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Addictive behaviours…. physical need or escape from emotion?

This blog certainly isn’t based around my professional education or knowledge, but it is something I come across regularly and have had many conversations about with clients and personally. So this is more a conversational piece and observation based on life experiences.

There is no doubt that addictions have a physical effect on the body, I am not denying that, however, what interests me more so is whether people could resist the addiction response if perhaps the addiction wasn’t a method to dull, suppress or ignore emotional negative feelings?

So I often I see people turn to various addictive behaviours to deal with negative situations. This has been apparent in my professional and personal life. I am not judging people either, more an observation as to how people deal with stress.

It is so easy in society today to mask feelings or stress by having a drink, smoke, gamble etc. I can certainly understand it to a point. I know when I was at a low point in my life, if someone had offered me a guaranteed way to change the way I was feeling, I would have most likely considered it. But my mind was messed up enough as it was without adding to it.

With alcohol and cigarettes being so socially acceptable it is an easy way to suppress emotions, not deal with them, push them aside. How often do you hear people say I need a drink as I have had a tough day, am stressed, had an argument? Perhaps it is when these behaviours don’t have the same impact is why people move onto other drugs? Maybe? It is much easier to mask and suppress emotions than deal with them. This part I do know from experience.

Also, in today’s society, with life often being more sedentary, I often feel people don’t have the same physical methods to release built up emotions as they did in the past. Perhaps this inability to physically release them also enhances the need to find another method to deal with them.

I can understand why people may not want to address and deal with their emotions. It sure isn’t an enjoyable thing to do. I have been forced to work through a number of my deeper emotions over time and it can open a can of worms.

Who really finds it enjoyable to assess your faults, your regrets, past behaviours, limiting beliefs, your self worth and values. It doesn’t sound fun, and it isn’t comfortable to be real and raw with yourself and accept everything about yourself, even the not so flattering parts, which we all have. It is much easier to ignore these, make excuses, blame others or just suppress them. I understand this, as at one time I really questioned my sanity for going deep down this path. Many emotions are brought to the surface and at times it can be more than painful.

What I will say however, the self work has been one of the most liberating experiences I have had, that has changed my perspective on life and my opinions and beliefs. It has taken strength and courage, lots of harsh criticism of myself at times, but immense growth and learning.

I often wonder however, if eventually all these emotions have to come to surface at some point, by everyone, to be addressed. I understand there are times that people just can’t face them and have to do what they need to do to just get through each day. But when the time is right, perhaps address them head on and see how life changes. No doubt it will be a challenge, but I personally feel the growth is worth the hard work, dedication and discomfort.

Love and strength to anyone who takes on this challenge. I am proud of anyone who takes any steps to better their life.

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