“An addiction is any behaviour you can give up anytime…except now!”
King Ayles – Author
“I am a sex addict!” said Malcolm with a very serious, sad face.
“So am I…isn’t it great?” I responded with a half smile…to see if he was still in touch with his sense of humor. Not a chance!
“Ken, you don’t understand, I keep having sexual relationships with one woman after another and I can’t stop!”
So I said, “Why would you want to stop Malcolm…it’s natural?”
“Well, it gets me into trouble!” He added.
“With whom?” I asked?
“My wife!” He blurted out.
“Oh…you’re married!” I retorted, “Now I see your challenge!”
And so began our discussion of his addiction.
An addiction is the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences. Malcolm’s commitment to his marriage and his guilt were not enough for him to change his behavior…at least yet.
Addictions are behaviors we perceive will contribute to our biological or psychological survival. Since addictions are rampant throughout our species and are essential for our survival; the only real difference between people is in the forms they take.
Everyone is really a collection of both negative and positive addictions. They come in many varieties. We have a positive addition to air…without it we die within minutes. We have a negative addiction to alcohol…its destroys our body’s brain and liver cells, distorts our thinking ability and makes us clumsy.
New addictions are emerging constantly. There is already talk of negative “video game” addictions among youth. There was a report this week of people depressing from their “Facebook” addiction.
Addictions motivate us…
Every human is born biologically addicted to air, water, food, sex, movement and safety. Then we also have psychological addictions of freedom, power love and fun. These addictions motivate us to use specific behaviors repeatedly, either consciously or unconsciously, to help us survive and live within our own value system.
Every addiction, regardless of whether it is viewed by society as positive or negative, can be both since the perception is determined by the observer. So like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so also are addictions. You will see any behavior supporting your value system as a positive addiction and anything which challenges your value system as a negative addiction.
So Martin, a hockey coach, did not perceive a player as addicted to their sport regardless of how it endangered their physical well being from repeated injuries. So also, Madeline did not see her student as addicted to good grades regardless of how much it endangered his social well being of having close friends.
In the same way, many people who regularly watches TV sports by the hour rarely perceives it as an addiction regardless of how much it may endanger their family or social relationships. So also, many people who play sports competitively rarely perceives their sport as an addiction regardless of how much it endangers their relationship to their significant others.
“We are addicted to our thoughts.
We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.”
– Santosh Kalwar – Author
Addictions and your value system…
In the same way, someone can perceive any of your behaviors as a positive or negative addiction if it supports or challenges their value system. This is why we have conflicts of all kinds – individuals and groups trying to impose their values on others. Such conflicts come from one or more addictions. Have you noticed all wars are caused by addictions to a specific way of thinking.
We don’t consider our behaviors, or those of others we perceive supporting our value system as addictions. But they can often be viewed as addictions by people with a different value system. For example, Bill, a jogger devoted to running 50 kilometers a week views his behavior as a positive addiction while his spouse may view it as a negative addiction. The same behavior but two unique value systems judging it in opposite ways.
If you perceive your partner as watching too much television, sleeping too much, or eating too much broccoli, you could view them as displaying addictions. While society give special attentions to some which interfere with community values, there are others which don’t and so are not viewed as addictions…at least not yet. For example, watching television is consideration by some to be a recreational activity while to others it has become a negative addiction running their life.
Addictive behavior is permanent…we simply transform them!
Since our universe does not tolerate vacuums and the law of conservation prevails throughout nature, we really can’t get rid of an addiction. We can only replace it with some other behavior. There are seven kinds of addictions manifested in the seven areas of human life: spiritual, mental, vocational, financial, social, familial, physical.
You can transform an addiction with the same area (e.g., within mental) or between areas (e.g., from mental to familial). Please note addictions don’t create a better person or a worse person…they create a wiser, more appreciative and evolved person.
Let me offer some brief examples of a couple in each area so you can see how people replace a former addiction with a new one.
• Bartholomew transformed his spiritual addiction to his religion into a vocational addiction of advocating for gays within his church.
• Tiana transformed her spiritual addition to getting to heaven into a social addiction of helping the less fortunate.
• Melanie transformed her mental addiction to being protected into a familial addiction of protecting her self abusive daughter.
• Phyllis transformed her mental addiction to avoiding family responsibilities to a social addiction of helping others with addictions.
• Raymundo transformed his vocational addiction to having career success into a financial addiction of hoarding money and objects.
• Jenny transformed her vocational addiction to proving her own abilities into a mental addiction for self advocacy.
• Raj transformed his financial addiction to making money to a familial addiction of caring for an injured daughter.
• Sylvia transformed her financial addiction to shopping to a familial addiction of being a responsible partner in her marriage.
• Betty transformed her social addiction to personal fame into a mental addiction of challenging the competence of health professionals.
• Lena transformed her social addiction to career success into a familial addiction of protecting her children from their abusive father.
• Tammy transformed her familial addiction to being a mother into a vocational addiction to helping others nurture their bodies.
• Jim transformed his familial addiction of finding his birth parents into a familial addiction of caring for them in their last years.
• Ben transformed his physical addiction to playing hockey to a mental addiction to prescription pain medication and family support.
• Christine transformed her physical addiction to smoking to a mental addiction of running and working out.
“People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught pain is evil and dangerous…Pain is meant to wake us up… Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you…You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.” – Jim Morrison poet & singer
Back to Malcolm’s sex addiction…
Remember Malcolm with the mental addiction to sexual affairs. He transformed this addiction into a familial addiction of a devoted spouse who rebuilt his relationship and worked diligently to honor it and his own commitment to his family values. He became more appreciative of his partner and a wiser, more evolved spouse and grandfather.
There was no mistakes in his sexual addiction. It was his tool to grow his appreciation of himself, his spouse and his family. Because of his experience which created his value system he needed to use a sexual addiction to grow his sense of himself and his appreciation of his life and those with whom he shared it.
Next time we will look in more detail how individuals, like you and I, use our addictions to grow ourselves.
So the POINTS TO PONDER AND REMEMBER:
1. You are a sex addict with an innate, biological need for sex.
2. Your addictions create important learning opportunities for you.
3. Your addictions are behaviors you perceive will contribute to your biological and / or psychological survival.
4. Your addictions motivate you to grow your self worth, self appreciation or self confidence in some important way.
5. Your value system will determine what you consider as an addictive behavior in your self or others.
6. All your conflicts, past, present and future, are linked to an addictive way of thinking you
try to impose on someone else.
7. You can’t create or destroy any behavior, so you can only transform an addictive behavior into another behavior.
8. You can’t eliminate your addiction but you can transform it and thereby evolve your sense of self.