I just watched Johann Hari do a TED talk “Everything you know about addiction is wrong.” It gives us great information about how to stop addiction. He talks about the penal system we have created for addicts, and how that isn’t effective. You know how it goes, caught with drugs, then jail time, then you are supposed to learn and not use drugs. What stops people from addiction isn’t punishment but loving relationships and purpose filled lives. He cites a study where rats had access to both water and water laced with heroin. If the rats were alone in the cage they would choose the heroin. But when the study was redone and the rats had the option to socialize, play, have sex they would choose that over the heroine.
Like our institutions, we easily punish ourselves. “I ate too much, again! I feel horrible, Ugh my big stomach, I have no self control, I’ve got to work on that. Why did I eat that extra ice cream?!” Can you hear that inner punisher? Think about addiction in a broad sense. Some of us are addicted to substances, foods or a state of mind. For example, being angry at your partner may start feeling like the new norm and hard to give up. We want these negative things to just GO AWAY, so we are hard on ourselves in hope that will lessen the addictive behavior. But instead of coming down on yourself, ask how close and connected you are to you partner, your community and your purpose. What can you do to strengthen those existing connections and/or build new ones? It may bring you closer to where you want to be.