In the famous film Dirty Harry, the character played by Clint Eastwood stands ready to shoot the bad guy with his .44 magnum. He pauses before firing the gun at him and asks:
“You’ve got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky?”
The bad guy immediately begins to ponder the answer to that question because that is how our mind works. We cannot help it, when we ask ourselves a question we always try to answer it.
So, why not ask yourself now, “Do I feel lucky?”
And notice how your mind starts to consider your life and all the things in your past that made you believe that yes you were a lucky person or no, you were really unlucky, nothing good ever happened.
So, the next time you are about to pull the addiction trigger and reach for your comforter of choice why not ask yourself a question?
“Do I believe that feeding my addiction will improve how I am feeling?”
Before jumping the gun and seeking the support of your addictive habit why not stop and explore how you feel in the moment.
Ask yourself: “How do I feel right now?”
Am I anxious, fed up, bored, depressed, fearful, stressed, tired, worried, lonely or any other negative emotion that you are seeking to change. Once you are clear on how you are feeling, ask yourself:
“In what way will feeding my addictive habit solve my problem?”
If you are feeling any of the negative emotions mentioned will eating something, smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs solve the problem?”
If you are bored a quick search of Google will give you 100 healthy, alternative things to do with your precious time.
If you are anxious or worried because of debt, then bad habits are expensive, in what way will it help to drink a bottle of wine? You wake up the next day and the problem is still there but now you have the problem and a hangover to deal with.
Our minds are very powerful and are capable of helping us deal with our emotions if we would only let them, but every time we feel anything less that 100% we reach out for a magic potion to change how we are feeling in that moment, and to change it right now. Always seeking immediate gratification at the expense of long-term health and happiness.
We live in a microwave world where instant satisfaction is more important than taking the time to prepare a gourmet meal. Microwave food may give you the feeling that you have satisfied your hunger pangs but at what cost to long term health.
The road to success in life is long there is no short cut, when you take the microwave solution or look for the magic potion that will make everything better in the short term, it can prevent achieving your long term goals, it can hinder you getting to where you want to be.
This is all we are ever doing, moving away from pain and towards short term pleasure. If we could just take a minute to ask ourselves a few simple questions:
“How am I feeling in this moment?”
Wait until you have an answer that best describes how you feel, then ask:
“How will I feel once I have fed my addictive habit?”
And most importantly of all
“How will I feel the next day when I wake?”
Will you be pleased with yourself that you gave in again or will you beat yourself up, promising that today will be the day that you will give up again.
When most people try to give up an addictive habit they are at a loss to understand why, despite the fact they want to stop and they are very clear on why they want to stop, they can’t do it.
Addiction: doing something you do not want to do, but you go ahead and do it anyway, and don’t understand what is wrong with you that you would do that
A small step toward freedom from any addictive habit is understanding how our mind works. We are stuck in an addictive cycle not because our mind is the enemy, it is the opposite, your mind is trying to be your friend. It is doing it’s best to offer the solution you have always used when you felt any of those negative emotions.
When you have been stressed or worried in the past you have used your addiction like a crutch to get you through. Your unconscious mind knows this and like a good friend offering you a hanky when you are crying because they do not know how else to help, so your unconscious mind is offering you your addictive habit as it tries in its own way, the only way it knows how, to make you feel better.
So, now you know, you can explain to your unconscious mind that yes, right now you are not feeling great, but you also know that despite their kindly gesture of offering the suggestion of cake or wine, you know that this will not solve the problem and that you will find another way. A way that is life enhancing and not life destroying.
We all have pain in our lives at times and it is normal to look for ways to ease that pain, but the quickest solution is not always the right one. The quickest solution can often prolong the problem making it more difficult to find the long-term peace and contentment that we are all seeking. Stop wasting you life looking for the magic pill that offers instant gratification but long term pain.
“Addiction is just a way of trying to get at something else. Something bigger. Call it transcendence if you want, but it’s like a rat in a maze. We all want the same thing. We all have this hole. The thing you want offers relief, but it’s a trap.” Tess Callahan