A Formula for Addiction & Recovery
In Avengers Civil War, Vision confessed to Wanda that he didn’t understand what the Mind Stone was that was implanted on his forehead. He understood some of its power, “But its true nature,” Vision shared, “is a mystery. And yet it is part of me.”
“Are you afraid of it?” Wanda asked.
“I wish to understand it. The more I do, the less it controls me. One day, who knows? I may even control it.”
I think all of us can relate to Vision. We may have that thing that is a part of us, yet it is a mystery and it controls us until it isn’t a mystery. It could be a porn addiction or addiction of any kind. It could be an over-dependence on food. It could be a mental illness of any degree. In reality, any behavior or habit that holds us back can follow this formula.
I wish to understand it
For every time I’ve used porn, three things are true. I …
- am emotionally triggered by something in life
- engage in broken belief systems or lies
- am unaware of weak links
What I know now is that the answer typically lies within the problem itself. If the formula for using porn constituted these 3 things, the real solution to the false solution of porn also uses these 3 things.
I learned over time that whenever I felt stressed, it created uneasy feelings of anxiety within me. One emotion I think I’ve always struggled with is feeling loved and feeling understood. When I was younger, I had a sexual encounter that left me traumatized to a degree I didn’t realize. It left me feeling that if anyone had discovered this experience, I would surely be unlovable.
See, it wasn’t so much that I was afraid of feeling loved but I believed I wasn’t lovable because of this. The feelings within me lingered and one way to escape them was through porn. I didn’t know this at first when I discovered porn, but I realized I could escape those unpleasant feelings on demand.
However, I’ve learned that Satan is your best friend until he isn’t. He assures you that he’s got the answer, leading you to a place he knows won’t sustain you. But he doesn’t care, he’s miserable and wants you to be miserable too.
The more I used porn, the more I learned how lonely that road became. It was a vicious cycle. I felt unworthy, ashamed. So I turned to porn, which left me feeling more of the same.
Other emotional triggers can include
- boredom, the need for stimulation
- procrastination, creating anxiety
- feeling misunderstood, leading to loneliness and isolation
- feeling unappreciated or not needed, leading to isolation again
There are a whole host of emotional triggers that can be revealed to you about yourself. They are varying and pertain to your life’s experiences and personality. However, addictions are the mind’s way of dealing with emotions in an unhealthy way.
And to define addiction, let’s settle on this definition: The extreme version of a habit. And to break a habit, however extreme it may be, we must make a habit. In order to make new habits, we must become aware of and correct our broken belief systems.
BS: Belief Systems
BS is a great acronym for this part of the formula because the belief systems we tend to believe that lead us to addiction are bull$h!t. They are false beliefs, or in essence, they are the lies we choose to accept as truths.
Some of my belief systems consist of lies like,
- “ A little won’t hurt.”
- “She doesn’t really need me.”
- “She doesn’t really want me.”
- “She, or they, would be better off without me.”
- “I deserve this to reward myself.”
- “I don’t have needs.”
- “I’ve got this!”
There are numerous lies that you may have adopted to justify your path to unskillful and addictive behaviors. These are a sampling of the ones I’ve told myself and began to believe over time.
When an emotional trigger meets a mistaken belief, that combination just needs an opportunity to manifest itself through addiction.
A weak link doesn’t provide protection against unwanted intruders. The reason strong links are necessary for addiction recovery is that, without a doubt, we will always have emotional triggers in life. We may begin to tell ourselves a false narrative as well.
The strongest defense is a great offense. Tony Robbins says, “losers react, winners anticipate.” When he says losers, he’s not referring to the worth of a soul. He is referring to losing a battle with an emotional trigger down the wrong path.
To win those battles, you must anticipate where the enemy can infiltrate your fortress.
For me, some of those weak links are…
- Being alone without accountability
- Not having a plan for downtime, expected or unexpected
- Having my phone in the bathroom, also related to being alone
- Feeling emotionally alone
We are not meant to be victims. We have been created to be actors—to choose for ourselves whether we will choose light or dark, right or wrong, freedom or bondage. To believe we are victims is a lie and will never allow us to take full control of our emotions and overcome addictive behaviors.
I believe you can do this. It takes work. It takes tapping into the creator who made us and thus, knows us to help reveal our weak spots, truth over lies, and our emotional triggers.
To quote Vision one more time, “I wish to understand it. The more I do, the less it controls me. One day, who knows? I may even control it.”