The Addictive Personality Remains Addictive – Even Without “Drugs”.

The addictive personality may kick the alcohol, the heroin, even the need to compulsively spend- but deep inside, there may still be a dormant addict. To what? If there are no drugs, alcohol, the incessant need to gamble, masturbate to porn, overspend, scratch lottery tickets, then- what? Where is the problem?

The addictive personality is doomed to exhibit addictive tendencies toward any number of things, people, but most of all- experiences- that otherwise ‘normal, healthy’ personalities respond to quite differently. The addict may do a good job in hiding the addictive tendencies, but the underlying problem lie in the addict’s inability to consistently apply a very important understanding to every undertaking of life; which is:

The ultimate fulfillment in life comes not from feeling and doing, but rather from knowing and being.

This basic misunderstanding leads to a person jumping from one project to the next, one job to the next, partner, place, educational goals, etc. Why? The experience gives the rush. Call it ‘stimulation addiction’. Similar to an adrenalin junkie’s need to feel the physical rush of the extreme, the stimulation junkie just has a hard time in general with downtime. Unlike a person who simply likes to stay busy and get some work done, or even the restless soul who can’t seem to sit still, the addictive personality is looking for something that they can’t ever quite define, or find. Ironically, they seem to ‘find’ it all the time. But once the rush of the newness wears off, they are often left feeling down. The new job just wasn’t what they thought it would be. The new car is starting to squeak and rattle, and the studies in architecture are boring. The new relationship collapsed under the strain of not thrill-seeking, but perhaps drama-seeking and neediness on the part of the addictive personality.

A 12-step program of support might always be a necessity for the recovered substance abuser, and it makes sense for those who have long ago given up one vice, (alcoholism , for example) to become a chain-smoker, then give that up but now are binge-eating, who finally stopped that but now can be found gambling five nights a week. Maybe they are involved with more than one addiction at a time, but since they are not ‘intoxicated’, and are completely ‘functional’, they don’t see themselves as addicts, and most others would not either. Chances are the addictive personality keeps people at just enough distance to keep criticism at bay. Honesty with oneself becomes more and more elusive, and difficult.

It is only when we can learn to truly have ‘fun’ without drinking, smoking, gambling, overeating, etc…when we can be at peace without having to be ‘doing’ something, no matter how industrious it may seem…when we can just relax, and be in the moment, knowing that in that moment, we have everything we need, that we are OK, can we begin to approach living a life of peace and true happiness.

Prayer, or meditation are extremely helpful for this disorder, as are certain yoga techniques, counseling, and/or the 12-step program. It is necessary to recognize our demons in order to fight them. It is not enough to kick one demon out of our life to simply replace it on down the road with another- even if it seems ‘innocent’.  Sometimes fighting means learning to let go.

In case you are still confused as to the difference between an an addictive personality and a person who just has lots of goals and hobbies, consider this:

The addictive person is never satisfied for long with the thing they obtain.

The addictive personality has a hard time maintaining long-term healthy relationships. They usually begin with a huge rush of excitement, and when that fades, the person is left disillusioned and dissatisfied.

The addictive personality has a hard time being content. They do more than simply look for opportunities to advance at work, or dare to chase a dream. Instead, they are almost compelled to seek out the excitement of the experience, and have trouble communicating the ‘why’ of it all.

The addict may have one or several ‘minor’ addictions in their lives, and may give one up to take up another at any time.

The addictive types have a hard time just ‘being’. Being in the moment is hard, relaxing and ‘doing’ nothing for very long is very difficult, even if they are exhausted.

They seem compelled to move, change jobs, up-end everything with no understandable reason.

They rarely have true peace and contentment in life, because they are attempting to live in a feeling or experience-mode that cannot be realistically maintained for the long-term.

They haven’t learned to live out BEING and KNOWING over feeling and doing, even if they understand it to be true.

Relaxation is very difficult- it’s usually full-speed ahead or exhaustion. Some may sleep more than normal, because of enjoying the dream-state, or a way to escape reality for a while.

Now, all of this could be chalked up to conjecture; maybe just a combination of what I read, think, and have experienced or seen. I am certainly no mental health expert. But, I think I am on to something.

Sound like anyone YOU know? If so, what are your thoughts?

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It’s Not Dieting- it’s about Self-Mastery

Taking myself too seriously has been a lifelong hobby of mine. Most importantly, I hate being a slave. But I have been a slave to many things. Cigarettes, sugar, and the tendency to go all or nothing with beer, with smoking when I did, and now with nicotine gum. I have always been this way. That’s why moderation scares me. I know it’s the right way, but it’s so much harder for me than all-or-nothing. At the end of the day, I want to be able to enjoy my food in moderation, and without restrictions. I want to be able to enjoy food, even pasta and bread, potatoes and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but not to be obsessed with any of it. I do believe that I will achieve that goal, and the TRUE test of ‘self-mastery’ is to be able to partake of all that life has to offer (no, not illegal drugs, etc.,) without being possessed or controlled by the craving for it.

Why do we crave food when we aren’t hungry? Why does a junkie need a fix? More importantly, why do we have the need to escape?  Is this a reflection of our high-stress lives? The modern world? Could it be our own dysfunction that we can’t deal with? There are probably more questions than answers, but I subscribe to a simple theory that much of the dysfunction is just bad habit that’s been ingrained. We can learn new ways to respond to the challenges life throws at us. We can rise up, or we can suck lollipops. We can go to the gym, or we can go for the quick-endorphin producing bowl of ice cream. There’s nothing wrong with ice cream, eaten and enjoyed. The problem begins when ice cream, or any other thing, becomes our crutch, our reason for living. I have an inner glutton that will never be satisfied by any of the materials I try to stuff into myself. The hunger I am seeking to fill comes from learning to be content in the moment, without one more thing added. I have everything I need to lead a productive, happy life, already inside of me. Giving and receiving love, in all the many ways that manifests itself, comes right under having my “Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs” met. Chocolate donuts are not necessary for my happiness.

Giving and receiving love. Releasing others from the perceived hurts and pains they have caused us, laughing with abandon, tossing away worry and fret- these are the freedom and peace bringers. Think about it, we all only have a brief span of years, in the grand scheme of things. If we are here to learn, serve, and love, there isn’t enough time for anger, worry, and numbing ourselves to our own ugliness and pain. It won’t work- the bowl of ice cream-to fix the buried memories of rejection, abuse, fears, pains, and loneliness. The meth won’t make us more productive at work, and the heroin won’t transport us to another, better reality. Beer buzzes don’t bring me to an enlightened state of being.

So, low-carb dieting is much more for me than fitting into smaller clothes, or looking better. It’s even more important than health, and feeling great. It’s truly about kicking false idols to the curb. I haven’t completed that journey, but at least I am on the road.