With so many different types of people on the planet it’s understandable that we all have different views. We only understand and perceive the world through our own eyes. We have all been born with different genetics, mindsets, life experiences, influences, and been conditioned and programmed from birth in our own unique ways. After spending some time in Chiang Mai at healing school I’ve had the time to reflect on my life and the daily choices I make, my discovery; even balanced spiritual beings can find themselves with an addiction.
I’ve spent the past 5 years conditioning my mind. So from the moment I wake up I have chosen to re-programme the way I think. This started with a daily mediation, gratitude practice, exercising- moving my body, being aware of but an observer of my thoughts without judgement. Looking at the quality of my internal world to improve my external. Creating this inner peace takes time. To re-programme a lifetimes worth of thoughts and conditioning takes practice, but the rewards are so magical. Putting us on our direct path to creating literally anything we desire.
So if I have created this epic daily routine you’d imagine that my life is perfect right? Yes this daily routine has hugely changed my life in so many incredible ways I cannot even begin to describe, but (yes there’s a but!) I have still fallen prey to some addictions of my own.
Our lives are so busy these days. It’s easy to see how behavioural addictions can creep up on us. Even those of us that feel connected and in touch with who we truly are we can lose our way. For some people it may be during times of stress. Perhaps it’s the one thing you feel you can control in this fast paced sometimes crazy world we live in? but when should we stop and take note that something may no longer be an activity we are choosing to engage in but it may have become a full blown addiction.
An addiction is when we have lost the ability to abstain. A behavioural addiction specifically is a compulsion to continually engage in an activity or behaviour despite the negative impact it may have on your life. It may affect the person’s ability to remain mentally and/or physically healthy and even with this awareness of hurting themselves they continue the behaviour.
Some common behavioural addictions include shopping, partying, gambling, food, sex, internet dating apps, exercise, social media. Yes we may enjoy some of these things but if we are addicted to them, we cannot stop engaging in these activities compulsively despite our awareness of the negative consequences. We know they are not serving us! Perhaps they give us feelings of guilt, anxiety or depression but we still do them! Maybe they take up our time or affect our real human interactions with our friends, family or work colleagues. I wanted to dig deeper and to break down my behavioural addictions, to face them head on and then rid myself of them for good.
I spent most of my 20’s partying and looking back I was addicted to the adrenaline rush of the wild, carefree behaviour. Blocking out responsibilities that I may have and living for the weekend. I’m not saying partying is bad, but if it means you cannot function properly after the weekend and you continue to engage in this behaviour despite it’s negative impact on your week ahead then yes, it has become an addiction. It’s so socially acceptable these days for people to drink wine every night if they have had a tough day in the office, to engage in mindless behaviour like computer games, binge watch TV series or use internet dating apps to avoid connecting with ourselves and how we truly feel. What is our internal state? Or are we just blocking this out, letting life whiz past us at a million miles an hour avoiding how we really feel inside.
If I fast forward to today, I have spent the past 5 years learning about the human body and mind, personal development, spiritual practices, connecting with myself, understanding that we are in control of everything. Life does not happen to us it happens for us to create our dreams. I have manifested and created everything from my vision board. I’m now building my new upgraded vision board! I have a connected loving relationship, I am surrounded by people that lift each other up. I am running a business that is true to who I am and my core beliefs and values. I live by the beach, I can swim in the ocean whenever I like and am blessed with a year round warm climate. These are all things that were once only a dream, a vision. I created my dream life yet having this time out of my normal fast paced every day life I have noticed that I have behavioural addictions I’d like to address. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of them before but like many people I just lived with them, and as life rushed by they just became part of my life.
Nearly every day when I wake up I check my facebook and instagram. If I’m honest with myself it’s pure habit as I’m usually at that time in the morning not that interested in what I see. Living abroad these social platforms are amazing for me to connect with friends and family in the UK and across the world but even if someone has posted wedding photos, new baby photos etc am I really going to fully engage at 4.30am when my alarm goes off? The answer is no! It’s a pure addiction and I check my socials more often out of habit rather than the huge desire to see what has happened since the night before, which is realistically not much!
