You don’t have to read this if you don’t want to, of course.
However, if you relate to insatiable cravings – whether you use the word addiction or not – this can be a game-changer, if not a life-saver.
You’ve undoubtedly seen the image of a person with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, each trying its best to influence some decision.
Well, for someone with insatiable cravings or addiction, the devil pretty much has already shot the angel and sent it tumbling away, leaving its own voice the only one you hear.
It’s that loud, insistent, cunning voice I want to address today and how to get it to shut up, or at least lose its position as chief cook and life-destroyer.
The origin of the word addiction reveals its power and provides a way to defeat that power.
It has “ad”, that is “towards” as well as “dict” which comes from the root meaning “to speak”. Now, for those of you who studied lots of Latin, there are plenty of ways the Latin origin can be pulled apart, but basically this is what we get – the idea of a speaker pushing towards a specific determination, persuading you.
This is why addiction’s hold is so tight – it doesn’t play by the rules of logic or fairness.
All you can hear is that insistent voice that tells you why you should continue with the addictive behavior. It appeals to a part of the psyche that is rooted very deeply within us and which responds to whatever brings it pleasure.
There are physiological changes that occur in the brain that even precede the addictive behavior itself and that drives the continuance of the addictive behavior all the more.
Pretty damned scary, isn’t it?
Here’s the good news – an answer for many people dealing with addictive behavior which has proved effective time and again, is the strength of the “collective voice”
No, not like “We are Borg”, wrong collective…
I’m talking about the support that can come from having not one “angel” on your shoulder but a host of “angels”. The key is two-fold:
Provide a strong alternative voice that is as determined as the addict voice
Keep that collective voice in the forefront of your mind and keep it LOUD!
First let’s get that collective voice powered up:
Addictive behavior is often seen as shameful behavior by the person engaging in it and therefore is often not spoken of. In and of itself, that lack of ability to speak about it creates a vacuum or a barrier that gets harder and harder to break out of. So the solution is to find people who understand the same addictive behavior and are working to combat it – they are people with whom you’ll feel a sense of belonging, not “otherness”.
In understanding there is acceptance (far better than tolerance).
In acceptance there is dignity.
Keeping that voice in the forefront of your mind means connecting a reward to acceptable behavior:
Since addictive behavior has clear “rewards” (the excitement of the pleasure centers of the brain), our solution is to recognize the true rewards of breaking that addictive behavior and keeping this image fresh in your mind.
For some it’s freedom from the backlash of the addictive behavior which may be anything from the pain of self-loathing to the agony of inflicting suffering or worse on others, including those you love.
But there’s another type of freedom as well as “freedom from”, and that is “freedom to”.
Freedom to model a life that your children can see and emulate.
Freedom to enjoy the company of friends.
Freedom to be completely yourself.
Freedom to live your life fully, passionately, confidently.