Addictive behavior is a problem because we live in an addicted society. Think about it for a minute. Who do you know who isn’t addicted to something? The addiction might not be life threatening, but do you know anyone who isn’t addicted to one of these: sugar, caffeine, cigarettes, TV, gambling, alcohol, worrying, eating, the internet, shopping, sex, pornography, prescription drugs, recreational drugs, religion, or exercise?
In fact, to some extent, most of us could be labeled “addicts.” But now you ask, “How do you define addicted?” When we use the word addicted, we mean: one who has given up their ability to choose their degree of involvement with a substance, process, experience or person.
The experience of dependence on something outside of one’s self for a temporary state of relief, well-being, or euphoria. All addictions are the result of the pursuit of or the avoidance of a feeling.
Everywhere in society, there is the reinforcement of insufficiency. The solution to all your challenges is promised every minute on the TV, the Internet, and on bill boards. Problems range from tension, anxiety, stress, depression, arthritis, headaches, impotence, constipation, poor self-image, lack of sex appeal, rejection, love loss, to hair loss. You are told that there is an answer to your problem, and you can buy it, feel better, and experience relief, if only temporarily.
Addictive behavior happens when a person forms an attachment to something and believes that his well-being is dependent upon its use. Addictions by definition are self-destructive. They erode self-esteem and create a ‘need-dependency relationship’ that often turns into a vicious cycle. In a sense, all addictions are external displays of Negaholism, the emptiness within, or ‘Hole in the Soul.’ Our society condones most addictions; since so much of the social fabric of our lives involves the acceptance of addictive thinking and subsequently behaviors we have become almost completely unaware of the addictive lives we live.
How to get to the heart of your addictive behavior.
Why Do People Become Addicted?
Over the years, a series of different theories have been presented concerning the origin of addictive behaviors. The most traditional one suggests that the individual is lacking in willpower or moral character, and is unable to control his behavior. The second theory presents addiction as an illness. This theory removes the moral, judgmental stigma previously associated with addictive behavior. It releases the addicted person from personal responsibility and enables him to seek treatment without embarrassment or humiliation.
Our Negaholic theory concerns the triple imprint. The “cycle of negativity” usually starts with overwhelm. Overwhelm triggers the “I can’t” syndrome, which drives one to fill the “hole in the soul” with activities, substances, or processes. Often these activities produce short-term gratification and when the euphoric feeling wears off, overwhelm, confusion, doubt, fear, or emptiness return, coupled with embarrassment. The cycle repeats itself over and over again until the pattern is perceived as “normal” to the person. The feelings of embarrassment then lead to a Negattack…self-flagellation for engaging in an unacceptable activity. A Negattack is self-inflicted mental punishment.
Here is the curious part: How does self-negation relate to euphoria? If you are a Negaholic, every time you criticize, judge, or invalidate yourself, you release opiate peptides into your system. The rush that you feel when you punish yourself is exciting, albeit negative. People want to stop beating themselves up, but in fact; they feel unable to do it. Why? Here is the way the addictive pattern takes hold.
Where Do Addictions Originate?
There are three elements that create conditions conducive for addictions.
1) Overwhelm is experienced in individual
2) Stress resulting from the overwhelm
3) Insufficiency or feeling unable to meet the challenges that are presented.
For example, “I’m not smart enough to do the task, not skilled enough to do the job, not attractive enough to have the relationship, not athletic enough to participate in the competition, not worthy enough to be really loved by a wonderful person, not intelligent enough, not sexy enough, not good enough, not powerful enough, etc.” The list can continue indefinitely, but the underlying feeling is that you aren’t enough of what you need to be, and therein lies the conflict. This is the origin of the “I can’t” person.
The feeling of insufficiency is rarely addressed for what it is, and is most often avoided, we pursue remedies to fill the void and alleviate the emptiness. We attack the symptom and avoid the root cause. When you become addicted to negativity, you relinquish your power and become preoccupied or obsessed with something external to you. You believe something outside yourself is the solution to your problems. Your focus becomes increasingly external.
The item makes you feel better, relieves your stress, and solves your immediate overwhelm. As an addiction increases, you begin to see it as a panacea to life’s problems and your behavior becomes increasingly compulsive.
The triple imprint involves:
- Psychological: the attention you receive when you experience a negattack
- Emotional: the drama or emotional charge you receive
- Physiological: the simultaneous feel good/ feel bad experience that locks in the addictive behavior pattern; release of opiate peptides into the system attack the immune system. The opiate peptides: B-endorphins, B-lipotropin, and enkephalin are substances, which are naturally secreted in the body, create a natural high, a feeling of euphoria. This feeling is addictive. Whether it is naturally induced or chemically induced, the result is the same: relief from anxiety, peace, well-being, and a temporary experience of complete and total euphoria. This feeling is addictive!
