Sometime ago, I learned about something crazy interesting. It’s called emotional addiction and it’s no joke. In the same way that our bodies get addicted to substances, they can also get addicted to our very own emotions. Think about the emotions you experience often…the negative ones. Which among them do you know intimately, but wish you didn’t? After an argument are you often angry? …sad? …frustrated? Pick the one you know too well.
What if I told you that your body has developed an addiction to this very emotion? Basically the cells of your body have been welcoming this emotion for years. The emotion thrives and prospers in the body, commanding your neurotransmitters and hormones, making it difficult for you to react in any other way. Should you try to react differently, your body would go through withdrawal symptoms, just like the body of a heroin addict, and you would find it very hard to not give in.
Here’s an example. When Teddy and Melinda get into a fight, Melinda often feels frustrated. She leaves the room, finds another space, and gets on the phone. She calls numerous people to vent and bitch about Teddy but is always left unsatisfied. She needs more…more phone calls, more analyzing, more complaining. The cycle is never ending. My argument here is that Melinda’s actually getting high off of these phone calls. Her body is getting a hit of that “frustration” and actually craves it, just like a heroin addict craves smack. In order to get that hit, Melinda (unknowingly) looks for activities that will initiate frustration. Clearly, the phone calls are a quick and easy way to get high off her favorite drug. How interesting is that?!
So what does this all mean? Well it frikin’ sucks because I’m essentially telling you that you are up against years of your own biological evolution. But there is a way out. Therapeutic work to change emotional addiction requires discipline and commitment. When you feel that old emotion coming on (that emotion that no longer serves you), you must practice something different. In the case of Melinda for example, upon getting into an argument with Teddy, she should avoid perpetuating her frustration by making all of those phone calls. You must realize your emotion, accept it, allow it and deal with it in a way that does not preserve and prolong it! You must make this new choice over and over again for your pattern to change. It’s hard, I know. …still working on mine.