In the modern world, we feel increasingly vulnerable to addiction — from shopping, junk food, social media, pornography, smoking to substance abuse — it seems as if we are constantly trying to find something to distract ourselves for a sense of relief.
It feels comforting. It’s a safe place to retreat to, like a home.
We think that it would give us a quick fix to relieve ourselves from the pain or the loneliness we might feel.
An addiction shows an unconscious need to escape from reality, because ultimately, we can’t bear it. We are unable to withstand the present moment as it is — so we depend on something that we think would help us cope with reality.
‘Whatever the substance you are addicted to — alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person — you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain.’ — Eckhart Tolle
An experiment in the 1970s conducted by Bruce K. Alexander placed rats in cages with two bottles of water — one laced with heroin and cocaine, and one without. Once the rats were put into a fun cage called ‘rat park’, with wheels, cheese, and other friendly rats, those rats never overdosed on the drugged water. But when the rats were alone, had no companions or fun activities around them, was when they used the drug water compulsively.
It’s the same with humans. It means that if you are socially isolated, you are more likely to have an addiction.
Addiction is proof for our need to connect with something, since it’s an innate quality in human beings to bond and build a relationship with a particular thing. It proves the existence of a deep void you desperately want to fill.
My Experience With Food Addiction
In my teens, I was addicted to food. I had an unhealthy obsession with due to the point where I would think about it for every minute and every hour of the day. I couldn’t wait until the next time I would eat something, anything — a chocolate bar, ice-cream or even noodle soup. And my cravings got out of control.
This happened when I was trying to lose weight. I found that the more I stigmatized junk food, the more I craved it. I was constantly punishing myself and feeling ashamed.
Addiction has nothing to do with the substance, it is purely psychological. It’s the relationship you develop with that substance over time.
My food addiction continued for about two years until I started to radically change my diet and my perception about food.
I remember how good it would feel in the moment, once I tucked into that donut, and not being able to stop myself. I remember that I wasn’t even able to feel full, because I was just feeding this emptiness that kept growing deeper and deeper inside my stomach. Nothing could fill me up.
Binge eating gave me a comfort that nothing else could.
How To Overcome An Addiction
How many can sit alone in a room for 20 minutes without any distractions? It’s actually pretty difficult.
You will notice that your mind will start to wonder. You will start to crave certain things. It’s pretty hard to be still and not want to do anything — or have an empty mind.
- Live your life without your addiction for about two weeks and see how your body reacts. Watch yourself as if from the third person and see what compulsive behavior you might see. You’ll start to see how your body would react and realize how much control and power something has over you.
- Sit through the discomfort. Once you confront it, through the uncomfortable reactions of the mind and body, you will purge all of the inner desires out of you, like a form of catharsis.
- Being mindful, aware of the impulses you are having. Let them pass through you.
I find that being more mindful of my daily life, aware of my needs and desires, and being able to form meaningful connections around me and my community helps me stay in the healthiest and happiest mindset.
Originally published at https://chloelingmason.com on October 30, 2019.