“We may think there is willpower involved, but more likely…change is due to want power. Wanting the new addiction more than the old one. Wanting the new me in preference to the person I am now.”
– George A. Sheehan
George A. Sheehan was a world famous runner and author on running. From his wise words noted above, you can see he had no illusions about running not being an addiction. Over 50,000 people ran in the New York Marathon this past weekend…all addicts. I noticed no one intervened to save them from their addiction. Instead they received applause.
A twelve year old…and he was an addict…
He was a twelve year old, poor kid from a large family and he was an addict! He delivered over a hundred newspapers after school every day…and on Saturday morning. He could then have an “allowance” like some of his friends. He was also an attentive, alter boy in the local parish church which helped him feel safe from the fires of hell…and where he made a few dollars serving at weddings.
A charge account, just for candy…
He thought he was the “cat’s meow”…ten bucks a week…a steady income from his first entrepreneurial business. He even had a charge account, just for candy…his favorite food, at the local corner store where he picked up his newspapers.
Two addictions and he didn’t even know it…sugar and religion…
So at the tender age of twelve this kid already had two addictions and he didn’t even know it …sugar and religion. He would go on during the rest of his life to pick up and drop many other addictions. Each addiction would serve him in learning to survive and develop his sense of himself. This kid was me! And…this kid is every kid and every person…including you!
Repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences…
We all engage in addictive behaviours. Our culture only notices the one that flaunt prevailing laws or values. Addiction can be defined as the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences. The severity of the adverse consequences will be determined by your value system or someone else’s. So any human behavior can become an addiction.
You were born with addictions…both physical and mental…
Since every behavior has a purpose addictions must serve our survival in important ways. The variety of addiction is limited only by human creativity. You were born with addictions, both physical and mental, which ensure your survival.
You were born with a body genetically addicted to safety, air, nutritious food, water, sex and movement. Try to not move any part of your body for only 20 seconds. You will notice very quickly how some part…your eye lid, your foot, your hand will twitch or move. Meanwhile your heart keeps beating, your lungs breathing, your cells experiencing mitosis (subdividing) or apoptosis (dying). It has been said the best definition of death is the cessation of all forms of movement within the body.
At the same time, you were born with a mind genetically addicted to: having the freedom to make choices, having the power to influence others, having to be loved and to love others and to be learning or have fun.
Seven kinds of addictions…
Considering the seven areas of life common addictions in each include:
Spiritual Forms such as – our religious practices and rituals, our focus on getting to heaven or avoiding hell, our striving to have pleasure without pain, wanting to be purposeful without paying a price, etc.
Mental Forms such as – our collecting diplomas, degrees and other credentials, our efforts to acquire new skills at any costs, our need to prove we are smart to avoid feeling stupid, etc.
Vocational Forms such as – our work-alcoholics, our efforts to get ahead at any cost, our striving to win without losing, etc.
Financial Forms such as – our effort to be rich without effort, our striving to be debt free or making a million, our wish to win the lotto, our desire to having everything we want, etc.
Social Forms such as – our wish to have loads of friends, our efforts to have no enemies, our efforts to be successful, famous, respected or revered, etc.
Family Forms such as – our desire to have a happy family at all times, our wish to have no conflicts, our efforts to have no illness in our family, etc.
Health Forms such as – our desire to exercise by working out or running, our efforts to be stress free, our wish to be healthy at all times, our efforts to have no pain or no illness, our wish to not showing signs of aging, our efforts to be able to do what you have always done or be able to look a certain way all the time.
“She goes from one addiction to another. All are ways for her to not feel her feelings.” – Ellen Burstyn
The addictions we notice…
The ones most noticeable are the ones which challenge our value system and so annoy us such as: drug addictions (crack, coke, heroin, prescription drugs, etc.), food addictions (bulimia, anorexia, etc.), sex addictions (nymphomania, prostitution, celibacy, porn, etc.), money addictions (gambling, shopping, debt control), sports addictions (playing or watching), exercise addictions (running, weight lifting, working out, etc.) and computer addictions (video games, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
“No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions.” – Patrick Kennedy
Positive and negative addictions…
The late Dr. William Glasser used to talk about negative and positive addictions. Negative addictions were those which moved you closer to sickness while positive addiction moved you closer to health. Dr. John Demartini however reveals the truth about addictions. The truth is every addiction is both positive and negative equally…which is why these behaviors will always be used by us to grow ourselves.
Past and present addictions…
My past addictions have served me well. As do my current addictions. Each has a cost and benefit to me. For example my positive addiction to exercise gives me energy, strength and flexibility. And, it also equally takes my time, my effort and my freedom to do other things. In the same way my negative addiction to sugar gives me pleasure, energy and fun while also giving me tooth decay, fat and guilt.
Addictions cannot be eliminated, only replaced…
You can’t destroy anything only transform it according to Albert Einstein. This same law applies to addictions. You can only transform one addiction into another form. You see this demonstrated clearly at Alcoholic Anonymous meetings where the new addiction can take the form of smoking, eating, having loyal friends or just being accepted for being ourselves…another addiction!
More on addictions next week! Stay tuned!
Check out the Take Away Tool to uncover some of your addictions.
POINTS TO PONDER AND REMEMBER are:
1. An addiction is the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences.
2. You were born physiologically addicted to air, food, water, sex, safety and movement.
3. You were also born psychologically addicted to freedom, power, love and fun.
4. There are many forms of addictions found in each of the seven areas of life.
5. You only notice those addictions which challenge your value system.
6. Every addiction, including yours, has equal positive and negative results.
7. Your addiction can only be replaced not eliminated.
8. Your addictions are important learning tools for your survival.