After studying the work of many experts this is what I understand, If you can’t control your emotional state then there’s a good chance you are addicted to it.
Emotional addiction works exactly like any substance addiction. It starts with a rewarding stimulus. Initially, in a difficult situation, you cried or got stressed or felt sad, either someone comforted you or you just felt a rush. Sadness is an easily accessible strong emotion compared to a positive strong emotion like intense Joy, exhilaration or a strong dose of happiness. It’s as if for us humans, feeling something strong is always better than feeling nothing or feeling something average.
Then suddenly you find yourself in an environment which promotes the use, in this case, a certain feeling. Like failure, heartbreak or accidental loss promote sadness and stress, insecurity, pain, suffering, fear etc to an extent that it starts to become a habit. You are again offered comfort by others or you again experienced the rush. A strong bad emotion is almost like a high that always gives you a bad hangover, yet you dink up that emotion that tastes like shit because of the rush, the danger, the feeling of coming out of it is really Something.
But Slowly and eventually it takes more sadness to get the same high or even same comfort from others. Like alcoholics eventually need more and more alcohol to feel the same buzz. And Surprise! You are addicted. Much like alcohol, an emotional state like sadness, suffering, insecurity, fear, self-pity or loneliness also becomes a habit and then an addiction that you can’t control.
There is a brilliant documentary “What the bleep do we know” that talks about this and few more such concepts and the science behind them. It talks about how neuroscience has proved that when we feel a certain way for a long time our neurons from a set pattern associating more things to that bad memory. The more things you connect to that pattern the more things will trigger sadness in you, making it more difficult for you to get out of that sate. It also talks about how our cells which are the most basic level of consciousness of our body, become more receptive to those emotions and less receptive to others, conditioning us to feel that way easily, frequently and compulsively. That’s why even at a good job you eventually feel bad or feel insecure even in a good relationship. Sometimes you even long for the drama or as poets call it the depth that comes with pain and loneliness. You get addicted to a certain feeling so much that you accept it as a personality trait, or when you are in denial you tell yourself it’s your out of hand circumstances.
And much like any other addiction emotional addiction if not checked slowly ruins every aspect of your life, your career, your relationships with friends and family, your health, all of it.
The good news is that cells can be reconditioned and the set neuron patterns can be broken over time and just like any other addiction. All you have to do is say no when you feel the urge. Since we are talking about emotional addiction it’s slightly more difficult because the substance of your addiction is readily and abundantly available. It’s like being an alcoholic bartender. So how do you do it? The answer is strict self-control. Be conscious of your thought and feelings. Every time you feel bad about something, observe it then fix it or let it go. Constantly shift your focus on good things in life. Sometimes just watch a happy movie, talk to a friend who makes you laugh, go dancing, watch motivating videos, whatever works for you. The idea is to interrupt the addictive negative feelings with positive thoughts constantly and repetitively. At first it will be difficult to feel good when you are convinced situation is bad, but eventually, it gets easier and easier and after a while, you form a new, healthier habit. It really helps if you find a friend to do this with.
The key is knowing that your circumstances or your feelings don’t control your life, you have always had the controls. You just need to take charge.
I think I have also been one of those people who got addicted to bad emotions along the way. There was a time when I used to be so happy and there was a time not too long ago when I told someone “what’s the point of being so happy anyway, happiness feels shallow, there is depth in pain”. I thought it was poetic but now when I look around I see how many good things in life I was on the verge of ruining with the constant worry, fear, pain and overthinking that had become an addiction I suppose. No more. I am ready to take back control, I am ready to be happy.
© Copyright 2017, Niharika Jaiswal