Tuesday, July 9, 2013



We hear a lot about "addictive personalities" and I have never really been too sure about the concept. I don't know anyone who isn't "addicted" to something. Period. Lots of people call their addiction a hobby and legitimize it via a label.

Look at television and the amount of time that is spent watching it. There are a lot of opinions concerning the outcome of watching television. Only the individual can make that decision, still we spend much of our precious time watching it.

I believe that one of the reasons that it is so difficult to make those changes that allow us to leave an addictive cycle is that addictions do develop a personality, emotionality, and psyche of their own. And, along with a personality of addiction comes a "survival instinct." So, we don't have an addictive personality, we have a PERSONALITY OF ADDICTION.

As an addiction progresses the personality of that addiction also grows and become stronger. In fact our "genuine" self slowly becomes enmeshed in the addicted personality. This may explain that when a person is in remission she/he will often see the person (personality) they were when addicted as a totally different person than they are now. They were their addiction.

The personality of addiction will fight to retain it's dominance. In fact the second the GENUINE SELF invests it's self in recovery the war begins. The reason it's difficult is because the personality of addiction knows the territory, can use the addiction itself, usually as a reward, and is very good at convincing us that it is the genuine personality.

It's not and never will be.

The addiction will "self talk" endlessly and make us believe that it is the genuine self. It will use this inner dialogue to weaken our commitment to a long term remission.

So the question becomes how do we tackle and resolve this issue? 

1. Be willing to invest the time. In order to make positive changes you will need to commit to an unknown amount of time. It may happen rapidly or it may take a substantial amount of time. No matter how much or how little time it takes you will need to commit to your remission. 

2. Everyday and I mean everyday take the time to start listening to the dialogue inside your head. For me this means meditation and contemplation. I sit for fifteen minutes a day quietly listening to "my" own thoughts. Initially my addictions struggled with this and tried to convince me that I was being foolish. The inner voices would tell me that I didn't have the time or patience to do this. In truth they were already starting to try to confuse my genuine self. I had lots of time for addictive behavior but no time to build a foundation to let them go.
(I have noticed that mornings are the best time for me, the thoughts are very loud when I just wake up.)

3. Use some type of media, I suggest more than journals or just writing, be creative, and keep track of what that inner dialogue is telling you. The reason I want you to do something different to track your thoughts is so the addiction will have to deal with something new. If you were using a journal you can be sure that the personality of addiction was writing it not the genuine you. You will hear the voice of the addiction saying a lot of negative and critical thoughts about the genuine you. None of them are true. You will probably even hear thoughts relating to you as you! If you think about it who would be calling you YOU? Hint, it's the voice of the personality of addiction.

4. Recognize the hole. In order to leave an addiction behind realize that this is going to leave a hole in our lives. If we try to maintain remission without filling the hole the addiction will return. Really spend some time contemplating this, I had some really big holes to fill and it took some time. (Still working on some of them.)

5. Recognize that addiction has a purpose. This is sometimes difficult to accept but, we like our addictions, often we love them more than our own lives. We are getting something out of them. Usually the addiction acts as a buffer against the environment and internal suffering. These are the reasons addiction can use itself against us. We don't want to be scared or suffering.
SO, we need to fill the hole, and that means using lots of different things including "healthy" behaviors that work in our favor. Sometimes this will feel like a sideways move into more addictions but lets face it, some addictions, say television, are a lot less harmful than say, heroin use.

6. Learn that, slips, relapse, return to addictions, always happen in our thinking before the action occurs. They usually happen when we are not filling the void that opens up in initial remission. We "think" our way back in to addictive behavior. I don't believe it is the genuine self doing that, it is simply the personality of addiction trying to regain control. This is why I suggest the silence and listening in the mornings. I cannot tell you how many times I "heard" my addictions move towards a relapse in the most subtle ways.

7. Keep looking for replacement behaviors. New activities, and I mean new, are simply tools to engage in the genuine self. Tools wear out and may become less effective depending on where you are in remission. So keep adding new tools. Network with others who are working with addiction. Keep an open mind. Don't take for granted that anyone had the key or knows what they are talking about (including me right now) just try stuff and see what works.

Repeat as needed. These steps will help you move away from any addictive behavior. If after reading this you start to hear thoughts as to why you can't do these steps listen carefully, is it you? Or. Is it the addiction talking to you?

Please leave feedback!! I love to hear what people think and perhaps do!

In LovingKindness,