What is an addiction? We’re apt to think that only certain, obviously destructive and unhealthy habits fit into the box we label “addiction.” If there isn’t a 12-Step program for it, or a rehabilitation service for it, it’s not an addiction, is it?
Well, it’s not quite that simple.
Ultimately, an addiction is something that you rely on as an emotional crutch. It gives you a false sense of stability – it props you up and holds you there, but it is a weak structure upon which to draw support. Addictions build you up with the promise of infallibility, of protection – but a structure built on the foundation of addiction is always on the brink of collapse. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
Here are the 3 primary addictions that are ruining your life:
1. Validation: the need for others’ permission and approval.
You point to the selfie on your phone. “This one, or the one before?” you ask your friend. You deliberate for what feels like an eternity, you settle for the most flattering filter, and you pair it with the wittiest caption.
Then you wait.
A few hours later, you have your fix. 200 likes, an improvement from your last post.
You’re accepted. You’ve gotten your social media fix; your existence and beauty and creativity have been sealed with your peers’ golden stamp of approval. One double-tap done enough times by enough people, and your confidence is given the exact boost it needed. Ah, until your next post.
Validation is an emotional crutch that has a way of making narcissists out of us, because in our quest to be validated, we make our entire existence all about ourselves.
When we’re slaves to validation, we are constantly in need of reassurance. And if you need it, voilà, you’re an addict.
You think, every waking minute. Thoughts about that stupid thing you said to your friend or that interview you have tomorrow. Your thoughts are automatic and unfiltered. They are critical, complaining, explaining, analyzing, joking, laughing, screaming- the wheel is always turning.
You cannot *not* think, and you think that constant noise is only natural. Think about it – what would it be like to not think? Ah, the catch-22! You’re thinking about not thinking.
It is a natural phenomenon on overdrive. It is a natural process that you have turned into an unnatural addiction – an emotional crutch.
3. Mindless distraction.
To counteract your overthinking, you engage in a whole slew of other mindless distractions, ranging from seemingly harmless to potentially fatal. You have to escape your constant thoughts somehow, so this is when an ache for distraction sets in. These distractions encompass common bad habits, such as internet browsing, binge-TV marathons, biting your nails, romantic relationships, video games, food… the list goes on and on, and gets worse and worse. These are all addictions that stem from an inability to face your own mind.
All addictions boil down to one, simple and urgent request: “Fill me. Fill this void.” And the simple yet enigmatic truth is this: that ‘fill’ will never come from outside of yourself.