A recent conversation with new friends helped me to see addiction and addictive personalities in a new way and I hope to articulate that perspective in a way that may help you to gain a greater sense of control, security, and peace in your life. Like most things in life, addictive personalities are a double-edged sword. If directed properly, they lead to a level resolve and persistence that is hard to achieve by those less blessed by an addictive personality. If misused or misdirected, however, an addictive personality can accelerate and compound the downward spirals associated with poor decision-making.
On the surface, addictions relate to any area of your life where you repeatedly participate in behavior that has negative and often unhealthy consequences. Addiction is a disease that comes in many forms and people appear to have varying degrees of inherent proclivity for addiction. The most common types of addiction are: behavioral, substance, and impulse. Some of the more familiar addictions include: alcoholism, tobacco addiction, sex addiction, drug addiction, internet addiction, shopping addiction, food addiction, gambling addiction, and impulse addiction, where the individual may struggle to manage their emotions and actions.
Addictions may also come clothed as so-called “good” things (eg., exercise, healthy food, or work), but these, too, can lead to potentially dangerous and unhealthy imbalances. In either case, it becomes clear that the cycle of addiction often involves dysfunction in the brain that is linked to environmental and genetic factors. In other words, addictions can quickly become complex, overwhleming, and challenging to rein in, especially in the experience of a person with a highly addictive personality.
The highly addictive personality is like a sports car with sensitive steering and a responsive suspension. Substances, experiences, emotions, and behaviors that might barely be noticeable to someone who was more “built” like an SUV can cause a more addictively-natured person to swerve and veer quickly off course if they are not alert and in a good place, emotionally and mentally. Again, we see the dual-edged nature of the addictive personality as a someone thus equipped can also make rapid changes to get back on course, whereas someone less addictive in nature might take a while to wallow back and forth back into the center lane of life.
Finding your way back from an addiction can be a challenge, as I mentioned above, as the inherent regulatory systems of the body and mind move quickly to compensate for imbalance. Regardless, if you are addicted to something (and you probably are to one thing if not many), the way back can take very specific and consistent effort and as much honesty and humility as you can muster…both of which are made easier by having the right support group and friends to get you back on track.
True friends are friends who will hold the line for you. True friends are symbolic gateways to your higher self, either because they represent something higher to you or they remind you of the better part of your true self that has been numbed, dumbed-down, or sidelined because of your addiction. A true friend will always and only agree with the truth of you (e.g., your noble qualities) and a true friend will never agree with your lower, baser, coarser, self. They will empathize with your woes, but they will take great care not to become sympathetic and subject to that which temporarily limits you. A true friend will also be cautious not to enable your addictions, either by encouraging or participating in them with you. They will always hold the line that leads to your higher self. If they don’t, they are not a true friend.
True friends will listen to but, not tolerate your complaints, justifications, or rationalizations. Neither will they judge you for your limitations; they will reliably and selflessly love you as you are, while reminding you to of their appreciation of the revelation of your highest and finest. They will remind you of your strengths, of that which you now have, rather than agreeing with you on your lacks, weaknesses, and wants.
On your side, however, there has to be a willingness to surrender to that which is higher in you and those around you. Coming clear of addiction is less about “trying” and more about “letting.” You have to yield (another word for “let”) to something higher if you are to be lifted up out of the mess that you have likely created for yourself through your addictions. Abstention is necessary as well, but not sufficient. In most cases, just stopping the negative behavior won’t clear the pattern. The pattern will likely repeat if all you do is abstain. To come fully clear, to be fully free, you must let, that is, yield control, to something higher. You cannot be in control if you are not under control.
In any case, having an addictive personality has its advantages. The heightened sensitivity that comes with it is like an early warning system. You are equipped in a way that you can perceive and respond more quickly than others, a capability which properly handled puts you naturally in a guiding or leadership position. To take full advantage of this, you will need to learn a thing or two about handling pressure and creative cycles, but that is a topic for another consideration.
You were born to extend the control of that which is above you into the chaotic and often messy world around you. To the degree that you let the chaos determine your next moves, that is, to the degree that you react to the world around you in an automatic or careless way, you will likely fall prey to your addictions and become part of the problem rather than a catalyst for its resolution. To the degree, however, that you realize that you have a hidden advantage and actually use it to your advantage rather than to your detriment, you will find yourself moving much more quickly toward a state of greater control, security, and peace in your life.