I can get addicted to pretty much anything.
Food. Sex. Drugs. Alcohol. Cigarettes. TV. Exercise. Codependency. Spiritual practice. My phone. My computer. Social media. Work. Shopping. Caffeine. Coffee. Juice cleansing. Enemas. Water fasting. Overeating. Undereating. And on and on…
No gambling, yet. Thank you very much!
Over the years, I’ve worked on my addictive personality in many ways.
I’ve tried varying degrees of abstinence and moderation with varying degrees of success.
- Alcohol & drugs: I worked AA to quit drinking and drugging, and heal the relationships I harmed while under the influence.
- Codependency: I worked Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics to heal my addiction to relationships and codependency.
- Food: I went vegan and did a series of juice cleanses, water fasts, and enemas to heal my addiction to food and overeating.
- Exercise: I’ve stopped exercising for periods of time to end exercise bulimia.
- Technology & sex: I’ve given up my phone, computer, internet, and social media for weeks on end when I lived at Gampo Abbey for 9 months. And, I was abstinent from sexual activity the whole time I was there!
- Caffeine: I’ve been on and off caffeine and coffee many times.
- Entertainment: I still don’t watch TV.
I mention these efforts not to brag. Rather, to show the ways I have tried to heal my various addictions.
Some of them were very helpful (12-Step programs), and others (water fasting, juicing, cleansing to heal food addiction) were very destructive.
What I’ve learned is that an addictive personality is 100% workable.
There are some things I need to abstain from completely.
I just can’t have certain things in my life at all. They trigger a larger cycle of abuse and psychological dysfunction.
For example, I can’t be healthy and happy and drink alcohol. I simply get way too depressed.
I can have one or two drinks a year, and be absolutely fine.
But, if I drink more than one a couple days in the row, I become a total wreck. I regress back into the depressed mood, anxiety, and constant empty feeling that characterized my psyche in college. It sucks!
Alcohol is simply not worth it for me, so I abstain completely.
Coffee, cigarettes, and drugs are the same.
Other things, I must moderate.
Two primary examples include: food and exercise.
Obviously, I can’t abstain from food for the rest of my life. Trust me, I’ve tried! Food is essential to human life.
My solution is to use a food plan, following Dr. Glenn Livingston’s advice, as a form of moderation.
I choose what I eat and what I don’t eat. When I follow my clearly defined food plan and don’t restrict my calories, I don’t feel compelled to binge eat.
I must also moderate my exercise, as I can easily overdo it.
If I’m not careful, I’ll end up doing an hour of HIIT a day plus ride my bike 50 miles commuting to work every day. That’s simply too much for my body, as I’m not a professional athlete!
In my experience, social media, sex, codependency, technology, shopping, and spiritual practice are quite nuanced. They all fall into the moderation category for me.
As long as I keep my awareness high, I don’t run into any lasting issues.
I can notice that I’ve spent hours on social media, and make an effort to show up more fully to connect with people in 3D.
Or, I can notice that I want to make a lifestyle out of spiritual practice to avoid dealing with money (TRUE STORY!), and find the strength to get the financial education I need to face money problems head on.
None of these things with addictive potential are inherently bad, but all can cause harm if taken to excess.
The key is to be aware when the line is crossed. The line is different for each of us.
I can’t tolerate drinking coffee, because it sets off a cascade of unhealthy physiological and psychological processes in my highly sensitive mind and body.
But that doesn’t mean someone else drinking a cup or two a day is bad, wrong, or unhealthy.
Only you can define what you need to abstain from completely versus moderate.
And it’s none of your business what someone else chooses to do with the exact same substances and activities.
This is a judgment-free zone!
Focus on finding balance yourself, and let others figure it out themselves.
Otherwise, you’d be robbing others of their own journeys and growth potentials.
Worst of all, you’d rob yourself of the opportunity to refine and focus 100% on your own growth and development.
And, we all need you to complete the mission you’re here to do!
Are you serious about improving your health?
Do you want ongoing support in achieving your health goals?