What are you addicted to?
You might answer chocolate or cake, maybe G&T’s or social media.
But have you ever thought about the emotional addictions you have? Until this morning, I hadn’t.
Once again, the lesson came from listening to a lecture by Caroline Myss, where she was talking about “What causes you to lose power.”
I’ve only listened to the first 20 minutes but already I think I’ve uncovered things in myself that will change my life.
In the talk, Myss asks, “What are you addicted to?”, and invites everyone in the room to write a list, advising “If you have less than 30, you’re not even close.”
I paused the video and wrote my list before continuing. I could only identify 15 things to begin with – things like control, approval and attention, along with a load of other things, but when I pressed play, she said, “Now, you need to be specific. It’s not enough to say something like control or approval because you don’t need these all the time. You don’t need them with everyone. You are addicted to them in specific situations and with specific people.”
That’s when things opened up for me. I started thinking about the things I “NEED” in my relationships with the people in my life – my husband, children, parents, extended family, friends and clients.
So many things started coming up that I eventually had to put my list aside so I could start my work day!
What does this have to do with joy?
Over the past few weeks, I’ve written a lot about the link between “letting go” and living joyfully. But, for me, there was a missing piece somewhere and I couldn’t always figure out exactly what I needed to let go of!
Today I was able to name things I’ve never been able to name before. For example: I am addicted to making my daughter value the same things I value.
“Addicted” seems a daft word in this context but it kind of makes sense, when I think about how I feel and react when this doesn’t happen.
I realise that although it’s normal for parents to want to pass their values on to their children, my NEED for her to share my values is what lies beneath my judgements of her when her choices take her in the opposite direction.
This is just one example of many.
I’d always know I was being slightly (or severely) unreasonable, but I REALLY struggled to feel or think differently. A couple of years ago, I heard Brené Brown talk about “stealth expectations” – the expectations you didn’t even realise you had – and I thought that was the key but my exploration of those always led me to think about what I wanted from other people. Thinking about them as “addictions” helped me think about what I needed for myself.
It’s a game changer!
Naming my addictions makes it so much easier to see what I need to let go of or make peace with. Now, instead of having to “talk myself down” when someone does something I don’t like, telling myself, “It doesn’t matter, let it go”, I can now say, “Oh, I’m feeling upset because I thought I NEEDED <Addiction> but I actually don’t NEED it. I’m ok.”
From there, the road back to peace and ease feels logical and straightforward. It’s an easy road to take, rather than feeling like I’m forcing my way down an overgrown jungle track when I could much more easily return to the motorway and travel back in the direction of my dissatisfaction.
I think this practice will be revelatory. I uncovered literally dozens of these addictions and now have so many more tangible ideas to work with in those moments where previously I’d have gotten stuck. I’ve already used it a couple of times today and it made a difference.
I’m excited to use it with coaching and corporate clients too as I think it has the capacity to make a massive difference to people in all sorts of situations.
If you decide to give it a go, I’d love to hear what you uncover and how the knowledge helps you live with a greater sense of ease, peace and joy.