One of the results of emotional self-abandonment is addictive behaviour.

Photo by Evan Phillip on Unsplash

Addictions are a way we compulsively and chronically numb our emotions. One thing you’ve got to love about humans is our creativity when it comes to self-medicating. We ignorantly assume that only drug addicts, alcoholics and compulsive gamblers have addictions, whereas we are hooked on food, work, shopping, drama, sex, exercise, the internet, rescuing others, surgery, worrying, planning, perfectionism, television – pretty much anything we can use to make us feel less vulnerable or distract us from our selves. We turn to various addictions to numb the anxiety, depression, emptiness, guilt, shame and anger that develops when we judge ourselves and ignore our feelings.

Continue to practice self-acceptance (we spoke about that yesterday). Don’t judge yourself for that anxiety, jealousy or whatever other emotion you discover. Instead lean into it.

As you are about to indulge in your addiction take a moment to identify the emotion you are trying to avoid. For example, if you discover that you want to reach for a cigarette because you are feeling nervous, become curious about the emotion and ask questions, such as;

  • Where is this feeling located in my body?
  • Is it concentrated in one place or spread out?
  • Is it static or moving?
  • Does it have a shape?
  • Does it have a colour?
  • Does it feel hot or cold?
  • Does it have a texture?

Once you have given it form breathing it in. Yes, imagine you are breathing in that nervous energy.  Welcome it, allow it, fully. Then exhale it fully.  Do this for 5 minutes. If you really go all in with this exercise the feeling will dissipate long before you get to 5 minutes. Afterwards see if you still need to reach for that cigarette, glass of wine, phone or whatever you use to distract yourself from unpleasant emotions.

If you decide to engage in your addiction be present with it. For example, don’t light up your cigarette then start playing on your phone. Be present. Smoke it and determine how it affects your emotional, mental and physical state. Maintain an attitude of self-acceptance as you indulge.

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