The Worst Thing to be Addicted To

By: Susan Dunn, Ma, Personal Life And Eq Coach

Sheley is worried about her financial situation. She has a home business that seems promising but is still barely producing and her credit card bills are starting to pile up. She picks up the newspaper to look at the want ads, thinks about doing some marketing for her home business, wonders which is the best course of action or if she should do both, and then decides to have a cigarette and clean the house.

Sam has marital problems. His wife has abandoned the marriage, not just emotionally, but she’s moved out of the house. He knows it’s over and wants to find a new love and get on with his life, but he’s worried about the financial consequences if he files for divorce. He picks up the phone to call a lawyer, gets put on hold, and decides it’s a better time to go sailing on his catamaran.

“The exercise will be good for me," he tells himself. “Taking these extended sails is getting me in good physical shape. What does it matter if I take another 3 days off?"

Antonio has no idea what to do with retirement. People keep telling him how lucky he is to be able to retire, but he doesn’t see it that way. It’s one worry after another trying to figure out what to do with himself and how to pass the time. He has a nagging suspicion his personal life coach was on to something in every suggestion she gave him, particularly the one about his sense of self-worth being attached only to his profession and his need to develop his emotional intelligence and start creating the next stage of his life.



He picks up the ebook she sent him and reads something about authenticity. “This is getting on my nerves," he tells himself, and his thoughts wander to his mistress. His hand reaches for the phone.

Each of these people is addicted to something that’s stalling them out. The activity chosen varies, in their cases nicotine, a compulsive physical activity, and sex, but the real source of the problem is their addiction to worrying. The addiction gives then something to do when the worry builds up. It’s action, but it’s spinning wheels, not going somewhere.

An addiction can be something that’s bad for your physical health such as cigarettes or drugs, in which case it’s a stretch to rationalize; or it can be something that’s good for your physical health, such as jogging or boating, in which case it’s easy to rationalize and you’ll also get positive affirmation from others. However, any addictive approach is bad for your total well-being – your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health.

Addictive pursuits give us something to do that relieves the tension, but it’s not doing what needs to be done to address the situation. It fills time and provides “busy-ness" but when it’s over, the worry returns because the problem hasn’t been addressed. It’s a misuse of emotional intelligence to consider that the activity has made you “feel good," So does cocaine, temporarily. Feeling good as a state of being requires facing problems and addressing them.

When Shelley’s had her nicotine and cleaned the house, she’ll still have to face what to do about her financial situation because she’s done nothing about it but avoid it. Sam will return from another 3-day escape into sailing tanned and muscular and he will still be trapped in an unresolved situation that’s sapping his energy. Antonio will have a great evening with his latest mistress which will take his mind off his problems, but it’s only temporary euphoria, not the same as knowing you’ve taken care of business and your life is in order. At the end of their time-outs, they will feel worse about themselves and about their situation for having run from it.

Emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness. Take a look at what you do when you start to worry and get some outside feedback such as coaching. Is it a realistic worry? Have you made a plan to address the root of it? Have you taken the first step, which is the hardest? Have you gotten the emotional side of it handled?

Worry is a waste of time and treating it with an addictive activity or substance is adding insult to the injury. It will always be easier in the short-term to ruminate and then grab a piece of chocolate or numb your mind with alcohol, but in the long run you’ll end up with a new problem on top of the old one. If you recognize this as a pattern in your lifeHealth Fitness Articles, are you ready to try something different?

Addictions
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