Summary of key elements:
- 1) The need for attention (common to all humans)
- 2) The inability to receive positive attention (withheld or unavailable)
- 3) The ingrained habit of focusing on what is wrong (dysfunctional environment)
- 4) The opiate peptides – chemical high when being severely criticized
- 5) The simultaneous negative feeling, coupled with the excitement of the attention feeling good
- 6) The addictive pattern locks in, and one becomes a Negaholic, unable to choose to change certain behavior patterns
The Addictive Personality Traits
There are commonalities which people share that are under stress, come from dysfunctional homes. The ten addictive personality traits are:
1. Type “A” personality: drive, ambitious, competitive, hard-driving
2. Impulsive: sensation-seeking, exploratory, and a risk-taker
3. Compulsive: overly orderly, perfectionistic, and conscientious in the performance of activities
4. Quick-tempered, excitable, and irascible
5. Self-confident, uninhibited, energetic, and hyperactive
6. Rigid in thinking: a binary approach to life
7. Extremely sensitive to pain, as well as susceptible to physical anxiety
8. High novelty-seeking and low harm-avoidance
9. Sentimental and moody, with a propensity toward mood swings
10. Dependent on extrinsic rewards for self-validation: wealth, power, possessions, prestige, social acceptance
Addictive Behavior: The key underlying elements.
Addictive Behavior: Immediate gratification. All addictions produce instant gratification. You feel better as a result of your involvement with the substance or process in which you indulge. It is enjoyable to experience the altered state (al least temporarily).
Addictive Behavior: Simplistic thinking. You believe that “it” will make everything all right. You believe that “it” is a panacea capable of inducing positive psychological, emotional, and physical states, a well as relieving negative ones.
Addictive Behavior: Skewed perspective. Your perspective becomes skewed and inaccurate. You are unable to perceive reality accurately. You begin to see people and situations as exaggerations of what they normally are.
Addictive Behavior: Distorted priorities. Your priorities become distorted, and you become consumed and obsessed with you addiction as the most important thing in your life, above and beyond everything else.
Addictive Behavior: Symptoms of withdrawal. As soon as you are deprived of the substance or the process, adverse consequences appear immediately. You experience unpleasant physiological, psychological, and/or emotional symptoms. You experience trauma at the thought or reality of separating from your addiction.
Addictive Behavior: Overwhelming attachment. You are so dependent upon the addiction that you feel unable to function without it. A need/dependency relationship evolves between you and your addiction. You end up needing it to be happy and your well-being is contingent on having it available to you.
Addictive Behavior: Loss of power. You feel powerless to alter you situation. You have relinquished your power to something or someone outside yourself. The situation has become bigger than you are, and you are unable to effect a change. You are a slave to your addictions.
Addictive Behavior: Binary thinking. You are a victim of binary thinking. You view situations as black or white, either/or, right or wrong, good or bad, on or off, wonderful or awful. Life is perceived as a zero sum game in which the pendulum swings between two polar opposites with no happy medium.
Addictive Behavior: Progressive and consistent stages of involvement. You need greater quantities of the addictive substance to satisfy the need within. You have built up a natural immunity, and in order for your addiction to have an impact you need increasing exposure. These stages include initial use, continuation of use, transition from use to abuse, cessation, control of abuse, transference to another addition, and, in three-quarters of the cases, relapse.
If any of this information resonates, there is a way out of this syndrome. You can:
1. Go online: www.drcherie.com and purchase a copy of Negaholics: How to Overcome Negativity and Turn Your Life Around
2. Request information on Inner Negotiation Workshop (INW) to put an end to the cycle of negativity.
3. Seek out any one of our MMS Coaches and schedule a series of Skype sessions in the privacy of your own home.
4. Take one of my online courses.
There is the possibility to overcome addictions, but you must take action because it doesn’t just happen on its own.
Dr. Chérie Carter-Scott, MCC
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Chérie Carter-Scott, MCC., Ph.D. is an NY Times Best Selling author, entrepreneur, consultant, lecturer, teacher/trainer, talk-show host, and seminar leader. As an XTRAcredits faculty member, she helps coaches receive the competency training they need to become great coaches and has her training accredited towards their coaching certifications. Her company, Motivation Management Service Institute, Inc.(MMS), has reached millions of people worldwide.
Dr. Carter-Scott is Executive Producer of LEAP, The Coaching Movie. For more information on Coaching Movie, visit: http://coachingmovie.com