Commonly we hear the word “addiction” and instantly think of alcohol and drug abuse. While these are most familiar and extremely important, there’s another realm of addiction that goes unaddressed until after the fact. It acts as a gateway to more serious and damaging addictions like those mentioned above. I call it the pre-addiction – the self-defeating, compulsive behaviors that lead to dysfunction and poor coping styles.
Things like overworking, obsessing over your past, the need for confrontation, excessive worry, preoccupation with success, overeating, negative self-talk/thoughts, self-pity, abusive relationships, complaining, comparing, and anger, are all examples of gateway addictions. Yes, even some seemingly normal life factors can become addictive and unhealthy if not managed properly.
I want to give you a few things to think about when considering the role that addiction may play in your life:
Whatever your answers may be to these questions, you are not alone – everyone suffers from their own form of addictive behaviors. I want you to realize that your true self is on the other side of your dependence. This may be scary to even imagine or consider. However, once you become aware of your addictive thoughts and behaviors, you will be able to make a conscious choice to de-identify with them. This is sure to make you uncomfortable; but that’s what change does.
You are not the negative things that you use to define yourself. You are the strength behind them. Instead of using your power to cling so tightly to your addiction – use it to overcome, to attain peace, and to be free.
What thoughts will you reframe, and what behaviors will you stop, to shut down the gateway of addiction in your life?
Written by Brianna Colbert, MA, LLPC.