It may feel extreme to suggest that most of us have addictions. We tend to reserve that description & judgment for substances like drugs & alcohol. I used to think my need to catch up on the latest news first thing in the morning was just a counter-productive habit. But when I answered these three questions commonly asked at recovery centers, my perspective changed:
#1: Is your behavior harming your life? Yes. My morning news binge increases my anxiety, rage & feelings of overwhelm & helplessness; & those stress responses directly & indirectly compromise my relationship with myself & others & my quality of life in general.
#2: When you stop this behavior or substance, do you experience anxiety, stress, or other withdrawal symptoms? Absolutely!
#3: Have you taken steps to hide your behavior, or have you tried to stop this behavior but been unsuccessful? Yes, to both.
How would you answer these questions honestly with one of your “bad habits” in mind? According to recovery experts, answering “yes” to any of those could suggest a habit transforming into an addiction.
Addictions have been called habits on steroids. Maybe that definition applies to more of us than we imagine.
When I began to realize how addicted I was to that morning stimulation, that negative, often chaotic noise, I started asking myself, “Why do I need that to pollute my day before it even begins?! Why can’t I ease into my day with activities aligned to my values & aspirations?”
About the same time, I discovered a powerful quote by psychiatrist & author Dr. Anna Lembke from her acclaimed book, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence:
“We’re living in a time of unprecedented access to high reward, high dopamine stimuli, drugs, food, news, gambling, shopping, gaming, texting, sexting, Facebooking, Instagramming, YouTubing, tweeting. The increased numbers, variety & potency are staggering. The smartphone is the modern-day hypodermic needle delivering digital dopamine 24/7 for a wired generation. If you haven’t found your drug of choice yet, it’s coming soon to a website near you.”
Guilty as charged. How about you? Are you interested in helping yourself shift gears so your habits (&/or addictions) aren’t running (over) your life? If you are, I’d love to share a practice I created that helps me transition from stress-out to serenity.
Thanx for listening & responding…