We humans are complex creatures, to say the least.
We might have feelings of sadness, joy, hopelessness, inspiration, and depression, potentially all on the same day. Learning how to cope with our feelings about daily life and addiction is key to overcoming the many obstacles in our path.
For example, an argument with a spouse may bring feelings of frustration and lead to despair. When we dwell on these types of feelings, we become more vulnerable to making choices with negative consequences. The stimulus was probably not that big of a deal.
The argument might have been (and probably was) about something trivial. Something that you both would forget about quickly. But once you let it bother you, your mind automatically looks for some kind of relief.
That relief comes in the form of giving into your addiction, more times than not.
There was a study done on smokers that highlights an important aspect of how we view our addiction. In a poll, the most common response to a question about smoking was that lighting up a “cigarette calmed them down”.
But did it?
It turns out that those who suffer from a smoking addiction are constantly being harassed on the inside, not being able to concentrate or control their nerves, until they get to smoke. The act of smoking didn’t have the effect they thought it did at all.
It’s like if you were at a basketball game but was on the bench the whole time. You want desperately to get into the game! You’re antsy and irritable because obviously the only joy you get is by actually playing. The coach finally puts you in, but has you tie one hand behind your back. But hey, at least you’re playing, right?
This is the way smoking affects your perception. The times when you feel like you’re getting a “calm down” are actually the times when your hands are tied. You’re not better off than before, in fact you’re still worse off than normal, but because you feel a little bit better about the given action, your mind alters reality.
It’s a harrowing thought.
Any addiction can affect us in similar ways. Alcohol has had a crippling affect on the human race over the past century. Don’t worry, I’m not advocating for any bans or prohibition, but let’s just think about it for a minute.
How many relationships have been ruined by alcohol?
How many sexual assaults have there been where alcohol is involved?
How many children have been left destitute because of the DUI charge of a parent?
This is a beverage, people.
But it’s much more than that. It has the power to dull our senses and affect the way we act. It has the power to help us forget the hard times. It might help us sleep.
So here’s the idea: Instead of using Inspiration as a conduit for change, how about using fear?
Many people see fear as the enemy, something that grips us tight, something we can’t escape. They see it as something innate, like we were born with it and will die with it too. This can’t be any further from the truth, though.
For example, the fear of public speaking is one of the most common phobias in the country year after year. It makes us nervous, embarrassed, and even sick to our stomachs at times. But can your same logic that fear is ingrained in us be mitigated by the fact that thousands of people every year work on it, change, and master the art of speaking in front of a group? If their fear can motivate them to change, perhaps yours can too.
And that’s the key.
Use fear to motivate you instead of stifle your growth. Let me provide a disclaimer here, though. If you deal with severe depression, anxiety, or have other factors involved, this may not be the approach for you. Make sure to consult a rehabilitative specialist or counselor before going about these tactics.
When it comes to addiction, we miss out on a lot of things.
Write them down:
- Time with spouse
- Money saved by spending it on addiction
- Playing sports or participating in other hobbies
- Spending time with your kids
In the case of alcohol, think of the consequences of getting in your car when you aren’t fully able to focus on the road. The fear of bodily harm in a car accident can be a powerful motivator to call a friend, get help, and work towards not having the drink in the first place.
Addictions can take many different forms, as indicated by the horrific show on TLC, “My Strange Addiction”. The problem with this type of programming is it highlights the dependence aspect, but doesn’t show all the effects in real life. It’s only It’s almost like it gives license to mock the trials of others when maybe we have a problem ourselves, just a different one.
As you think of the negative consequences of having an addiction, let the fears of continuing it propel you to acceptance and freedom by starting the road to recovery.
Fear can be a good thing.