My second addiction is coffee. So whist I am mindful of my intake, I start each day with a double espresso. I don’t allow myself to drink any more throughout the day but still if this was removed I would feel anxiety about it! I would miss the smell, drinking it, the buzz of the caffeine hit.
My third addiction is food, specifically emotional eating. This is something that as a fitness professional and with so much knowledge in nutrition you would imagine is easy to crack but I find it quite the opposite. Having the knowledge about what to eat doesn’t eliminate the cause for the emotional eating in the first place. So often in todays society we are told to mask the symptoms. If you feel down take these pills instead of identifying the route cause for the problem in the first place.
Even during writing this blog post I have checked facebook and instagram twice. Seriously, that is ridiculous! I observe it’s often not because I am even interested in what I may read but a distraction technique because my attention span can when I allow it be short!
So here are starting steps to improving my behavioural addictions and perhaps it may help you with some behavioural addictions of your own! Always remember we are all different so do not compare yourself to others. I might need 8 hours sleep to function optimally where as my friend may only need 6 hours. I should perhaps only consume 1 coffee or caffeinated drink per day and perhaps my friend could drink 3 and the caffeine would not affect her in the same way. I might feel spending time online affects the quality of my relationships but for you maybe it gives you the confidence and ability to connect with people you wouldn’t ordinarily speak to. Remember we are all unique.
Step number 1 is awareness. We cannot change anything if we are not aware of the problem. Awareness is key to change. So sit and have a think of any behaviours you may regularly take part in that are not serving you. White them down and think about what ‘need’ are you trying to fulfil when you do that action. What are you feeling in that moment? Where are you? Who are you with? Are you alone? Do you feel lonely? stressed? bored? become aware of what is happening in that moment. What is your posture like, how are you breathing? Write it down, tracking is key to making changes. Trying the same things over and over and expecting a different result is not going to happen! Writing things down in a journal can help you become self aware and help you see things from a different perspective.
Commitment number 2 on my quest to kicking my behavioural addictions is I will not check my phone until I have finished my mornings work and I will not use my phone after 6pm. This is narrowing the amount of hours I can check my phone down from a possible 24 to only 6 hours. It will also ensure I am more present for the people around me instead of often walking around head down into my phone. I can already see the benefits and I feel good about taking action on improving the quality of my life.
Commitment number 3, I will reduce my daily double espresso down to 1 shot. I am a big believer in balance, I think 1 shot of espresso for me is fine. Always create a lifestyle that works for you. It doesn’t matter what works for your friend, they are not you! Live by your own standards.
Step number 4; I have spent some time identifying why I emotionally eat. The main cause is lack of sleep. When we do not get enough sleep we can be more sensitive to external factors but it also affects leptin and grehlin our hunger hormones. Lack of sleep will send us out of balance inducing cravings and often for high sugar or fatty foods. I have bought some lavender essential oil to help me relax before bed. I will not be using my phone after 6pm allowing me to wind down and switch off. I have new bed sheets and scented candles, creating a relaxing sanctuary in my bedroom. Yes, I have the noisiest neighbours in the world so this affects my sleep pattern but I am focusing on the the things I can control and letting go of the things I cannot. The other time I emotionally eat is if I feel stressed. I have spent some time re-structuring my work / life balance. When you work for yourself it’s hard to know when to switch off. Especially because the line between work and pleasure is a very blurry one. I am constantly reading and learning in order to give my best self to my business and clients and I love my craft but I am working on balance.
The first step to change is not always forward it’s often inward. Yes my ‘addictions’ may not sound that bad to you but I can see that they affect the quality of my life. They affect my self esteem, my choices and my life. I don’t want to spend hours of my day mindlessy checking socials with literally minimal reward. Yes I have very high standards for the life I chose to live, but I think why not! We might only have life in human form this one time!
I have made so much progress in myself, learning how to live the life of my dreams. I am finally allowing myself to embrace my feminine flow and upgrade my life without judgement and from a place of love. I am grateful that I have the courage to look within, be honest with myself and to continually review my life choices. I am grateful for any challenges I may face along my journey, they allow me to understand and help others more authentically. We are allowed to be a master piece and a work in progress simultaneously.