10 Steps for Fighting Harmful Behaviors and Getting Over Addiction

It was such a simple move, but simply acknowledging my addiction has changed my personal outlook quite dramatically. It has helped me understand why I do some of the things I do and how to consciously make a decision to stop reverting to all these things that end up harming me in the end. Nevertheless, I am a plan it out kind of gal, and I feel like writing down a plan will make me more accountable to myself. So here are my 10 steps for fighting harmful behaviors and getting over addiction:

 

1. Pinpoint actions and behaviors that you turn to when you stressed, depressed, or in a generally negative state of mind.

2. Answer these questions: Does this make me feel better in the short term? Does it have harmful long-term consequences? Am I becoming dependent on this? Do I know how to cope with my stress without this? And finally, am I addicted?

3. Acknowledge the addiction and make a conscious decision to get over it.

4. Make a list of reasons why it is harmful. How is it affecting your life in a negative way? Reinforce your reasons for quitting so that when you start to relapse, you remember why you committed in the first place. Write these reasons down and keep them accessible.

5. Make a list of your triggers so you are aware of when you are most vulnerable and when it is most important to steer clear of your addiction.

6. Find a hobby, or a make list of activities to fill your time with instead. Personally, I am trying to start meditating more regularly. I’ve also been practicing piano much more, as creating music is something that builds my confidence and allows me to be comfortable with myself. Going for a walk or listening to music are also great activities. Something my therapist suggested, but I’ve only tried once is listening to an audiotape to keep thoughts from going astray.

7. Reward yourself! (Albeit not by giving in to your addiction) Treat yourself to a meal at your favorite restaurant or buy yourself something nice. Set personal goals for your addiction, be it number of days, weeks or months, and when you fulfill these goals, give yourself a little something.

8. Get in touch with your feelings. A large part of meditation is understanding your emotions and mental states. When you are sad, acknowledge your sadness and try to understand what it is that is making you feel this way. By becoming more aware of what is going on within you, these emotions have less control over your actions.

9. If you have a relapse, don’t give up. Acknowledge that relapse is natural and happens to the best of us. It is not a setback. It is simply a reminder of how difficult recovery is and how strong you are for having come this far. Keep chugging forward.

10. Celebrate yourself. Acknowledge the little victories. Did you get out of bed today? Did you smile at least once? Did you make someone else smile? Did you check off something on your neverending list of tasks? Did you fight off an urge? Did you remember to celebrate yourself?

Metta.

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Addiction

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Addiction is more common than we realize. It goes beyond alcoholism or drug addiction. Much of our society is addicted to the internet, to being constantly online. Other talented folk are addicted to practicing their sports or their instruments. But these things aren’t necessarily bad or harmful. I’m talking about the addictions out there that mimic the effects of drugs or alcohol, that make you feel deceivingly good or at least numb for the smallest amount of time, but ultimately leave you in a much worse state then before. I’m referring to our addictions to certain emotions or actions or even people. This may not be the case for everybody, but as someone with an extremely addictive personality, I am starting to see how addiction has been manifesting in my life in ways I never realized.

Every person has their own way of dealing with stress or depression (the emotional trigger). Some turn to drugs, drinking, or sex, which are okay in moderation, but not in large doses. Other stress relievers are cutting, undereating, or overeating. These behaviors often come into play because people feel like they are losing control over their life and they reach for the one thing that they believe they can control. I have a tendency to deal with stress through impulsive behaviors, whether it be getting piercings or tattoos, or any of the above. While engaging in these behaviors gives me a sense of control and short-term elation or just numbness, I always end up at the other end feeling no better and often times worse, especially since I am aware that my body physically can’t handle some of these things.

My worst addiction is something that I’m not comfortable discussing online, but it is something that I never even realized I was addicted to. On a good day, I don’t even think about it and I’m always proud of myself for being able to control myself. But in times of stress or depression, its nearly impossible to get it off my mind. And every time I give in, I find it harder and harder to stay away the next time I am stressed out because I haven’t learned to deal with my stress in a healthy way, without this fall back.

So this post is my acknowledgement of my addiction, my first step to recovery. And my promise to myself that I will start addressing this addiction, and any other addictions I have in my life. I know that it won’t be easy, but I want my actions to be things that I want to do, not things that I need to do.