Last updated on April 3rd, 2021 at 07:04 pm
“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”
I’d say I have a bit of an obsessive personality at times—it operates in short spurts; I latch on to something for a little bit, thinking that it’s the best thing ever, but my short attention span will have me move on to the next thing as soon as I get bored of it. It’s probably part of the reason why I have bits and pieces of so many different kinds of projects scattered all over my office. I get so addicted to one thing at a time that I neglect all the other things that I could—or should — be looking after!
If there’s one thing that can vastly change who you are, how you act and think, and the things that drive you day in and day out, it’s an addiction. We throw the word “addiction” around so casually nowadays that it leaves one wondering if anyone knows what it really means. To quote from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an addict is someone who will”devote or surrender to something habitually or obsessively”.If we break that down further to observe the definitions for obsessions and habits…
noun äb-ˈse-shən, əb-
Definition of OBSESSION
1: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling; broadly : compelling motivation <an obsession with profits>
Definition of HABIT
7a : a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance
7b : 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?
We all have our addictions. They’re not all as easy to see as chain-smoking or reliance on hard drugs—but they’re there. NO addiction is a “good” addiction—some just take longer to consume us, but that is their function—to completely and absolutely take our lives over, leaving not but the need to feed the addiction! Looking at some of my addictions you’d see things like Mafia Wars, an addiction to attention and one to making sure I have absolutely every tool I could ever see myself needing. On the surface, they don’t seem to be much of anything, but when you spend hours playing a game to keep up with your teammates, you get bored when you need to pay attention instead of getting the attention, and you have a ridiculous amount of things that you only use once a year, it starts to show the effects of not being the most beneficial at all times.
It’s unhealthy to act simply by compulsion without the logic or rationale 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?
Sometimes we can’t help ourselves. Each and every one of us has things that we do in life—despite knowing that they may be bad for us, or that we don’t want to do them; or perhaps even that we’re ashamed of doing them—but we simple do not have the strength to fight our urges.
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!
3 WAYS TO ATTACK ADDICTIONS
1: FIND A BUDDY
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
Maybe your addiction’s taking a toll on your health. Maybe if anyone found out about it, you’d be pushed out of your social circles. Whatever the reason is, there’s a reason why we separate addictions from normal behaviour, and you need to figure out what that means for you. There are consequences for each and every action you take in life, and unless they’re significant enough, they won’t dissuade you from doing something that you might not want to do. So search long. Search deep. Somewhere within you is the answer you’re looking for.
3: IMAGINE YOUR LIFE FREE OF THE ADDICTION
There is life beyond your addiction! Imagine what it would be like to not compulsively do the things you’re doing in order to fulfill a need that’s taken hold of you. Imagine the things you’d be free to do—the things you’d no longer need to hide from anybody! You need to be able to clearly see this as a reality that you can attain, and keep this image as your driving force to help you kick your habit!!!
Quashing an addiction isn’t impossible—it’s just damn hard. But by confiding in the people you trust; by seeing your addiction for what it is—only then can you start to live a life without it.