How to break an emotional addiction

While nutrition and human optimisation are my main areas of expertise, the topic of emotional addiction is sitting with me right now, as I’m seeing it on a daily basis… in myself, my loved ones and those whom I work with.

Emotional addiction is linked to anxiety, depression and even panic attacks, and has become a coping mechanism in our abnormal world.

People are often in a desperate situation before they are ready to look for another way forward. When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of the change then we will change.

What does emotional addiction look like?

People with an emotional addiction have become dependent on feeling a particular emotion, or having a powerful, inherent response to their emotions. The reason they get hooked is because the brain releases chemicals as a response to these situations, which in some cases can be similar to the chemicals released when using addictive substances, or engaging in other addictive behaviours.

Those with an emotional addiction may become hooked on a specific emotion for comfort, relief, diversion or an escape. This emotion then becomes a fixation, an urge – and ultimately an addiction. People who develop emotional addiction may feel like their feelings control their world view. Their emotions become the prism through which they experience their lives. It’s not as obvious as a substance addiction, and is way more prevalent

Understanding emotional addiction

‘Addiction’ was a term used by Romans to refer to slaves.

A slave has no free will, very much like our own addictions, no matter how much we resist them they have a special hold on us. But what does a slave try and do? They want to escape. 

Addiction is never a choice and it is not a disease, it is an attempt to solve a deep rooted problem caused by some form of trauma. 

A trapped fearful person tries to escape from their imprisonment by their own trauma, mind-set, thinking, lack of self-love. Addiction is never a choice and it is not a disease, it is an attempt to solve a deep rooted problem caused by some form of trauma.

Some of us may be able to have breakthroughs in various ways, such as miraculous spiritual moments and other expericences such as plant medicine or prayer. 

Most of us need support and human connection to get to the root cause of our wound, and the word trauma in Greek means ‘wound’. 

Addiction in simple terms is perhaps as children we experience hurt, feel unsupported, fearful or lonely. An unheard hurt person gets trapped in a wound and then gets trapped in behaviours which can be of any kind, to escape the wound. 

There is a great book called the Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, & Healing in a Toxic Culture by Gabor Mate, which is worth reading. 

The trauma that we are experiencing is not personal, it is a sign of a culture completely out of whack. The things that are considered normal today in society are not at all normal from the point of view of human life and human needs.

All the addictions, the dis-eases and the mental illnesses are normal responses to abnormal situations. We live in a toxic culture.

Emotional addiction in our modern society

Why is this all surfacing now, why are people more outspoken than ever before?

The toxicity of our culture is so bad, humans tend to suffer in truth. Most people who embark onto the path of truth and self-discovery suffered so much that they had no choice but to find healing and resources. 

We have forgotten what human beings have always known that we are not only physical beings. We cannot separate the mind from the body.  We have so much advancement in “science” and modern medicine yet we are sicker than ever. 

In some traditional cultures when someone gets sick the whole community gathers around and thanks the person, your healing is our healing, your disease is a sign of some dysfunction in our environment/culture. Western medicine separates the mind from the body.

When last did you go to a specialist with a chronic illness and they asked you:

  • How is your stress?
  • How are your relationships?
  • Your general emotional state?
  • Your work?

The unity of the mind and body is a scientific fact. This has been proven and researched extensively in all prestigious and credible medical publications. 

There is an interesting field of research which is called interpersonal biology. 

Children whose parents are stressed are more likely to suffer from asthma, the parents’ stress affects the physiology of the child. Women who suffer from PTSD are likely to increase their chances of ovarian cancer. Men who have been sexually abused are three times more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease. 

You cannot separate the emotions from the body.

In the 19th century, a French neurologist was the first to identify Multiple Sclerosis – a disease he believed was caused by long term stress, worry and grief. In 1880 a Canadian physician linked stress and trauma to arthritis.

I recently read Sarah Wilson’s book on anxiety called ‘First We Make the Beast Beautiful’. It is such a great book on the topic.

