Monday, August 10, 2015

The Upside of Compulsive Behaviors and Addictions

Today we have the scientific tools to observe what our best and brightest figured out centuries and millennia ago: addictions and compulsive behaviors are a result of a sequence of wrong choices that over time become habit forming by imprinting themselves into our brain, slowly robbing us of our conscious ability to withstand the emotional cravings.

And while we are now able to see the changes in our brain, we aren't really any wiser as far as the remedies are concerned. Unless, of course, you seek your help with similar brain-altering medication that somehow try to override the damage already done. No, the solution is still the same it always has been: wrong choices got you down this road, and only right choices will get you out of the hole.

The simple insight of neuroscience is that what fires together, wires together. And it is your emotions that light the fire in your brain. These pathways then get stronger over time, making these habits compulsive for you. So what is the way out? Well, will-power couldn't stop you forming these habits, so you may also be helpless overriding them again. So focus on positive emotions instead! What was meaningful to you before you got into that mess? Is there something about life that gets your creative juices flowing? Search for the two Ps in your life: purpose and passion; find love in whatever it is you do. Connections can rekindle that fire as well. That is in fact the focus point of the AA communities: helping each other and listening to each other's stories. 

The upside of climbing out of the hole that life, and you yourself, dug for you, discover the spiritual path that helps you falling in love with life again. Rekindled friendships, a new purpose at work, a new hobby. Find the guardian angel who lifts you up, or even better than that, become one yourself. Meditate and experience this inner silence you have never noticed before. Connect with nature and see God in every grasshalm, tree or the setting sun. It is so hard to override a set pattern that you have no choice but to completely reinvent yourself. That gives you in fact an advantage over the fellow next door since you don't have a choice but to move forward. And as far as your altered brain structure is concerned, no worries, your brain will rebuild itself based on the life you are living. You are in charge. Fall in love with life again, and you body will happily follow behind.

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