Obsessions vs. Addictions
Humans are designed to be obsessed with things.
It’s like an energy which needs to manifest in some way. The trick is to point that energy toward productive and sustainable activities.
To be clear, none of this is meant to belittle the experience of addicts. Nothing can replace professional help when it comes to hardcore addiction, but it can be helpful to identify where we see addiction in our lives.
I have been addicted to drugs and alcohol in the past without even knowing it. My cycle?
Take an Adderall in the morning to get a bunch of shit done
Get said shit done
Feel crash symptoms around 4 or 5pm
Drink booze to avoid the crash
Take an Adderall the next morning to beat the hangover
When it did this a few times, it felt harmless. But one day I woke up and realized I had done it every day for four months.
That was last summer, and I haven’t done it since.
Oddly enough, that wasn’t my most damaging habit.
Compared to heroin or alcohol, it sounds laughable, but this addiction took hours away from my life. I skipped school, failed classes, squandered countless opportunities…all because I couldn’t cut out this one thing…
When I tell people I had a severe video game addiction, they either get it immediately, or they look at me like I’m a child.
What people don’t understand is that it wasn’t a matter of creating a strong system: Giving myself certain hours of play or only turning on the console after my work is done.
When I’m into a game, it’s all I want to do or think about. Simple as that.
Since that’s the case, I didn’t spend a single second to think about how much I could sell my Xbox or Playstation for. I threw them both in the garbage.
That was five years ago now.
Again, while both of these addictions did serious damage to my wellbeing, I’m lucky to still be able to drink a beer or experiment with drugs responsibly and enjoy myself.
Anyone in the world of recovery will tell you that for almost any addictive habit, it must be replaced with another habit. That energy doesn’t simply vanish.
This is where obsessions come in.
Obsessions (for the purpose of this post) are opportunities for directing your addictive energy into something that has a positive effect on your wellbeing.
So I stopped playing video games and drinking booze every day. Now what? What am I going to do with all of these freed-up hours?
Well, in the last three years, I’ve accumulated a number of obsessions:
• Coaching • Learning/improving skills • Chess • Having fruitful conversations with friends • Brazilian Jiujitsu • Intense workouts • Building businesses
I would argue that all of my addictive energy has been allocated and spread into all of these new obsessions.
This has been my experience. Everyone is different.
Where do you see addiction in your life? For most people I know, the most damaging addictions are the ones they are totally unaware of.
Smart phones. Gossip. Junk food. News.
Identify where you see addictive energy. Then think about which obsessions you would prefer to direct that same energy.