Yes, I said addiction, and I’m not going to be talking about alcohol, or drugs. Yes, those can be addictions, absolutely. What I want to talk about are those behaviors, habits, patterns, that we’re addicted to, maybe not even consciously, that continue to create issues in our lives. That keep us away from being our true authentic self, but which we do anyways.
If you think about an addiction, it usually is based on the feeling that you get when you engage in the behavior. It’s the feeling that you crave, that you repeat over and over. Robert Palmer sang about being “Addicted to Love.” If you take it literally, it was probably the addiction to the endorphin rush that comes with being with someone you love. Those feelings of safety, and peace, and belonging.
But what about when the addiction is not so benign? Lately I’ve been thinking about that question related to my own behaviors. I’ve noticed that I tend to get fired up about taking an action, a class, to embark on a shift in the way I do certain aspects of life. I have all types of plans swirling around in my head. I’ll take notes, I’ll start plans…and somewhere along the way, I’ll end up leaving a pile of dreams on the side of the road. I’ll be frustrated for a while, trying unsuccessfully to restart the fire. Usually that’s followed by a period of apathy. Don’t care. Don’t need to be growing. Abandon the creative passions that bring me energy. Slowly giving away my purpose.
I don’t like it.
But…I know it.
This week, I started questioning myself about it. Why is it that I allow myself to go through this cycle? There have been times when I push through it, absolutely. Last year I went through my 6-month coaching program. Nailed it. Loved it. Came out ready to set the world on fire. But I stopped feeding the dream and eventually it faded. And I have to wonder, is it part of an addiction? What’s the feeling inside me that comes up when I let a dream die? Easy answer. It’s disappointment in myself. It’s the voice in my head saying “of course you didn’t do it, it wasn’t important, you overreached…again…you’re not meant for anything big…anything exciting…not worth it.” It’s an ugly voice, but I recognize it, I know what to do when it comes up. I slow down. I settle.
That feeling that comes up, that disappointment, in myself, or that I perceive others have in me, it didn’t develop yesterday. Not a mid-life crisis thing. No, I’m sure it’s been buried in me for years. So I call it an addiction, but is it? Maybe. It’s a pattern. I don’t seek the feeling but know what to do with it. It keeps me small, safe in a way because I become hesitant to take risks.
I want to call B.S. on it. I want to find a different feeling. One that is healthier. One that is growing. These are choices we have. We can choose to follow the same pattern, same feeling we’re addicted to, or we can take different actions. And that probably won’t be comfortable, it’ll be new, maybe scary. But to be our authentic selves, for me to be my authentic self, I have to make different choices. I’m asking you today to think about what feeling you’re ready to give up, need to give up. Identify it and know that you can start behaving differently today. You don’t need that feeling anymore. I’m walking it out with you and know that we can do it, we can be brave, together.