A woman wrote “I had beautiful conversations with my anxiety, it always showed me how I wasn’t living in alignment with my true self – my anxiety was my ultimate teacher.”

Our emotions are always the primary causes of many of our chronic illnesses, be that of the mind or body.

“I have depression”

“I have ADHD”

“I have anxiety”

“I have…”

There is an assumption that these are separate entities from us but they are a part of us, not separate.

What if we saw all dis-ease of all kinds, mental or physical, as processes that impact our lives? 

If we live our lives differently we can change these processes, the outcomes and our chemistry.

There is not ‘it” that is separate from you, don’t buy into labels or short hand language of your illness.

A Harvard Psychiatrist, Dr Jeff Rediger wrote an excellent book called “Cured: The Science of Spontaneous Healing”. As did Kelly Turner in her book “Radical Remission”

Studies were carried out of people who were given days or weeks to live with no “cure” and how some of them cured themselves or what the medical world calls spontaneous remission. 

What made the biggest difference in these people? The person changed their relationship with themselves. There was trauma in the background and so cannot argue the impact of our emotions on the physical body.

I don’t believe that depression is a disease, rather a coping mechanism. Just like a disease, though whether mind or body, is a way of coping. To depress is to push down your emotions, to not express or feel you can. The depression of deep rooted emotional states that can go as far back as when you were a child.

Natural ways to help self-regulate emotions

I believe in human potential and possibility. I have seen it. Our biggest limiting belief is the belief of how limited we are.

We need to harness an environment for our children to be allowed authentic emotion to surface, be expressed and then be released. We need to create nurturing environments of love, support and allowance and go back to community, starting with us. 

It takes work, a new way of thinking, but it is possible. It is also part of our experience as humans to evolve through adversity.

ACKNOWLEDGE THE UNHEALTHY PATTERNS
Identify your emotional habit. It may feel like it’s been inherent to your psyche forever, but if you observe how you function emotionally you’ll be able to observe these patterns. This is the first step.

BUILD NEW NEURAL PATHWAYS
I am a big devotee of Joe Dispenza and his amazing work in the field of brain changing. Programs to think positively, rewire your brain’s reward system, create habits and build new neural pathways and new ways of being. I highly recommend his resources, especially his books. 

And I highly recommend the written work of all the other authors mentioned above. Immerse yourself no matter where you are.

AVOID BROODING AND OVERTHINKING
Instead of having the troubling issue on repeat in your head, look for diversions, something to take your mind off it – exercise, read, connect with someone, do something creative, cook, listen to a podcast.

BE GENTLE ON YOURSELF
Resist the urge to feel shame about your emotional addiction. Show love and compassion for yourself, nurture your self esteem as you find constructive ways to work yourself out of it.

LEAN INTO THE POWER OF CEREMONY & RITUAL
Your biology is regulated by your beliefs. I strongly believe in the power of ceremony so that we can change.  The feeling creates the healing. So we need to upgrade our software. We are entering a time or have entered a time where we have evolved from homosapiens (carbon) to homo luminous beings  surrounded by information fields whereby we have control over the inputs we choose to exercise. Start by creating a healing environment in your home, candles, essential oil and a sacred space for YOU.  We start by changing the chemistry of the physical vessel and the rest will follow more easily. 

NUTRITION TO SUPPORT
Nutrition is the foundation, as is sleep and key supplements that assist our basic physiology and cellular functioning.

  • Eating whole natural foods
  • Getting restorative sleep
  • Daily movement
  • Having a purpose or many
  • Having a community, a support system, or creating it yourself. 
  • Keep learning with podcasts, books and inspiring webinars
  • Seeking aspirational people who have gone through their own challenges and overcome their adversities (not filtered version of humans on social media)

SUPPLEMENTS FOR EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
I love certain supplements for emotional support. As we know there is a deep connection between the gut and the brain. A happy gut is a happy brain. These supplements are:

I will be interviewing some people in this field soon and will be sharing more on this topic.

I trust this helps on some level and that it gives you hope.

Much love,
Vanessa

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