We are all addicted.

Stop thinking about addiction only in regards to alcohol and drugs. Take a close look at your behaviors. Whenever you catch yourself doing something repetitively that you don’t even want to do, this would fall under an addictive behavior pattern. It can be sneaking junk food late at night, watching episode after episode of tv, obsessively cleaning, googling, and even working out excessively, etc. The good news is you are not your behavior patterns. That said, these behaviors are suffering as it is being used to numb feelings. And to make matters worse, it usually ends end up spiraling into a negative loop of beating yourself up. You perform the behavior to feel better or not feel and then wind up feeling worse. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, there is no such thing as selectively numbing. When you choose this dysfunctional coping mechanism all emotions positive and negative are numbed. The result is that you wind up not feeling alive. This is where online therapy can help. 

In online therapy, when I counsel clients struggling with addiction and addictive behaviors, it requires a multi-faceted approach. Destructive emotions such as anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, and anger must be addressed. Combining behavioral therapies with mindfulness meditation has proven to be extremely beneficial in changing addictive behavior patterns. Mindfulness is a powerful tool as well. The synergy of utilizing behavior therapy, in particular, rational-emotive behavior therapy, in conjunction with meditation and mindfulness is proven to be the most beneficial approach to break repetitive behaviors.

Once a client learns to not fear their destructive emotions and can sit with the changes to the breath, the body and the mind they learn to stop running. I teach clients how to drive down all of the above since running from the sensations and feelings associated with anxiety or depression or trying to repress anger can lead to addictive avoidance behaviors. Mindfulness meditation is extremely helpful in learning how to sit with uncomfortable feelings that arise within the body and mind. It is also utilized to learn how to change one’s relationship to whatever is happening. The mindfulness is used not only to be aware of what is arising but to track the urge and frequency to want to repeat the behaviors. Just by tracking when the urge arises and how much time is spent craving, one can begin to stand up to this wave of compulsion. This is empowerment.

Addiction is never about the substance or behavior. It is about the pleasant feeling tone associated with it. The craving is suffering. It is an endless loop.

The solution is NOT to hate or reject the substance or behavior. There needs to be an acceptance of how this behavior has fed you. Only through acceptance can there be change. Rejecting the behaviors or trying to get rid of behaviors will never work. It will make the pattern bigger and more stubborn. Yo-yo dieting is a perfect example of how this can play out. The result is usually weight gain in the long haul.

Compassion is a crucial element in the transmutation of addictive behaviors. Only by seeing the addiction as a teacher and an opportunity for spiritual growth can one begin to face the challenge of recovery.  The suffering of craving and addiction is what connects you to the suffering of all beings.

Falling back into the patterns is part of the process. But as you recover you will not fall in as often or go in as deep. Eventually, you have to recognize that the on-off switch is broken and there is no going in and out. The substance or behavior is just no longer an option. That is when you truly begin to break free.

Go Mindful Counseling offers compassionate and effective phone therapy and online therapy for anxiety, depression and addictive behaviors. We provide cognitive behavioral therapy near me, mindfulness based stress reduction, help with panic attack, anxiety attack and generalized anxiety disorder. Contact us for a free 20-minute consultation.


Margie Ahern
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