(This is Part 1 of a 5-part series on addiction).
Just about everyone in our society is addicted to something. Addictions
can take many forms:
SUBSTANCE ADDICTIONS: addiction to alcohol, recreational drugs,
prescription meds, caffeine, nicotine, food, sugar, carbohydrates.
PROCESS ADDICTIONS: addiction to love, connection, caretaking,
anger, resistance, withdrawal, and to activities such as:
o Making money
o Spending money
o Sex, masturbation, pornography
o Accumulating things
o Obsessive thinking (ruminating)
o Talking a lot
o Talking on the telephone a lot
o Gathering information (if only I know enough I will feel safe)
o Cutting themselves
o Glamour, beautifying
We can use anything as a way of avoiding feelings and avoiding taking
responsibility for our painful feelings. Whenever we engage in an
activity with the intention of avoiding our feelings, we are using that
activity as an addiction. We can watch TV to relax and enjoy our favorite
programs, or we can watch TV to avoid our feelings. We can meditate to
connect with Spirit and center ourselves, or we can meditate to bliss out
and avoid responsibility for our feelings. We can read to enjoy and
learn, or read to escape. Anything can be an addiction, depending upon
For example, when your intention is to take loving care of yourself and
your work is something you really enjoy, then working is not being used
as an addiction. But when the intent is to get approval or avoid painful
feelings, then work is being used as an addiction. The same is true for
most of the above behaviors – they can be addictions or not, depending
upon your intent.
All of us have a wounded part of us – our wounded self or ego self – that
has been programmed with many false beliefs through our growing-up
years. There are four common false beliefs that underlie most
1. I can’t handle my pain.
2. I am unworthy and unlovable.
3. Others are my source of love.
4. I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me.
I CAN’T HANDLE MY PAIN
While this was true when we were small, it is not true as adults, yet many
people operate as if it is true. When you believe that you are incapable
of handling pain – especially the deep pain of loneliness and
helplessness – then you will find many addictive ways to avoid feeling
your pain. All of us are capable of learning how to manage painful
feelings in ways that support our highest good, rather behaving in
addictive ways that hurt us.
Anything you do to avoid taking responsibility for managing your pain is
self-abandonment, which creates even more pain – the deep pain of
aloneness. Whether you abandon yourself to substances, processes or
people, your inner child – which is your feeling self – will feel abandoned
by your choice to avoid responsibility for your feelings. If you had an
actual child who was in pain, and you got drunk instead of being there
for that child, he or she would be in even more pain from the
abandonment. It is exactly the same on the inner level. Addictive
behavior is an abandonment of self and causes the very pain you are
trying to avoid.
I AM UNWORTHY AND UNLOVABLE
When you did not receive the love you needed as a small child, you
might have concluded that the reason you were not loved was because
you were bad, flawed, defective, unworthy, unlovable, or unimportant.
This is core shame – the false belief that there is essentially something
wrong with you. When you adopt this belief, you become cut off from
your Source, believing that you are unworthy of being loved by a Higher
OTHERS ARE MY SOURCE OF LOVE
You will become addicted to attention, approval, love, sex, or connection
when you believe that another person needs to be your dependable
source of love. In this case, you will be abandoning your inner child to
another person, which causes as much pain as abandoning yourself to
a substance. Until you learn to tap into a Higher Power as your source of
love, you will continue to be addicted to people as your source of love.
I CAN HAVE CONTROL OVER HOW OTHERS FEEL ABOUT ME AND
If you believe you can control others’ feelings and behavior, you will
become addicted to various ways of trying to control, such as anger,
judgment, blame, or people-pleasing. When you believe you can’t
handle your pain and that others are your source of love, then you want
control over getting that love. This is the cause of the codependency that
underlies most relationship problems.
There is a way to heal from addictions. The rest of the articles in this
series will address the process of recovery from addictions.