The ‘Addictions’ We All Have & Why You Should Give Yourself A Break

When people hear the word ‘addiction’, they most likely associate it with obsessive patterns of drug use or excessive behaviour that is having a detrimental effect on a person’s life. While these connotations hold true, there is a different type of ‘addiction’ that plagues each and every one of our lives without most ever even realizing. I’m talking about vices. Vices are essentially external things that we use as pleasure stimuli to gratify ourselves, also known as void fillers. This is something we are all guilty of to some extent.

We Are Always being Stimulated

From the day we are born, we are exposed to a plethora of environmental stimuli which our brain begins to compartmentalize as either pleasurable or non-pleasurable. Babies and children are given toys to satisfy their attention span, adolescents discover the joys of sugary treats, teenagers become consumed with alcohol, TV and Internet, college students begin indulging in drugs and their morning, afternoon, and evening coffee, and adulthood usually coalesces all of the latter. These vices are cunning and evasive, as most of us never realize how much these small pleasures are actually crutches. At some point the line between innocent pleasure stimuli and addictive vices becomes obscured, and these vices become fillers of ‘the void’.

The void is generated by the system. It is an emptiness that exists in most of us because we are never taught how to truly heal our inner voids. We are never taught at a young enough age that the adage had it right all along, “nothing external can truly fulfill”. Through spiritual discipline we eventually learn this, however.

This was a lesson I learned during a special type of cleanse, the spiritual precursor before drinking the Amazonian plant medicine ayahuasca. I got rid of all the vices I had accumulated throughout my life. I’m talking no alcohol, no cannabis, no sexual activity, no salt, no processed sugars or fats, no soy (I eat a plant-based diet), nada. I’m not going to lie, I was definitely scared. When I cut out all of those vices, it quickly became clear how much I was using them as an unseen crutch. I became aware of my sly addictions. Salt and sugar are the big ones. We don’t realize how much these two ingredients are added to our food. Pasta sauces, stir-fry sauces, snacks, crackers, fruits, soy sauce, soups, and the list goes on. I was shocked at how I didn’t recognize that my pleasure centers were constantly being stimulated by eating. Even losing the option to have a drink, smoke cannabis, or engage in sexual activity was strange; when you can’t do something, it’s almost as if your brain sends out the craving to taunt you. I couldn’t shake off the feeling of being bored and unfulfilled.

The moment arrived when it was just me and nothing else, kind of like the deep introspective moment during meditation. I had an epiphany. I realized how much worth I was giving all of these ‘things’ in my life. My pleasure and satisfaction was based around all of these external things. I was filling the void, buying time. Without all of these little habits I had taken on throughout my life, who was I? The great adage had finally sunk in and it made sense.

Whether it’s watching your favourite movie, TV show, or sports broadcast, eating sweet, salty, or fatty foods, drinking tea or coffee, smoking weed or cigarettes, drinking alcohol, working out, or even reading your favourite book, it’s important to ask yourself the following question, are these ‘things’ being used as vices to fill some sort of void? Would you feel bored or unfulfilled if these attachments were taken away? Really think about this question, or better yet, try it.

I extend the challenge to you right now. Try cutting out some or all of your vices, even if you only do it for 1 day. You will be surprised at the range of thoughts and emotions you will go through. When you are forced to face yourself with no other vices, you are catapulted into a space of self-analysis and observation. Although it may be scary at first, you quickly move past these feelings into a familiar space. You learn about the thing-less you, a humbling space to be in. Share your story with us down in the comment section, I’d love to hear it! Much love.

 

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19 comments
  1. Jeff, great post! You’re completely right, we’re “programmed” more than we all realize. Keep up the great work!

  2. The thing about the “thing-less you” is that yes, you do gain a better self understanding but that’s about it. I can see the potential benefits if an entire society practised this, but if it’s just you and everyone else operates on a reward system then what is the point? Maybe this is me being selfish or maybe there is something that I am not seeing here.

  3. Dude I can’t believe it. I was just talking with my girlfriend abouth the stuff between her mom and farmacy drugs. But they think its normal!! Is very normal because everybody does it, but is an addiction. For every little pain in the finger she looks for a certain finger-repair pill. But nobody consider that an adiction. Not even discuss the issue abouth alcohol. Same here in Colombia, same all over the world.

  4. Dude its incredible. Everything you say is true and we dont realize it. We all think is normal drink alcohol, coffee, sault, sugar, cigarrettes, candies and the list go on and on and on. All of that is pure addiction, thats the true. We are all addicted to the things and the system. But we think is normal. Thats the XXI century slavery. Mental slavery

  5. Sugar and salt, takes it to next level. This is the thing about spirituality, I love the most. It is so universal and can touch every aspect of your life. I once attended a Knowledge session, where Swami ji told that, we have been working in patterns for so many years. We even have a pattern for brushing, that much tangled our consciousness is.

