“Why everything that’s supposed to be bad make me feel so good?Everything they told me not to is exactly what I would
Man I tried to stop man I tried the best I could
But (You make me smile)”
–Kanye West, “Addiction”
ob·ses·sionnoun äb-ˈse-shən, əb-Definition of OBSESSION1: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling; broadly : compelling motivation <an obsession with profits>
1hab·itnoun ˈha-bətDefinition of HABIT7a : a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance7b : an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary <got up early from force of habit>7c : addiction <a drug habit>
So in looking at these, what can we learn about an addiction?
- One is ruled by an addiction
- One does not act when they are addicted, instead they carry out actions as governed by their addiction
How do you battle an addiction When you simply can’t help yourself — when your actions feel less and less like they’re your own and more like an unseen force is guiding you to do things — even though you might get less and less enjoyment from them as time passes — what can you do to regain control of your life?
It’s unhealthy to act simply by compulsion without the logic or rational to justify why you’re doing things. Let an addiction control you for too long, and you start to navigate a slippery slope into a hole that gets harder and harder to climb out of.
Addictions don’t have to win, though! For some of the more visible and harmful addictions, there are programs focused on making people better.
Gambling. Drugs. Unsafe sex. Alcohol. All of these are things where you can find the help to get better, if you can admit to yourself that you want it.
But what of things like nail-biting? Crushes on unrequited loves? Garage sale hunting? There are a number of things that we all do near-uncontrollably but have no support in order to help defeat our demons. The difference between the big addictions and the little ones is that the big ones have communities associated with them. People who share the same afflictions and rely on one another to collectively find a way to get past their problems. Back when I bit my nails and looked for a solution, Googling always led me to the same things:
- put something bitter on your nails to deter you from biting
- get clear nail polish to harden your nails, making them harder to bite
- cut your nails more often to establish a different habit
In the end, it was only a pretty nasty fungal infection in a cuticle that got me to quit cold turkey — if that hadn’t happened, I’d likely still be doing it today.
And that’s the sad thing: without something drastic occurring, we’re not usually given the push we need to change our behaviours. Quitting something cold turkey is never easy, yet that’s essentially what we’re doing by not reaching out to each other by talking about the things bothering us.
So how do we fight this battle when it seems rigged for us to lose? When the resources available to us are so generic while we ourselves are so diverse, what IS there to be done?
Somewhere in our brains, we’re hardwired to do the things we do in life — our choices, reactions, thoughts, and even our addictions. But don’t let yourself be fooled — just as we can change our choices, recondition our reactions and transform our thoughts, we can gain the upper hand and annihilate our addictions!
There’s power in numbers. While most of the Internet has dealt with outputs of information and one-way conversations for a long time, it’s a lot easier to find people going through the same things as you now more than ever before! We need to leverage the resources at our disposal rather than continue to convince ourselves that we’re all isolated in the world and that no one will understand us. If you reach out to someone, maybe you’ll be at the same point in your journeys, maybe not. But there’s always knowledge, insight and support that can be exchanged between people — you just need to be open to it.
2: CONVINCE YOURSELF OF WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO CHANGE