What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a signal, a symptom of distress. It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood. –Alice Miller
Addiction is an interesting word. When we hear it we immediately think of drugs and alcohol. We’re not addicts because we’re sober, right?
Wrong. We’re all addicted to something. It may be biting our nails, lashing out in anger or smoking cigarettes when we feel tense.
Addiction therapist and recovering addict, Mandy Saligari, focuses her work on recovery and mental health. She believes the one preventative measure for all addictions leads from one word: self-esteem.
Self-esteem at its core is: how I feel about myself and therefore how I treat myself.
When it comes to addictions, it’s not about what you’re addicted to, it’s about why you would use something outside of yourself in an attempt to fix how you feel, only to the detriment of yourself.
Addiction is the pattern of delegating (outsourcing) your emotional process onto something else that backfires. Saligari believes, however, if you know the feelings that you’re having, then you have a chance of taking responsibility and representing yourself in the world with dignity and respect.
“When people tend to look at addiction, their eyes tend to be on the substance or thing – but really it’s a pattern of behavior that can manifest itself in a number of different ways.”
You need to be taught how to handle your excitement or your depression. When you don’t acknowledge your emotions you don’t react correctly.
If I know I’m feeling scared, if can tell myself I’m scared, I can put my own arm around myself and say “I love you” and be my own caretaker and I can take myself out of my fear.
‘It’s important to investigate the nature of anger because it is such a powerful energy and can be so destructive. When we can face our anger without being afraid of it, or angry about it, or defenseless in the face of it, then we can come close to it. When we are able to look closely at anger, we can see threads of different feelings – the sadness and the fear woven through it – and we can see it’s true nature. When we can uncover the helplessness and powerlessness that often feed anger, we transform them. In being mindful of these feelings, we actually use the sheer energy of anger – without getting lost in it or overcome by it’s tremendously deluding and fixating quality – to reveal instead the courage and compassion that have been concealed.’- Sharon Salzberg
If you are friends with yourself, you will not persistently do something to yourself to hurt yourself over and over again.
Start looking outside of this tiny world of pain you’re living in. You will start to feel grateful.
If addiction is the delegation of your emotions onto something else, when you look in the mirror, say nice things to yourself. And if that’s difficult, get a picture of yourself around six or seven years old and pop it up in your bathroom and start to talk to her. Start to create a relationship with a part of yourself that might feel vulnerable, and who really needs you on their side. And at the end of the day, write down what you’re grateful for.