Addictions come in all shapes and sizes. Of course some are more destructive than others, but I see addictions and additive behaviors playing out all around me all the time in one form or another. I am not exempt from this.
Here are some common addictions I see: chronic TV watching, food addictions and disordered eating tendencies, drinking, drugs, tobacco use, chronic busy-ness, work addiction, and more.
For myself, I’ve dabbled in my fair share of addictive behaviors, but the most notable and recent was this: obsessive healthy eating. Now this might not seem like a big deal, but this became totally and profoundly imprisoning and uncomfortable for me. I realized this: I wanted to change.
The discomfort that would arise when I ate “off track” became an obvious indication that something else was going on besides simply a desire to be “healthy”. So I began to ask: what is (obsessively restrictive) “healthy” eating doing for me?
I pondered and pondered, went inward, and sat with this question. Here’s what I came up with:
Eating this way gave me a sense of control and security (i.e. I eat this way and know that I can maintain feeling “healthy” and being trim).
But it went deeper.
So I asked myself this: why do I desire a feeling of security and control? A bigger question.
Perhaps I feel unsure about myself.
Aha! Light bulb. But what’s below that?
A desire for social approval and a desire for acceptance.
A sense of unworthiness, a fear of rejection, a fear of criticism, and old shame.
I found the root.
Though this wasn’t a quick and easy process, it was actually a relief to discover and admit. This meant that a new possibility had emerged: change was possible.
The question then became this: do I continue to try to cover up those uncomfy feelings with addictive behaviors and distractions (because this seems to be creating even more discomfort and the pacifying of these feelings is so temporary, anyhow),
Do I FINALLY sit with shame, insecurity, fear of rejection, and unworthiness for the first time? Can I bravely acknowledge these things, show them love and compassion, forgive myself for all the discomfort that I may have caused others and myself trying to keep them buried, and finally finally be a bit lighter?
I didn’t want to feel trapped in a pattern of rigid and uncomfortable behavior anymore so I braced myself for the potentially wild ride of getting down with my demons and all that I’d been brushing under the rug. Unworthiness, shame, insecurity, sadness — the thought of letting these feelings exist was originally terrifying, but I discovered that it was profoundly liberating to admit their presence, acknowledge them, embody them, and hold them oh-so-lightly.
Here’s where I’m at now: I wanna be sure that my behaviors, endeavors, and interactions aren’t being governed and tainted by old patterns and repressed emotions, and I don’t wanna give up eating well or nourishing my body, but it feels a whole lot better, lighter, and simpler. There is far less at stake when I’m not desperately trying to cover up vulnerabilities.
Vulnerability = Beautiful & Liberating.