Sometimes, we feel stuck and fed up with life, so we try to escape by reverting to addictive behaviors. For some, it’s drugs, for others, social media. By the time we realize what’s going on, we find ourselves too deep, so we deactivate all our social media accounts. Unfortunately, this is just bypassing the problem, because the minute we come back, we realize nothing has changed and we are no less an addict then we were before.
Support and understanding are key when it comes to dealing with emotional traps, which is why in many cases, especially with drug addiction, rehab is the only way to go.
There is a deeper reason for these difficulties, but the core problem is this – you’re not facing your problems, you’re running away.
Do You See the Problem?
Many of us don’t see that we have a problem until we see the damage – we’ve wasted hours online instead of doing something more substantial.
You get this uncomfortable feeling, that you should have done something, you should have been someone else by now. And you look away. The cycle continues, the problem gets worse. You panic maybe. This is a response you should not neglect – it tells you exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. But it is too painful to acknowledge, too shameful, so you push it away. You scroll a bit more, play that clip, replay that game.
We don’t see the problem because we can’t afford to see the problem. It is uncomfortable, it is too painful perhaps, we’re too ashamed because we cannot match our (or others’) expectations. While this is not in the least naive, conversely, it is precisely why you cannot afford to ignore it even if the price is pain and discomfort.
Tips and Steps Forward
The reason many self-improvement tips fail is that they only deal with how the problem manifests and not with the fundamental cause of it. A much better course of action is to dig deep before you try any hacks to bypass your problem. Otherwise, you won’t learn anything. You’ll just end up thinking you’re a lost cause when you fail yourself again.
Express the Pain
When you find yourself in a bad place again, feeling anxiety or discomfort, your first reaction is to cover it up. A helpful thing to try is to reprogram this brain pattern with a substitute reaction. Don’t suppress – express. Find a supportive person whom you can trust and talk. This can be a professional or even a friend. If you’re faced with understanding, you won’t find it as shameful or painful to acknowledge. This will make you more resilient.
If the present scares you so much that the only thing you want to do is close your eyes, try to plan the future. This is best done in dialogue. Call a friend, express your doubts, hopes, fears, and dreams. This way you’ll come to realize what you want and which fears are holding you back. This will make you see more clearly.
Count Your Achievements
No matter how small, they are still achievements. Your brain definitely registers them as such. You get a dopamine hit – you feel good. Feed yourself tangible positive feedback. Start from the bottom and work your way up. This is where the usual tips and tricks come in handy. This will make you more confident and motivated.
Are all Addictions the Same?
Can the Internet do as much damage as, say, heroin? On a physical level, definitely not. But the emotional trap is the same for every addiction. They differ by what covers up the pain.
What drives us to addictive behaviors? If it’s not a physical trauma, it’s most likely one or a combination of the following:
Painful emotion (shame, fear, anger…)
A sense of helplessness or powerlessness
A pattern of avoidance (distracting yourself by being constantly online, watching TV, overeating, sleeping…)
Lack of support (paired with shaming, criticizing or misunderstanding and neglect in one’s surrounding)
The best thing you can do is to surround yourself with allies. You’ll know they’re the right people by the way they make you feel: strong, confident and brave. And if your friends and family can’t help, there is absolutely no shame in reaching out to a professional.