Working with addictive tendencies

Some ways of working with addictive tendencies…

  • Repeating, until it gets old. This involves some awareness of the process, as it is happening, so the whole dynamic gets old after a while, and there is a disidentification with it.
  • Actively indulge in, until I get sick of it. This is one of my favorites, at least with moderately unhealthy to not so unhealthy addictions! I indulge in them actively, until I get thoroughly sick of it and the attraction falls away.
  • Actively combine the memories of doing it + its effects. I often use this with addictive tendencies to foods which gets the body out of whack, such as (for me) sugar and dairy. When I experience the effects of the behavior, I actively combine this felt-sense experience (or, if I do it later, the memory of it) with a felt-sense memory of indulging in the behavior. That way, the action and its effects are made into one unit in my felt-sense memory, and the attraction tends to fall away.
  • Using Process Work to find the hole I am trying to fill, and then explore other ways of filling it. Imagine indulging in the addictive tendency, and then experience the pleasurable effects and follow the process behind it using any or all channels such as visual, sound, voice, movement and so on. Then see where it leads, which “hole” I am trying to fill through the addictive behavior, and what else may also fill it. I used this a few years ago on an addictive tendency to sugar, went into the pleasurable effects of eating sugar, and then followed the process behind it until it ended up in jumping up and down as a Masai warrior. To my surprise, that movement gave me exactly what I was trying to get through eating sugar, although without the unpleasant effects. I did this movement several times in the following weeks, especially when I noticed the impulse to eat sugar, and the sugar addiction eventually fell away (or at least subsided to a very minor level).
  • Finding, here now, what I am seeking. Is it true that what I am seeking is not already here? (Adyashanti’s question.)
  • Identifying the belief(s) behind it, and inquire into it. What are the beliefs behind the addiction? The obvious ones are “sugar gives me what I want”, “I need to eat sugar”, “I cannot stop eating sugar” and so on. And then, there are the others ones which brings up this impulse in the first place, which could be just about anything such as “I need approval from others” and “life is unfair”. To find those, it may be easiest to just notice whatever beliefs are triggered in daily life and explore those.
  • Using voice dialog or the Big Mind process to explore the voices behind it. What does the voice of addiction has to say? What other voices are involved? How do they interact? How does the voice of addiction support the human self, and how can it do so in a different (more clear, conscious) way?
  • Being with the impulse, as it is, without wanting it to be any different, and without acting on it. This involves a wholehearted and heartfelt being with whatever comes up… the impulse to engage in the behavior, the emotions and sensations associated with it, whatever comes up when I do not indulge in it, and so on. This allows the impulse to be fully seen, felt and even loved, and when done without engaging in the behavior, tends to weaken the link between impulse and behavior. If I engage in the behavior, I tend to first be with the impulse without engaging, and then also as I engage in the behavior.

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