Addiction– most of us battle something at some point in our lives. People who are trapped, however, can lose everything they hold dear.  Addictive behavior is the source of the misery and we know that, but it is often most difficult to leave the comfort and familiarity of the high received.

For some, it may be drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, sex, porn…you know the big things you hear about daily. Mine is comfort eating. For others, it may be social media, video games, phones, shopping, smoking, or even exercise. Still, for others, it might be things you have never thought of such as always having to be right or having the last word, lying about a part of your life you can’t control, trying to control others, being in everyone else’s business that is clearly none of your business, taking over the top risks for the adrenaline rush, etc.

The pleasures are fleeting but the compulsions and out of control behaviors linger and may begin to interfere with the ordinary responsibilities and relationships of life.

There are both physical and psychological addictions; the focus not being so much on the types of addictions but rather on what things trigger the need to resort to these behaviors or substances.  We could debate all day whether addiction is a disease or a mental illness, but I don’t have the credentials to do so and any guess would be pure speculation on my part.  What I do know (and it really doesn’t take therapy to learn this but I suppose it’s more of a reaffirmation when a professional tells you this): until you get to the root of the issue or trigger, you cannot break the cycle. Until you recognize it, say it out loud, and own the truth of it, the changes will not come.

This truth can be anything: you were abused in some way or you were the abuser, you had health issues and instead of pain management, the doctor prescribed more and more meds, you were bullied or you are the bully, you believe something is your fault even though the incident was completely out of your control, you made a grievous mistake and you continue to carry the weight of it on your shoulders and in your heart; things don’t seem to ever go your way so you feel like a failure; stresses, losses of loved ones, neglect–this list is merely a sample.  Perhaps you were never taught healthy coping skills. Or, you simply liked the feeling it brings and needed more and more artificial means to enjoy life versus creating your own happiness.  There is no judgment being placed, simply a list of some of the truths.

What many of these things have in common is shame and guilt. We purposely burden ourselves rather than be humbled and ask for help. We are afraid to admit when we are struggling with a concept or emotion for fear it makes us look weak. We are afraid to tell people of past abuses for fear of retribution or judgment or, sadly, that people won’t believe us.  We are afraid to admit we are just not happy, that we suffer from depression, anxiety, or other fears. We are afraid to love because we have been hurt before or we think we don’t know how to love.  We have fantasies  that we think our partners won’t understand and will therefore mock us or think we are a bit twisted.  We are afraid of emotional and physical pain. So, instead, we turn to other ways to make us feel better. Then, we feel guilty that we are hiding our coping mechanisms so we do it more. It’s a vicious cycle that seems impossible to escape.

Steve Maraboli reminds us “One of the most healing things you can do is recognize where in your own life you are your own poison.”  Re-read that please.  How powerful is this realization–talk about an eye opener!  It’s also scary. To do this requires introspection and we don’t always like that.  Courage is difficult because it requires a leap into the unknown.  It requires us to get down and dirty, to creep into the cobweb filled corners of our souls. It requires boldness, and punch you in the gut rawness.  You, the one reading this–you have this courage!

Eckhart Tolle says this, “Stop looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love–you have a treasure within that is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.”  Brene Brown tells us we should Dare Greatly.  Daring Greatly means the Courage to be Vulnerable:

  • Show up and be seen
  • Ask for what you need
  • Talk about your feelings
  • Have the hard conversations
  • Do not be afraid to admit shortcomings
  • Get raw to the core
  • Own your truth, no matter what
  • Be authentic
  • Persevere–you are willing to keep going no matter what obstacles stand in your way
  • Understand it’s a process and not an event
  • Make a contract with yourself that you will not run away from life troubles and that you will not take the temporary path by taking a quick hit
  • Weed out those who support or enable your bad behaviors; say goodbye to them and the things that cause your pain

Find the person or persons that will walk on your journey with you; the ones who will remind you of your strengths, power and courage when you seem to have forgotten.  Find those who will not enable you but will be an arm of support when you falter–let them be your guide back to the right path.  Understand that their love will sometimes be tough love.  You may hate them for it in the moment, but one day you will be grateful. Find that one person who, when you are getting kicked around in the often ugly arena of life, will look you square in the eye and tell you “You are brave!”

Find your courage today to take that first step.  Courage is the mastery of fear not the absence of it.  Find the courage to dig deep inside to find, own and conquer the source of your pain. Find your courage to not look back but to focus only on the lessons learned that will carry you forward no matter how slowly.

Have the courage to shift your focus:  sometimes when you’re in a dark place and feel you have been buried–it’s anything but that.  You, my friend, have been planted. Have the courage to begin loving yourself and to genuinely know and accept that you are worthy of all the wonderful blessings life brings. Find the courage to reclaim you: beautiful, authentic, wonderfully made, happy you!