  6. I agree that all of us has to make our own choice as to which pleasures are only used to fill the void. For example sex, which is part of basic human evolution, isn’t necessarily used by everyone as a pleasure to fill this void.

    I know of the void; I can feel it sometimes when I don’t have access to my computer.

  7. my vice as a child was t.v and drawing shit that i saw on t.v in class. But I would always be trying to process things going on in my life to the same shows. It was more like back round noise. once things like depression and anxiety kicked in, I noticed all these things started to suck me in out of the reality, and i started to lose my natural introspective ways. and of course drugs became good at making me not give a shit until my tolerance for consequences was breached. But every time I hit rock bottom i would lose interest in everything until I would just sit there in complete quiet. And then about so many minutes in reach a plateau of self knowledge that had for a while been dormant. the greatest thought though was recognizing it, and recognizing how easy it was to recognize before, and how come it takes me so long now. As a kid you’re a blank book waiting to be written and with so little written it takes less time to review. now we have so much shit to sift through with now found emotions to think about whilst reading, it seems it would take forever. But when you do go over and actually take the time to work through and delete the bullshit you leave less of it on your plate for later. and in my re-reading and analyzing, Rigorous self honesty, and self acceptance were the two factors i came up with that put me in a position of vices that made it easier, and allowed me to forget all the bullshit.(or act as if it wasn’t real). So 1st goal: self honesty; being comfortable with the truth. 2nd goal: self acceptance; being comfortable with yourself. yourself is all you truly have, to be comfortable with it just kinda takes the rigorousness out of life.that’s how i plan on writing my next chapter… ‘nough said.

  8. Well written post, and I agree to every word in it. Existence of all the vices that have been imposed by the system might be overwhelming for some readers. However, this post does not provide the next step. For many of us the source of fulfillment comes from outside, for example jobs we do or hobbies we take up. So what’s the alternative?

  9. We are in this physical experience to experience physical stimuli. These physical stimuli are concrete concepts that help us learn more abstract, spiritual concepts. Ideally we would use the physical stimuli as a spiritual learning tool instead of being a slave to these stimuli. How to properly manage physical stimuli may vary from person to person. However, in this physical experience, all of us will be subject to physical stimuli to varying degrees as it is an integral part of this experience.

  10. You don’t HAVE to cut off on things to realize you don’t need it… you just have to accept life as being mostly emptiness and find a reason to live. From my end it is to understand the world we live in and its laws (physcis,research,school) its my reason to live and its what’s really making me happy. Find your way and you won’t need those adds… but its not a reason to stop EVERYTHING there is a middle to everything. Sure those <> like you said may interfer with your real reason of living but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t exist.

  11. Yes it a great post and of course it is true we are programmed to fill the void from an early age and some of us have never really thought about why such a void exists in the first place. It does exist and it is not easy to welcome that void , I actually think the void is very much dependant on our lack of self discipline for me this is the case and in order for me to stop these addictions I really have to discipline myself to fill the void with less harmful activities, and creativity , I am struggling with a cigarette addiction, coffee addiction, laziness addiction and prob. a few more too so I would welcome your thoughts and ideas on how to banish these addictions as I find that sometimes the anxiety brought on by stopping say smoking for example is so tough that I give in to filling the void because I pity those around me seeing me so annoyed about feeling so empty really I suppose , my nerves take a bashing and it is painful, that is why I have come to the conclusion for me anyway that discipline is what I lack and if I could master that I may be on the way . Let me know your thoughts if any on my pens rambling and a Happy New Year to all reading this. Kath.

  12. Great post!. I think the point of reducing down until its just you and the mind in a quiet place is to really analyse your own brain. Understand and recognize the constant loop its doing, and disassociate yourself with the blathering and needing of external things your brain demands. This will simultaneously detoxify you (even faster if you breathe deep and oxidize the cells in your body) and you’ll stop operating majority in the brain stem (simple, egoic, selfish, scared of death otherwise your ‘lizard brain’) and start operating in the frontal cortex (emotive, creative genius, part). You will feel a collective consciousness with others and all living things and will realize regardless of others ‘reward system’ you don’t want to destroy the singular life form on earth (because all life is an extension of all life on this planet).

    If done correctly you won’t even have to read about it, it will just become apparent as the truth.

    All of this leads to a healthy Ph level, alkaline over acid my friends. You are more your immune system (that you need to empower) than a process in your brain.

  13. Excellent article, I usually try for lent to give up at least some of these things, sugar, coffee, the odd cigarette etc. Just to bring myself to an awareness of how I normally use these crutches.

  14. You need salt to live without it your organs would fail and you would die. But other than that the article is great.

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