A majority of us are addicted to something

A majority of us are addicted to something.png

How often during the day, is your past calling?

Are you replaying the same old message over and over- Is your response to distract the same every day?

A majority of us are addicted to something- but have we ever considered why?

It is difficult to go through a day without hearing someone say, “I am addicted to ______.”

Lately, the one I hear most often is I am addicted to social media, followed by the internet, the latest television series, or their latest exercise class.

A client yesterday, shared with me, his frustration at all of these addictions as they are not the same as being addicted to drugs or alcohol as they do not destroy lives.  Hmm, I said.  I am not sure I agree with you.  “How, do those things destroy lives?”, he asked.

Easy- I answered, by distracting you from living your best life, by knowing who you truly are at your core.  From being with people you care about, from exploring where you live, traveling, meeting new people and the list goes on and on.

Yes, the word addiction can have different meanings to people, but I wonder if it should. 

For so many there is an image of an addict in their minds: the person who carries a bottle of vodka around in brown paper bag, the person who needs to sneak off to smoke marijuana just to get going in the morning or relax after an anxious and trying day, or the person searching side streets in an unsavory part of town looking for heroin.

We all have ideas in our minds of what addicts look like.  With the images above, we normally know this isn’t us and whew, what a relief that is.  It removes the addict from being us and that is good, right?

I look at addiction differently.  Addiction is anything that we rely on, to keep something that is bothering us, troubling us, that we are hiding from at bay.  I do not look at addiction as what someone is addicted to but more what do we do to avoid facing our past traumas or our shadow.

Listening to our own inner chatter, for most of us, is filled with anxiety, past hurts that we have not healed, and most definitely things we do not want to feel- most likely ever again.  There may be fear of what would others think of me if they knew this or that, or we could be filled with so much anger or sadness that we are just unsure if we can face it.

So many of us find it easy to judge those we deem alcoholics or someone who is injecting something into their veins.  Yet, have you ever considered what you are doing that takes the same amount of commitment?  Are you someone who has a drink every night at 5, or has to have a drink whenever you go out to dinner?  Are you someone with a counter filled with prescription drugs for this ailment or that?  Are you checking your phone every few minutes  or do you have to watch the news at 6 or 11 every night?  Do you find yourself playing games throughout the day to settle you down or maybe to keep you from this chore or chatting with your kids?  What about having to go to the gym every day for 1-2 hours or running 2-4 miles every day?  Are you someone who works constantly?  Have you ever considered the damage each of these is doing?  The drinking daily damages your liver and other systems bit by bit each day and lately the research is showing a huge connection to a predisposition to cancer and a slowing down of brain function.  In checking our phones, social media or the news, we distract ourselves from being silent and being in touch with ourselves, but we also become very focused on negativity that is being shown over and over and so many things that we can do nothing about.  With exercise, we are exhausting our bodies, so we do not have to listen to our mind/soul.  With work, we distance more and more from our inner selves and balance in our lives.  Yet, most do not see these as addictions.  Actually, a few of these are valued by many.

Again, most of us are addicted to something.

Ask yourself- when was the last time, I was able to sit in a room alone with my own thoughts, without distraction, allowing myself to feel pain, inspiration, excitement and disappointment.

If you cannot, you may find you are not any different than what you consider a “traditional addict.” In truth, most of us are hiding from something, that part of ourselves, that has experienced some form of trauma, some part of our self that we feel is not lovable, or in some cases, something that is buried so deep, we are not even sure what it is.  The beauty is, if you can see this in yourself, come face to face with it, we will see ourselves in others- which opens us up to be compassionate, show kindness towards others, and even more important, to ourselves.

Seeing ourselves and others in the same light, helps us to be more forgiving all the way around.  We have been so conditioned to judge, to rate, to believe some types of addictions are worse than others.  How sad?

Wounds are wounds.  Trauma is trauma.  It is really simple to see in these terms.  Each of us is just searching for a way to lose our fears, our hurts, our pain.  So many of us have been conditioned from childhood not to express our feelings, so we buried them deep and found ways to distract.  We keep running from sadness, loss, humiliation, sexual desires, trauma and pain- pain for so many that has debilitated them, that numbing out no matter the form is all they desire.

In some ways, addiction is what keeps us going. It isn’t to be judged, it is more about understanding.

Behind all addictions whether it is drugs, alcohol, smoking, sex, gambling, shopping, internet, social media, control, food, work, television, exercise, being right/know-it-all, business, collections, or anything else you find in your life that you do daily or over and over, is done because of something in us, we are just not ready to face.  For most of us that is childhood trauma. 

While it may not sound easy- the best thing we can do is face it.  Whether we do that by ourselves or with someone we can trust, (a friend, coach, counselor, Shaman, or spiritual teacher), once we begin to crack that door, so many amazing things will happen.  We will begin to feel, we will be getting honest, we will be able to begin showing up authentically and above all, we will begin to love ourselves.

Sangeet Ram