Just about every one of us is addicted to something, whether obvious or subtle, rampant or minute. Some are obsessed with TV, video games, their cell phones, or YouTube; some are addicted to sex, love, their significant other, or many insignificant others; some are possessed by work, money, shopping, socializing, or intoxicants; and some are addicted to self-judgment, to shame, to resentment, to anger. So are you aware of what you’re addicted to? And do you know why?
Addictions are ways for us to distract ourselves from anxiety and to temporarily soothe the anxiety. That anxiety is usually caused by a deeper pain. Pain that we don’t feel good enough or worthy of love; pain that we’re sad about something that has happened or is happening; pain that we’re afraid of something that might happen; pain around any and all feelings, memories, or experiences that we judge and do not like. So what feelings are you avoiding by being in your addiction? In other words: What would happen if you did not enact your addiction? What would be left? What would you feel in its place, without any distraction or temporary band-aid?
Next time you feel the urge to check your email, watch that video, make that phone call, solicit that partner, take a hit of that intoxicant, or enact any other addiction, see if you can pause for a moment and ask yourself: What if I don’t? What will I feel? And whatever the answer is, try just sitting with that feeling, being with it, honoring it, embracing it, allowing it to move through you, and relaxing into it. This may sound difficult—to suggest relaxing into sadness or fear or pain. But as the Buddhists say: “Before enlightenment, there is pain and suffering. After enlightenment, there is only pain.”
If you accept the pain, you are no longer in conflict with it and so you will no longer suffer as a result of it. You will simply feel the pain. And feeling your feelings will NOT kill you. Sitting with your feelings will eventually help dissolve the anxiety permanently. But the only way to be with your feelings—be it pain, fear, sadness, or any other unwanted feelings—is to stop perpetuating them by distracting yourself from them. Stop just one addiction today—just for one day, just one addiction—and see what comes to the surface. You may find the very feelings you're trying to avoid aren't as bad as you thought, and that the pain itself won't actually stop you from moving forward in your life, but rather give you a presence and power that you never before realized.
AFFIRMATIONS OF THE WEEK
I can live without this addiction.
It’s okay to feel whatever I feel.
I accept myself and my feelings, totally and completely.