Addictions come in various forms. The most well-known and talked about addictions are substance-related addictions like alcohol, drugs, food, nicotine, caffeine etc. Behavioral addictions are their “close cousins”, and almost as well-known: addictions to gambling, relationships, work, and so on. We can put a finger on these addictions; they’re tangible.
However, there are many subtle addictions that are very hard to catch because they are an ingrained part of our life style, and in some cases, supported by the cultural myths of society as a whole.
These are mental-emotional addictions which arise from the errors of our conceptual conditioning. They can include addiction to excessive worry; attachment to people, events, memories or imagination, and so on. The list of these types of addictions can be nearly endless: identifying with memories of abuse; living in despair, attached to feelings of low self-esteem, feeling like a victim, and many more. These are conceptual addictions. We don’t see them, because there is no substance to pinpoint, and so, these addictions can be incredibly insidious.
One of the most glaring addictions of all is the one known as “romantic love”, and it’s one that society in general tends to support. Clarifying that its dynamics are addictive isn’t a criticism; the way to Living Unbound is inherently about allowing misperceptions to dissolve. One of the biggest keys to letting misperceptions dissolve is to see things as they are; that’s all. At the beginning of a romantic love relationship, both people are usually quite high. Then, they need more and more of the same (person, activity, etc.) to feel that high, but before too long, the high fades. Because the other person no longer provides the high they once did (which never actually came from them, anyway), they are resented; the “bloom is off the rose”, or “the honeymoon is over”, as the sayings go. Yet, even in such cases, if the relationship ends, there are usually withdrawal symptoms, sometimes severe. Just like every other addiction. And yet, the entire dysfunctional process is glorified in poem and song as not only normal, but wonderful.
Have you ever known anyone who did not display these dynamics at the beginning, middle or end of a (so-called) love relationship?
Many people are addicted to being depressed, as well. Yes, depression is caused and/or sustained by chemical imbalances, and in many cases medication is very important to keep it under control. We are not addressing that aspect here; any use of medication is solely between a person and the medical doctor who is prescribing their medication. However, when the mind gets used to a certain kind of behavior, then it is not just the chemical aspect that needs to be addressed. Conditioned mental attitudes and habits often cause the biochemical depression in the first place, and/or keep it in place. Even doctors often find it hard to determine which “came first”, the biochemical depression, or the thoughts, emotions and attitudes which led to it. Ultimately, this doesn’t really matter; if depression is caused by the latter, a person is no more responsible for these things than they are for biochemical imbalances.
And that’s why many psychological issues are now being treated with more of a focus on behavioral therapy. The medication can only help to normalize the chemical imbalance. However, depending on how much depression has become a way of life with us, as far as habitual emotional and mental tendencies go, we will have to let go of the mental addiction to the depressive thinking patterns, as well.
Many people cannot get over addictions because they think there is resistance to it. However more than overcoming resistance, healing addictions actually involves re-conditioning the mind; releasing the psychological conditioning which brought about the addiction in the first place.
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