The short answer is yes. I know you may have had a strong reaction to that answer. “No way! I don’t even take drugs!” You may have just had a similar thought pop up, but if you experienced a negative emotional reaction to what I just wrote then that is the problem I am talking about.
Most people think of addicts as being addicted to food, illegal/legal drugs, sex, alcohol, or smoking. Those are the top five we hear the most news about, but there are others that are no closer than the skin on our own bodies and can drive you to use one of the top five to cope. Yes, humans use addictive substances to deal with addictions because they give us feelings of euphoria and mask the pain we feel inside. People are addicted to pain or to put it more precisely, it is the pain pleasure cycle that humans are addicted to.
This cycle is what drive decisions made every minute of every day. Let me explain. Pain influences those decisions because we usually want to avoid what causes the suffering. This could take the form of an uncomfortable situation, or an unpleasant memory from childhood. Those two examples can very well put us in a fight or flight mode, but the brain doesn’t know the difference so it causes the stress hormones in your body to activate even though you are in no immediate danger. That stress may cause breathing problems, fast or pounding heart, sweating, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, weakness or tremors, throbbing headache, feeling nervous, anxious, or fearful. I don’t know about you, but those side effects sound a lot like those experienced by a drug addict during withdrawals.
The hard truth is, humans derive pleasure from pain because the body creates chemicals that mimic a drug effect and this is what keeps us coming back for more. And to the mind, this is far more exciting than peace. In the world we’ve created, war within ourselves and each other is what runs the headlines and evening news. If you don’t believe me, go to any news website and the majority of the stories will be about something you should be worried about. Conflict draws you in far more than the story about food banks, and people doing other good deeds. Unfortunately, chaos is a big business and it isn’t slowing down fast enough for humans to gain the wisdom to change it.
We need to come to the sobering reality that change comes from the inside out. Because it’s not the outer circumstances that we must change, it is how we react to them which will have the most long-lasting effect. If we continue to respond with conflict then that is what we’ll get in kind. We must start becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. For example, the next time you want to reach for the phone to relieve your boredom, take a moment and feel what it’s like to not give in to that automatic reaction. Then you may reach for it anyway, but at least it starts to become less and less automatic. Consciousness has returned and you’re no longer controlled by your basest instincts.
So use the pain and don’t let it use you. Use it to remind you to wake up from the minutia of a typical workday. Motivate you to become free of the robotic way you’ve been living and begin to respond more naturally to life. Where there is suffering there is life sustaining energy. Take this newly found power, and apply it to a life dream or help someone fulfill theirs. Don’t let this inspiration die here. You have many opportunities throughout the day to bring more presence into this world.
“We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.” – Santosh Kalwar
“An intelligent person can rationalize anything, a wise person doesn’t try.” – Jen Knox
“There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away.” – Sherman Alexie