because it is hear for you to listen to it.