Do you have the experience of continually doing something that you know you probably shouldn’t do, but you do it anyway and then end up regretting it later? Does this happen with the same thing or same type of thing over and over?
Maybe you eat the kinds of foods you know aren’t god for you, but you can’t seam to stop yourself from diving in. Maybe you are attracted to be in relationships with people you know aren’t the best fit, but you go for it anyway. Maybe you over spend and buy things you know aren’t that important, but you keep doing it anyway only to feel terrible later. Maybe you do something similar with something even more dangerous to your life. Do any of these scenarios ring a bell for you?
If you answered yes to that question, you could be experiencing the pattern of addiction. The pattern of addiction can be experienced in the traditional ways with food, substance or alcohol abuse, dysfunctional relationships, or poor money management and it can also show up with many things we don’t think about as being addictive, such as being addicted to worry or being addicted to an idea that a particular circumstance will relieve us of having to be in change of the improving of one or more areas of our life.
Understanding what the pattern of addiction looks like can make it much easier to notice when it starts to happen, and can help us break the pattern if we want to.
An addiction is the pattern of being temporarily rewarded for assuming the thing you are addicted to is more powerful than you are.
After the feeling of the temporary reward is over, you feel bad about yourself because you have assumed that something is more powerful than you, and in your gut you know that isn’t true. You realize in you heart, that you have let your true self down.
The pattern of addiction has three phases:
Phase 1: The trigger:
Something happens that triggers you to consider doing the addictive behavior. Often times this is an event or events where you end up feeling helpless or not powerful in some way.
For example; you look in the mirror and see you’ve put on extra weight and suddenly feel like you have no control over your health.
Phase 2: The behavior:
You act out the addictive behavior in order to help yourself feel temporarily powerful. You get temporarily rewarded in some way.
For example: you see a piece of cake on the counter and before you know it, it’s almost gone. You get the temporary reward of tasting the cake and feeling the sugar high and you feel powerful over being able to give yourself this temporary pleasure.
Phase 3: The regret:
Once the feeling of the temporary good taste and sugar high is over, you feel bad because you know at a gut level, you have traded in your real power for the temporary reward and that the behavior will most likely make your circumstances worse.
For example; you feel bad because you know that eating the cake gave you only a temporary relief from feeling helpless and that doing it will make the circumstance of the extra weight gain worse.
The key to breaking an addiction is to feel more powerful when the addiction gets triggered.
One way you can do this is to create the habit of feeling more powerful now so that when the pattern of addiction is triggered, you will automatically have a way to access feeling more powerful in that moment.
If you’re curious abut this, try out these three simple steps right now and find out how much easier it can be to not fall into the pattern of addiction the next time it happens.
Step 1: Say the following phrase to yourself 10 times:
“How am I feeling powerful now?”
You can count each repetition on your fingers to keep track.
Step 2: Draw a hatch mark on a sheet of paper to represent the 10 repetitions.
Step 3: Repeat steps one and two nine more times for a total of 100 repetitions of saying the phrase. This will take only five minutes or less.
In doing 100 repetitions of saying this phrase to yourself now, you are creating a new neural pathway that will focus your attention on all the ways you can feel powerful in any moment.
This phrase will be easily accessible to you the next time you are in a situation where the pattern of addiction might get triggered. Instead of just unconsciously falling into the addictive behavior, you will now have the choice to notice how you are feeling powerful in that moment and you can have greater access to different behaviors.
If you want to hyper charge these three steps, during step one, imagine a time when you were experiencing the pattern of addiction being triggered, or imagine what the next time might be like, while you say the phrase to yourself.
I’m always excited to hear what your experience is, so let me know how it goes!