Addictions occur when you seek to fill an emptiness inside you with something outside of you.Karen Salmansohn.
I have to recognize it! I have had several addictions in my life and even though they were not “that bad” in my personal point of view, they were anyway negative additions. I use to joke at them, to made fun of my additions, and talk about the “nice side” of them in order not to confront the real matter behind those bad habits: We all created additions because of a natural necessity of fulfilling our basic needs. The need to feel security, connected, the need to feel recognized, the need to have diversity in our lives, and the need of feeling important are the basic human needs and when we don’t understand how that need works in our life we develop then negative addictions.
Story of how an addiction starts
I will tell you the funny way one of my additions started: I was addicted to Coca-Cola! This addiction started went I went to leave to Atlanta, Georgia (the house of Coca-Cola). On my way to that new adventure, my mentor/uncle Diego (I talked about him in this post: Mentors – coaches / best friends: who are the guides in your life?) was preparing me to be really open-mind to all the new experiences I was going to live. He explained to me during hours the progress that the US had regarding technology, he told me several times about the automated machines, the inventions and he explained that we could even “talk to the machines”!!! Awesome! Then I found myself alone on my first day at school at Mercer University, where I studied English as a second language, I was in front of that big Coca-Cola vending machine trying to figure out how to buy my first Coke. It was not a big deal at first glance: just insert the coins and choose the flavor of the Coke you wanted it. That’s it! But one button of the machine starts to twinkle: I read on the button: “DIME”. I remember reading it allow: DI ME! In Spanish this word does not mean the classical American dollar coin, it means literally: “tell me” so having in mind my uncle’s pre-introduction to technology, I told myself: Well, Eli this is technology! so tell the machine what you want! And I start to say: Coke! Oh! It did not work. Mmm, maybe I have to say the word Coca-Cola! I even tried saying it with an American accent!! Thank God, no one saw me talking to the machine. I realized after someone else inserted the coin what happens and I laugh to myself like crazy. OMG, it was the silliest situation in my entire life!
After that experience, going to that vending machine was my excuse to feel happy, to laugh, to talk to people, to learn, and I related that need of been “connected” to the drink! So Coca-Cola became a real addiction! I used to drink 6 – 7 cans a day!!! Just until one day when my old car battery stops. Someone solve the car battery issue just by pouring Coca-Cola into it (the Coke cleaned immediately the battery residues that blocked the electricity of the battery) and when doing that person looked at me and said: it does the same effect on your stomach and your brain! I got choked! It made me realized what I was doing to my body and I stop drinking Coke. I replace coke with water! Just water!
Cultural additions and their nice excuses
My other big addition was coffee! But of course, I could not accept that coffee was an addiction because I was born in Colombia, where one of the best Arabica coffee in the world is cultivated! Coffee was more than a tradition! It is/was a family issue. To drink a “tintico” (a little American coffee) is something that we do with family, friends, at any moment. Besides, coffee was linked to very nice moments at my mother’s aunty farm in Bolivar-Antioquia (an amazing coffee town in Colombia). Coffee was also related to the little Coffee Jeeps where I had the happiest memories of my childhood. It was related to mountains, flowers, happiness. So I never even try to quit drinking coffee! Just until I wanted to prove to myself that I was able to replace a negative addition (that was hurting my body) for a positive one. So in January this year, I decided to stop drinking 15 cups of tintico a day! Yes, I did write 15 cups of coffee! And against all the possible reactions I expected to have after stopping drinking coffee (palpitations, sweating, bad humor…) I did not have any reaction: I feel amazing! I just told my body that I was the boss and my decision was a “not come back decision” and my body just accepted! So stopping an addiction is just a matter of taking the decision! Right now: I am the living proof of that: I became a Colombian that does not drink coffee anymore!
How I did it? Let me tell you the secret: the secret is not any to have additions, the key point is to replace negative ones for positive ones, like for instance instead of watch TV all the time, just decide to become organized! An organization Guru! That is nowadays my preferred addition, it is something that sparks joy in my life. When I sense that I need to feel connected to myself when I have the need to feel safe or to feel I am doing something different, I suddenly have a hurry to tide everything up (again and again) and to change things in my house! Like moving the sofa, adding another deco, creating a family DIY project.
I am also addicted to happiness and positivism. I had the need to feel happy because that connected me to the real me! So during the day, I had to look for small little things that made me happy: a smile, a kind word to someone, smelling a flower, saying a joke (even if mines are quite bad), helping someone. Talking to someone. Those are part of the habits that became really important to me because they help me to fulfill a basic need of humans: the need for growth. In order to stop a negative habit, we should find a positive one to replace it. So I replace Coke with sparking water, coffee with warm water with lemon, and or Matcha tea.
I still working on some negative additions that I still have, like sugar for instance, but I am confident I will find the correct balance and the “inspirational moment” to change the bad habits. In the meanwhile, I am trying to create positive ones to replace that one, like doing sports again. I realized that I have also a lot of positive ones that I want to improve like giving and receiving hugs!!
And what about you? What are your additions? What made you feel connected, safe, recognized? If you need help, contact me. Let’s talk about it!
With all my love and light,