By Estee Horn
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Carl Gustav Jung
Do you have an addiction?
We all want to be the best version of ourselves, have full control of our behavior (and eating) at all times, and be peaceful and joyful under any circumstances. Yet, most of us tend to lose our temper every now and then and do things we regret, like insulting our obnoxious families or buying unplaceable stuff.
We all promise ourselves we won’t do it again, and then find ourselves doing just that, as if we are possessed by a demon with a lousy sense of humor.
Losing control of ourselves, for reasons we don’t even understand, is quite depressing. It’s also quite damaging because our figures, bank accounts and surroundings aren’t very forgiving. Not after the sixth offense, anyway.
Over time, this lack of self-control becomes lamentably disastrous and ruins our relationships, our success and our self-esteem.
So we better learn how to conquer our unruly demons.
Starting with finding them.
Locating Our Demons
The first step, unoriginally, is to find who the specific demons that possess us are. We all instinctively give the control to our unthinking reptilian brain when we run into a primeval danger, like a snake. (Sadly, it has brought a premature death upon many blameless snakes, who’ve happened to mind their own businesses too close to human beings.) Yet, in less primitive cases, the buttons that activate us can be unique. Relatively unique, anyway.
To identify our favorite addiction, we better remember what we try to forget, that is, a behavior we genuinely regret. We try to recall an event when we lost control and couldn’t understand afterward what got into us. This is the place to find what is it that gets into us, and who the hell lets it in.
I, for example, found work to be very rewarding at the time. It occupied my mind, so I could work for hours and hours without having to think. I didn’t have to deal with any agonizing thought about our cruel world in general, or my lack of life in particular. I didn’t stop working for trifles like eating and drinking, and when my health deteriorated, I conveniently ignored my depression by working more. My bosses loved my devotion and complimented me frequently, so, as you can see, my work was indeed very rewarding.
Such times, or events, of us being irrational, crazy and harmful, are where we can look for our nasty demon. As Dr. Dina Eisen teaches, we all lose control, because we all have addictions.
Unearthing Our Demons
Our particular addiction is found in whatever makes us feel, to some extent, that “we admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.” This is the embarrassingly accurate description of the first step in the Twelve Steps addiction recovery program.
Some of our addictions are famous and ill-reputed, like drugs, alcohol or gambling. Others are considered to be normal behaviors, but we tend to idiotically overdo them. Such addictions can be too much of watching TV, shopping, having sex, surfing the internet, eating, watching porn, working, or other pleasant occupations like taking loans or complaining.
The most and worst of our addictions are those in which we’re addicted not to satisfying objects or actions. The demons we have the hardest time recognizing and facing are our addictions to innocent satisfying feelings, which we consume limitlessly and at all costs.
Fear of abandonment, for example, makes us addicted to physical and emotional closeness. Feelings of inadequacy make us addicted to approval. Anxieties make us dependent on information, money, and comfort zones. Insecurity makes us addicted to control, and (most importantly) being right.
Unsurprisingly, having one addiction doesn’t protect us from having another, or many others. Our unconsciousness has room for a lot of whimsical demons, though some are more monstrous than others. Life is never boring, and neither are we.
Capturing Our Demons
After we recall our regretful events, we try to recognize our demons, whether they like it or not, by investigating the following questions:
- What was the cause of the event? (For me, it was not having a life outside of work.)
- What did you expect? (I expected my work to answer my need of feeling that I’m okay.)
- Why did you expect that? (Because without approval, I felt useless.)
- What could have prevented or pacified your pain? (Knowing that I have some value outside of work, too.)
- What was it you really needed? (I needed to know I’m worthy, whatever I do.)
- What is your demon’s identity, its name? (Mine is a feeling of inadequacy, which deteriorated me to workaholism.)
Like Brothers Grimm’s Rumpelstiltskin, demons are horribly vulnerable to calling them by their names. It shrinks them. If they’re really tiny, they might fade right away.
Recognizing the button that activates us can enable us to understand other situations which distress us. (For me, feelings of inadequacy often make me do what I’m supposed to do instead of what I want. They also make me feel, mainly after I don’t sleep for a while, that I’m a failure and everything I’ve ever done has sucked. In addition, they make me too sensitive to whatever thoughtless opinion anyone has of me and my deeds. I admit that my addiction is somewhat discouraging, sometimes.)
At least now, that we know our enemies, we can find out how to protect ourselves.
Conquering Our Demons
Identifying our addictions, be it alcohol, approvals, sugar, information or shopping, enables us to stay away from our dangerous zones, like pubs, social media, kitchens, news, or malls. (Most of us tend to take an overdose of them anyway.)
I, for example, avoid my craving for approvals by being blissfully self-employed, among other precautions. Workaholism I avoid by conducting very strict rules concerning my work hours and being very bossy to myself about it. I never allow myself to work late, unless I ask myself in advance, consider it disapprovingly, and give myself unusual restricted permission.
Even if our out-of-control button is already pushed, our awareness can help us recognize it in time and come back to our senses. Sometimes. After a lot of practice. Maybe.
Our unconscious addictions are our weaker points, which can also be easily abused by not-very-well-meaning people and organizations. Advertisers manipulate us using our inadequacy feelings. Unsuitable suitors use our needs of attention and appreciation to gain our devotion. Many politicians amplify our fears to get our support. Workplaces usually tempt us to work harder using criticism or praises. The Media frightens us into consuming a lot of information. Insurances use our not-really-realistic insecurities, and drug dealers use our depression (but at least don’t pretend to do it for our benefit, unless they’re pharma companies.)
Being aware of our addictions enables us to raise a red flag when someone openhandedly offers us what we’re addicted to. It frees us to reject seductions of manipulators, and choose what’s good for us, not for them.
Ultimately, awareness frees us to make our choices consciously. Therefore, we can make much better choices.
Freeing Ourselves From Our Demons
When we get these obstructing demons out of our way, we’re free to be whoever we want to be. We have enough time, because we no longer spend it on things we don’t really want. We have enough money, for the same reason. Nothing is stopping us from carrying out what we plan. (Except for our other faults, and external circumstances, apparently. But what are those comparing to the spokes we’re putting in our own wheels?)
When we overcome our addictions, we don’t ruin our relationships, our health and our future anymore. Instead, we can achieve our goals, and become some sort of a superhero, only with no unnatural powers, obviously.
But most important of all, we become much happier.
And we stop being neurotic, needy and snappish, so our entire surrounding becomes much happier.
We may even become much more helpful, so the entire world becomes much (or slightly) happier.
By identifying one addiction at a time.
Resisting one temptation at a time.
Defeating one demon at a time.
About the author:
Author Estee Horn comes from a long line of not-so-warty healing women. She uses their word-craft, as well as her MA in Eco-Psychology, to help people slow life down and be happier. Get her free checklist of 15 Habits That Guarantee Happiness.