We can quite literally be addicted to anything.
We can also not be addicted to things that others may be, or that may be considered socially ‘bad’.
Addiction isn’t really about the drug or habit, though our bodies may have very real physiological reactions and withdrawals.
Addiction is foundationally about chasing-after and/or rejecting some part of ourself - and there is always an emotional element that points to this.
(Check out the work by addiction expert, Dr. Gabor Mate for more…)
If we shift our perspective to notice this, we can see, and somatically experience, that when our addiction is activated, we are chasing after a ‘high’... a positive feeling… whether it's through drugs, alcohol, shopping, gambling, food, sex, workaholism, excessive exercise, fantasy, TV, social media, gaming, even self-help and spiritual teachings can become addictive.
Even therapy can be addictive!! And... my recent realization… psychoanalyzing scenarios with my girlfriends, instead of actually showing up embodied in my reality. I've been 'addicted' to my mind. *Sigh*
This is soo very human though. *Relief*
And, it's prized in many circles and societies! We value and prize intellect so much that we literally give awards, medals, tests of hierarchy for those we deem as the most 'intelligent' or 'thoughtful' etc.
Addiction to the mind, to believing our thoughts, to figuring things out, to chasing after knowing and certainty and clarity is the most insidious and subtle form of addiction, from my experience.
My instinct tells me that therapy and psychoanalyzing/pathologizing is addictive on both sides - both friends, both the client and the therapist - both can get 'stuck' in mind-addicted states. Mental masturbation. We think it's helpful, but when it becomes something we get addicted to, we actually turn it into the thing we use to avoid facing what we're talking about.
This explains why talk-therapy helps to a certain extent, but if it’s not used in conjunction with embodiment practices, it only does so much good. And then people can get ‘stuck’ in talk-therapy for years.
Embodiment is about you having the tools for yourself to navigate your own emotional, feeling and sensational world so you can feel when you’re chasing/in active addiction, vs when you are merely authentically inspired & motivated (there is a beautiful word for this, pratibhā in Sanskrit); seeking a clearer perspective through which to view and experience life.
Truer perspectives feel good… but not in the addictive sense. They feel clean and clear - and, sometimes not what we want to see - but the clean & clear feeling is present underneath our preference for it to be different than reality.
When an addictive state is active, there is almost always a manic, frenetic or heightened quality to the chase - even if it's subtle. And there's consistently a release of this heightened sensation when we get what we're addicted to... and then when the good feeling is gone that we chase after, we feel a depression/low energy/tired.
Feel it - next time you feel even just a bit 'extra' or like you might be chasing after something - even if it's 'good for you'. And notice if there's even a subtle 'come-down' afterward.
Simultaneously, there is some aspect we are trying to avoid or not feel… and again, you can tune into it. It may be subtle or hard to notice especially if your addiction is especially activated. But just start paying attention…
We avoid or run away from things we don’t want… pain, suffering, trauma, negative thought loops, abuse, neglect, facing our messy reality as it is…
If you are honest with yourself, you will see this.
Yeah, I know it’s not fun, and we’d rather feel good… that’s why we get addicted!!
But ultimately this cycle of addiction can cease, only if we are willing to dive deep and peel back the layers of subtlety of the cycle.
If you are rejecting any part of your reality, you are still going to likely fall into some sort of addictive behavior.
If you truly want to be free from activated-addicted states, be devastated by fully letting go.
Even the lesser-of-evil addictions like exercise, work, therapy, spiritual and self-help teaching, mental masturbation.
AND, let go of perfectionism. As they say in 12-step programs, "Progress not perfection". I would refine this to say, "Acceptance, not perfection".
Because even the notion of ‘progress’ for someone in an activated-addicted state, we will be subtly chasing after/rejecting aspects of life/ourself. If there is 'progress' to make in my personal growth then, 'I must keep going to therapy and figure out what's wrong with me so I can fix it and get better and then I will be happier and my partner will be nicer to me and I'll have more energy...'
With acceptance of your reality as it is, we can get out of the endlessly torturous 'right-wrong' mindset. And in an accepting state, if you find yourself intrinsically, instinctually motivated or inspired (pratibhā) to move toward healthier habits, do so!
Pratibhā will guide you.
Acceptance is not complacency. Acceptance is being fully present and alive with what is present in your reality, right now.
And then, with full present acceptance, if you feel intrinsically motivated or inspired to do something, or not do something - listen to that. that is the place from where we can trust our actions.
If you have trouble feeling pratibhā in this deeper sense, look in easier areas of your life, or seek guidance from someone you trust.
Message me if you have trouble sensing this inner guidance, with a specific scenario and I’ll be happy to share any insight I have!