Are You Addicted To Worry, Not-Having and Other Negative States?

are you addicted to worry by amyra mah

In my work as an addiction therapist, I have helped hundreds of people in overcoming all kinds of addictions.  Usually, when people think of addictions, they think of addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, gambling or internet gaming.  But these more commonly known addictions are just the tip of the iceberg, for beneath these conspicuous behaviours lie another kind of addiction: addiction to non-physical things.

By this, I’m referring to certain emotions or states of being.  The things that can’t be seen on the outside but take place in a person’s inner world.

This should not be hard to imagine.  Even if you’re addicted to a physical substance or an activity, the dynamics of addiction truly take place in your mind.

Here are some of the non-physical things that you can be addicted to:

  • Worry
  • Feeling guilty
  • Wanting something but can’t have it
  • Being betrayed
  • The feeling that something is unresolved
  • Something is missing/going wrong/out of place/needs fixing

For some people, their addiction comes from a condition I call ‘chronic negativity’.

Chronic Negativity

Sometimes, people don’t want to change, despite their insistence that they do.  How can I tell?  As soon as the person finds a solution or have a problem resolved, instead of acknowledging the breakthrough, let alone rejoicing and celebrating the succeess, they immediately focus on the next problem.  This constant looking out for the next thing to solve, shifting the goal post, indicates that the person is addicted to struggling.

Their minds are constantly interpreting events in a negative way and putting a negative spin on everything.  If solutions are offered, they tend to respond with a “yeah, but…” statement.  There is always something wrong, somewhere.  They’re caught in a typical addictive cycle of chasing the “next high”, i.e. the idea of solving the next problem, except they’re chasing an illusion, much like a heroin addict is chasing the illusory high which the drug can never give him or her.

Pattern of Self-Punishment

For others, they may harbour such a deep sense of guilt that they’re driven to punish themselves.  They’re so used to feeling guilty that they’re constantly creating opportunities to give themselves more feelings of guilt – even as they proclaim they want to rid themselves of guilt.  Overtime, the pattern of punishing themselves is so ingrained in them that they’re not aware of their behaviours and the decisions/choices they make which align with this pattern.

How do I find out if I’m addicted to something non-physical?

Look at what is not working out in your life, especially recurring themes.  What do these situations leave you feeling?

If you repeatedly find yourself ending up in a similar state, then assume that you are addicted to the feelings that these situations give you.  Some of you reading this may at this point protest the idea that you’re addicted to this familiar outcome.  You may even be outraged by the implication that some part of you might have chosen those situations – the very situations you have been struggling to resolve .  If you’re sick of repeating unwanted patterns in your life, then it doesn’t serve you to launch into a debate about how untrue it is for you.  It may even be an unconscious attempt at delaying your healing.  Instead, it would serve you to simply assume that it applies to you and do the work to free yourself from it.

Just gently reflect on this idea that you are addicted to the feeling it leaves you.  What if?  If you do this with an open mind, you will likely feel a growing sense of empowerment.  Discovering a previously hidden aspect of you often leads one to a place of empowerment.

Decide to drop it.  Once you know you are addicted, you can simply drop it.

Gently ask yourself, what if you choose to drop it now?

unusual wisdom by amyra mah

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Lan

    I really like your approach to recovery. I can’t imagine a rehab that would agree with this out of the box theory fly. Everyone I’ve met in the field has told me that “addiction is a disease.” I have always questioned it though…I don’t believe it. I Stumbled upon your blog during a low time in my life…again…but this really spoke to me. Im not going to go into my whole life story to explain why, but I will tell why I found your blog. I am lost. I have been through a lot, recently found myself at a good place, then managed to let my fiancé fuck it up. I’m sure its not really his fault, because I could say no…but when your living with him and his parents in a different state away from your family it just happens that easy. I sit every night and think maybe I should start going to meetings again…I just can’t fully accept the program. I think there is a different way. When I was n recovery I would get so much shit for saying that I don’t agree with the entire program. I don’t think I have a disease. There are certain people for example my fiancé that I truly believe are addicts…but I think I just need therapy or something to get to the bottom of this. I need to leave him…but that would be starting from square one, going back home. I like your blog, but the ending question you say so lightly is not quite easy. Reading above I sound crazy…so he has a disease and I am just emotionally fucked up? .so that’s why I chose him. This is my second fucked up relationship..with an addict. Maybe I just follow in their footsteps because I know they can make my emotions disappear. Idk.

  2. Amyra Mah

    Thank you for sharing about where you are at with addiction.

    I can empathize with you about your current situation and how challenging it can be when other people are a factor. It can seem limiting. But what I also know is that true change begins from deep within you. No matter how restrictive your options are and how challenging your circumstances are, there’s a domain that is totally within your control: your inner realm.

    True change, the kind that yields lasting results, must begin by you deeply questioning yourself what you really want. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t have anything to do with anyone outside of you. That internal shift must happen first, usually a shift in perspective or awareness. Rather than trying to force a change by relying on will power, I invite you to go to a deep place within you and connect with your truth.

    I send you blessings and love.


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