Addiction! The dictionary defines addiction as “to be addicted/indulged to some sort of substance or activity”. So, the addiction may be the misuse of substances or to be engaged in some sort of activity day by day which is harmful. It may be too much of playing video games for hours which impacts your productivity in a negative way or any other activities which give no productivity in return.
Addiction is not just smoking, drinking, overeating, but it might be subtle as living in your head all the time thinking about only trivial matters, negativity, indulging into gossips, or complaining all the time. It might be anything which consumes the productive time and impacts in a negative manner.
I don’t claim myself to be a perfectionist. Yes, I do admit that I am addicted too. I am also like many others trying to overcome and let go off of my addiction. Sometimes we may not know that we are addicted because many times it is a subconscious act.
Some people, as much as they force themselves to be HAPPY but no matter what they do it might not last, it’s because harder they try, they are HOOKED to negativity, which leads to being unhappy. They might force themselves to be happy but on a deeper level, in their subconscious, they are ATTACHED to negativity and unhappiness.
What Causes Addiction?
Let’s talk about the reasons why people are addicted. So, why are people addicted? I gave a lot of thoughts and contemplated in the very issue.
In the words of famous psychologist Sigmund Freud “the mind is like an iceberg it floats with one-seventh of its bulk over water” which means our conscious mind is only one-seventh of our subconscious.
Further reading: No Sugar Challenge!
In many ways, addiction might be a quick escape from reality. For a cocaine addict, the cocaine enhances our mind to another level. People who use cocaine don’t feel any pain or emotional trauma when they are high in cocaine. In order to escape all those pains/worries/troubles or any other negativity, they use cocaine as relief material. As myself being a cigarette addict in the past, I was not aware why I needed to smoke cigarettes.
One day while I was smoking, I tried to be aware of the smoke that I was inhaling. From that time onwards, I committed that every time that I smoke cigarette, I would be aware of the smoke, the taste, the feelings of smoking. Then as you might have guessed it was not pleasurable. Obviously, it tastes terrible; it raised the blood pressure in my body instantly.
Then I noticed it was my habit to escape, escape from the pains and stresses of my body and my mind to not feel my body, to be disconnected from the world just even for a brief moment.
It is the way to escape from undesirable feelings. Another example; let’s imagine being at the party. People are having fun; dancing, socializing and doing all sorts of activities. You being a shy person you feel anxious, scared to socialize and dance, hesitant to let go off of yourself from your mind and body.
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How do you feel? And then what do you do?
You take that glass of drink at first you start with one it might not make you lose, then you take another one and another and another one till you don’t feel your body and mind, till you numb all those feelings of fear and anxiety, till you escape from the confines of the mind and body.
And then you socialize, dance till your legs hurt, feel happy and joyful. But the feeling is momentary. The next day you wake up feeling jaded, tired and hungover. You may not even remember anything from the previous day, then you go to work and again being anxious about people around you, you may feel like escaping those feelings, then you feel the feelings from the day before of that moment when you didn’t feel anxious.
Then slowly after days and months, you find yourself being an alcoholic person who won’t function without alcohol. To escape from the feelings of your own making you slowly become alcoholic, I am not saying not to drink ever but be aware of your drink. Just asking a simple question; why am I drinking? might be a good start. Is it to escape or run away from pains and feelings or is it just to have fun with friends and family?
As much as you want to deny this fact that all the living beings on this planet, we all are chasing pleasure and running away from pain. Chasing “Happiness” if you may. Happiness cannot be attained by chasing.
HAPPINESS is already inherent within us.
Happiness is not an emotion but it’s a continuous being of the state, it’s not something you chase. The more we chase, the farther it goes.
Another example would be an addiction to the phone. Whenever we are bored, we take our phone out and scroll mindlessly through the feed. We may even spend hours and hours without consciously knowing it. When we wait for someone or you are in-line you cannot fight the urge to take your phone out and check notification. Then in another second, we might not even know that we are playing games on our phone not for fun but out of boredom (habit).
Sometimes if you have noticed I used to do this a lot out of addiction. I pull out the phone from my pocket and check out the phone and I don’t even know what the fuck was I checking, and then again I put the phone in my pocket and again after few seconds, I used to get it out. Out of boredom, the phone became escape from that simple little escape, it became my habit and soon I was addicted to my phone.
So, any addiction maybe some sort of escapism.
How to overcome Addiction?
All I want to address here is you may not know you are addicted to something unless you are aware of it, aware of your habits and behaviors. Not functioning on autopilot doing the same activity day to day without being aware of one’s own presence, not being conscious. I think the first step to letting go of your addiction is to be aware of one’s own habit and becoming aware, conscious and finding out what am I trying to escape from? Why am I using this substance? Or why am I doing this activity? Is it necessary? Does this benefit or harm me?
The first step has to be AWARENESS.
Further reading: Good habits to follow and bad habits to avoid!
How do I be Aware?
It’s not easy being aware all the time, isn’t it? Awareness, as defined in the dictionary, is “knowledge or perception of a situation or a fact” but is it just it?
It goes way deeper than that. For me, to be aware is to “be conscious of own presence and everything going around me”. I have this exercise in which I learned doing some breathing works in order to be Aware.
Let’s just ask ourselves; how many times a day that we are aware of our own breathing? Sometimes, the answer might be “not even a single time”. For me, it has helped a lot, just for a moment pause whatever you are doing and give your undivided attention to this exercise.
Let me share a simple tip. When you are breathing, just count in-breath as one and out-breathe as two and so on. When you reach count ten, then start all over again from one. Do this for a total of three rounds and after that take a deep breath in and out, then see yourself becoming aware of every activity that you are doing. It might be a mundane activity that you “have” to do in the initial stage.
But trust me, after a week of doing this activity, when you are about to smoke that cigarette, about to check your phone every two minutes, about to give in to gossips and negativity, you will be more aware and conscious. I don’t claim that this will immediately stop your addiction, but it will give you a new perspective, make you aware of your habits, stops you from running in autopilot. And hopefully, make you notice the thing that you are trying to escape by using that substance or doing that activity.
Further reading: How to Quit Smoking?
Escaping the addiction!
After being aware, it is easier to let go off of your addiction and bad habits. This much for today! Even though there are other many steps to completely let go of your addiction, in this article, I have stressed on being more Aware in life. This is what helped me a lot and I am also trying to let go of my other addictions. So, let us help each other to get rid of the unnecessarily bugging addictions which are pulling us down!
All the best everyone!