Is there something you do where no matter how hard you try, you can’t stop doing it? If you answered no to this question, then you are superhuman. If you answered yes, then you are like every other person who struggles with some form of addictive behavior. For some people, their addiction(s) are very apparent like alcohol, drugs, smoking and food. For others, their addiction(s) are more subtle and often invisible like emotional abuse, manipulation, self-criticism, relationship abuse and so on. Either way, an addiction is an addiction. The dictionary defines it as the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming. Whoa, I don’t know about you, but my independent personality doesn’t like being enslaved to ANYTHING! So if we don’t like being controlled by addictions, why do addictions have control over us?
Well, I consider myself to be an expert on addictions because the list of addictions I have overcome is quite long including but not limited to: alcohol, manipulation, narcissism, food addiction, workholicism (made up word) and excessive caffeine consumption (yes, I count that as an addiction because I was drinking four energy drinks a day!). And no, I am not superhuman for overcoming all of these addictions. I had the following secret weapons to help me.
1) STOP TRYING TO BREAK YOUR ADDICTION: What? That’s right, the more you try to stop, the more you crave your addictive behavior. Have you ever said “I promise I won’t do that ever again”? The minute those words leave your mouth, you find yourself wanting the “never do that again” thing more than ever. Take dieting. Charisma and enthusiasm carry you through the first couple of days and then you find yourself knee deep in Krispy Kreme donuts (that aren’t on your diet). I was watching an old school movie the other day, St. Elmo’s Fire. Rob Lowe, the lead character, promised his wife (and toddler) who was about to leave him that he would never drink and be unfaithful again. That lasted about two days and then he was back at it—even though he sincerely wanted to stop because he didn’t want to lose his family. Why couldn’t he keep his word? This leads us to the next point.
2) TREAT THE ROOT CAUSE, NOT THE SYMPTOM: Addictions are actually just a symptom of a personal deficiency in your life. People don’t dream about becoming an alcoholic or narcissist? No, those behaviors develop because of you are missing or longing for something in your life. Everyone experiences this feeling at some point. What’s cool is there are only a couple of root causes to addictions. And that leads us to point #3.
3) FILL YOUR LOVE VOID: No matter your background, upbringing or what part of the world you live in, you want to be loved. It’s just the way we are. Even the mean people want to be loved. They actually need love the most because their love void is so big that it causes them to be mean. So how do you fill your love void? You put yourself in a loving environment. This includes the people you socialize with, the information you put in your brain and your heart and the words you say to yourself when no-one is around. Check out The Secret to Filling Your Love Void for more guidance on this topic. I struggled with alcohol cravings for over 10 years. I used alcohol to mask my low self-esteem. When I started to strengthen my self-esteem and self-love, my desire for alcohol lessened. So much so that one day I woke up and realized, I didn’t need alcohol anymore and that was the end of that addiction.
4) BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF: Since you are not superhuman, you may experience a series of progression and set-backs with your addiction resolution. This is normal and healthy because you are actually developing your anti-addiction muscle. You build muscle by exercising it enough so it breaks down to grow back stronger. This is exactly how self-control is developed. Every time you overcome a temptation, you get stronger. And then there are some days where you are so beat up that you give into temptation. And that’s okay too. Just get back on the horse the next day or the next day. Celebrate every victory and forget every back slide. The key is to minimize self-condemnation because then it drains your self-love tank.
Once you have success in eliminating one addictive behavior, you will find the confidence to tackle other addictive behaviors. Just take it easy and enjoy the journey. You can actually get addicted to resolving addictions and that can lead to burn out and potentially relapse.
HINT: My biggest secret weapon for the will power and ability to overcome so many addictions is God. When I realized He loves me unconditionally—with or without addictions—my love void began to lessen. The more I experienced how much God loves me, the easier it became to abandon behaviors I used to artificially fill my love void. You can experience unconditional love too. Just ask God for it. It’s awesome and better than any human love or addiction.
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