Are you addicted too?

"We're all addicted to something.” Do you agree? 

"Addiction is a condition in which a person engages in use of a substance or in a behaviour for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behaviour despite detrimental consequences." Psychology Today

Life can be bloody hard can't it? We find ways to cope, to escape, to numb out. It's a natural response to overwhelm and a way to deal with our culture of work more, have more, party more, do more...So often we just want to escape from the humdrum, the stress of life. And from our dark, upsetting, unsettling thoughts. We want to keep those thoughts under control.  Those thoughts that threaten to bring painful feelings of sadness, despair, grief or shame to our door. We don't want to deal with them so we engage in behaviour that is bad for us, and even when we know it’s bad for us we don't seem to be able to stop do we?! From the overworked, stressed out office worker who 'needs that glass of wine' every night to 'wind down', and the ‘sugar addict’ (guilty!) to the compulsive gym goer obsessing over calories burned and fat to muscle mass ratios. Even just turning on the TV as a distraction, is a form of addiction.

How can we heal from our addictions? How can we lessen our dependency? I think it starts with feeling more able to face those difficult thoughts and feelings. To be brave and to be able to sit with them. Not avoid or run away but allow. To see what is and allow sadness, loneliness, loss, guilt and any other 'wrong' feelings and thoughts to just be there (it’s part of the normal human experience to have these uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, we all have them!) And if we can show these thoughts and feelings kindness and explore what lies behind them, what is it we are really longing for, what is the hole, the need, that our unhealthy substitute is filling we can start to understand what it is we are really crying out for. Sounds good in theory right, kind of makes sense that if we do that, sit with it, understand it, we can then work out how to develop new healthier habits and ways of being. But where to start? I say start with whatever works for you. Sitting quietly with your thoughts, practicing meditation or mindfulness (which is really simply noticing what arises) or writing about what you are feeling, thinking, experiencing or tuning in to your thoughts, feelings and emotions in a yoga class, dance class, walk in the woods, out on a run - be curious, look underneath the emotion, explore what it’s really about. You can’t change something you aren’t fully aware of, it just won’t work.

The wonderful spiritual teacher Tara Brach is the number one woman for me when I need help with connecting to my true thoughts and feelings, check out her talks and blogs.

Sarah Taylor