Emotional Addiction, for good or for bad.
I've been doing and daily gratitude practice, and I've been feeling myself re-orient to the good. To the positive aspects in my life and in myself. And since I've been thinking about emotional addiction for some months now, I can't help but see how there's a connection here.
We get addicted to emotions because they meet our needs. Feeling sad a lot of the time can be a way that you meet your need of feeling significant. (you feel sad, people pity you and pay attention to you, or your internal narrative says "poor me" = you're significant. You matter.) Feeling depressed can meet your need for stability and certainty. (if you're stuck in negative thought loops and feeling low, you know what to expect in everyday = stability.) Then if you have occasional days where you're angry instead of depressed, you meet your need for novelty. (you shake it up with anger to feel a little differently, powerFUL instead of powerLESS = novelty.)
And society, our conditioning, our environments, encourage and value feeling this way. As you can see, especially if you dig deeper within yourself and your emotional tendencies, these emotions come up and stick around because we need something.
So what if we just meet those needs but with something positive? Why not get addicted to something that actually feels good?
Recently while preparing my homework for the Astrology Summer School I'm attending (with www.herdarkermaterials.com or @darker_materials on Instagram, check her out) some thoughts came up around my perspective of politics.
In high school, I studied government and politics, of course, but it was all stored in short-term memory (as was much of what I learned in high school. Anyone else?). So today, I find myself rather uneducated and uninformed about politics and feeling some shame around that due to societal pressure. There are many narratives around why we should be informed and even angry. This is seen as good! Take for example the message that "If you're not enraged, you're not paying attention." This is emotional addiction and the glorification of misery. We see ourselves and others as virtuous if we are educated, involved, and angry about the political situation. This meets our emotional needs so we become addicted to these feelings and behaviors.
We live in a society that values struggle and negative emotion. And as someone who is not miserable regarding the political issues of the world, I have often felt shame because I'm not as upset or as informed as many people are. All you have to do is log onto social media to see this politically-fueled anger in people, and I'm just not one of them. That's not my fight. I can feel that I'm not someone who needs to have an opinion on all of that. I think I'm the one who is here to point out that we are making this a miserable, political situation because we are emotionally addicted and that this can be redirected.
Let me explain briefly.
Wouldn't you rather feel good about the political situation? I know, "Sure, but there's so much to be angry about." Yes, AND, there is also so much to be grateful for. Seeing what we don't want teaches us what we DO want. It gives us a second chance. And instead of being addicted to the negative feelings associated with what we don't want, why don't we try getting hooked on feeling what we do want even if we don't have it yet?
If we as humans have needs for things like stability, feeling like we matter, and novelty like I mentioned before, we can find healthy ways to meet these emotional needs. Maybe to meet your need for stability, you rehearse the emotion of gratitude in a journal, on your way to work, when you're washing the dishes, etc. Then gratitude becomes what you can count on. Then when you need novelty, you need to feel something new and fun, maybe you have a day where you feel some excitement and thrill by going to an amusement park, calling up an ex to apologize for something, blaring your favorite music in your car with the windows down, riding your bike with your hands of the handle bars, etc. Then you push your limits a bit and find novelty in excitement. And if you need to meet your need for significance, maybe practice service. Volunteer, put others first in some ways, and see how important you feel. We can try all of this instead of fighting with strangers on the internet about our political views to feel like we matter. We can look for and find reasons for positive emotions all around us just by redirecting our perspective, and we can foster positive feelings. All of us want to be happy, even those of us that are addicted to negative emotions.
So when we see people stuck in depression, stuck in struggle and self-deprecating behaviours, we can think, "Ah. I see here that so-and-so is meeting their need for stability/connection/novelty, etc." And there we find ourselves, too. We see ourselves. And we find compassion.
Just some quick thoughts on that today.
What are your thoughts on these topics? Do you see anything like this in your life?