I don’t drink, smoke, or do any drugs. How could I possibly be addicted to anything harmful? I think that sometimes when you are addicted to something, it’s hard to know if you are addicted to it. What is an addiction anyways? I define an addiction as something that you do that causes harm to another area of your life, and you can’t seem to stop doing it. I think this definition works because you can keep doing something that you can’t stop, but it might not be harmful. In that case it wouldn’t be an addiction, but maybe a habit that you can’t kick. An addiction is something that is harmful. This post will show you how to beat an addiction.
How to quit your addiction
As stupid as this might sound, the first step to beating an addiction, is to realize that you are addicted. You need to consciously become aware that you are addicted to something. For me, I realized that I could not stop playing video games. Every single day I played, and it really hit home when I realized that I could not go a single day without playing. I saw other people on my friends list playing games every single day, so it became normative to me. But when I saw some people who would go 9-10 days without playing, I thought, “wait, I don’t think I could even do that if I tried.” And I did try.
I tried to stop playing games for 30 days. I lasted 4. It was insane. Day 5 gave me the biggest rush of joy I had felt in a long time — or so it felt. I realized that I was addicted. When I wasn’t playing video games, I was thinking about them, and it made me want to play. This was real for me.
Think about it, are there activities that you can’t stop thinking about that are hurting you? Be honest.
Burn the bridge
The next step is to burn your bridge. It sounds extreme, but it is the only way. When you try to quit and you “fail” it is because you let yourself have a way out. You let yourself have a way to go back, just in case. You PLANNED to fail and go back to your old ways. It might be unconscious that you did this, but I know I did this, and that is why I want to share with you that in order to truly beat an addiction, you need to make sure you have no way of letting yourself go back to your old ways.
For me, it wasn’t enough to just unplug my computer and put it into a closet. Why? Because I took it out and set it up again. I needed to get rid of my computer. The best way I saw to get rid of it was to sell it online. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. This isn’t the only way. Going traveling and leaving it behind would be another way, but I needed to get rid of it.
This is what you need to do. If it is smoking, you need to get rid of your cigarettes. Throw them away, and set parameters so you can never acquire them again. You know what you have to do in order to burn your bridge. Do not give yourself an escape.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is not.
Bad things happen to everyone. You might even think in your mind that quitting something that you “enjoy” so much is going to be painful. And yes, it might be if you think of it that way, but if you think about what you are GAINING by quitting, then maybe you aren’t suffering.
You are not losing the high you get from smoking, you are gaining the money you would have spent on it, the time you would have spent smoking, the mental relaxation from not worrying about health consequences.
This is the truth: you may feel a certain way, but you can decide what it means to you. If you feel pain, you can acknowledge it, appreciate the signal, and then decide to take action. Or you can dwell in it, feel sorry for yourself, get angry at your fate, and all other forms of self-sabotage. It really is your choice.
A New Perspective on Addiction
If you subject yourself to something “painful” such as quitting your addiction, then you actually benefit from having gone through this chaotic behavior. Something that broke you down, but you recovered from has made you better off than someone who had never been broken down in the first place. You are actually better off than someone who had never dealt with an addiction. In even simpler terms, imagine someone who goes to the gym. They break down their muscles, but then they repair and are even stronger than before. If you were to live a life without subjecting yourself to anything bad, you would be depriving yourself of useful learning experiences.
For this reason, among others, I do believe that you should quit your addiction, and rejoice in the triumph over your struggle. Not to romanticize addiction, but it was not the most terrible fate you could have endured.
I do believe that addictions take away from your enjoyment of life. Freedom is something we all crave. When you are addicted, it is the opposite of freedom. It is almost like having a job you hate, but know you need. You put in your time (the addictive behavior) and you get your paycheck (the high).
Let’s unpack this deprivation of life model. Think about overprotective parents. They want the best for you, so they make sure you don’t experience any “pain.” They try to shield you from experiences — which is a good intention but can harm you exponentially.
Imagine if you never got addicted, and you never learned how to quit. Then in the future, let’s say you were promoted to a new role in your company, and need to completely change your work behaviors. You might not be able to do this because the old behaviors are so ingrained, and you never learned how to change your habitual behaviors. This costs you that promotion, which could have gotten you another promotion. The pay raise could have given you a new home, which led to new contacts, which led to even more money and freedom. This is all hypothetical, but the point is that experiences are invaluable. They harden you and better prepare you for the future.
What if you were afraid of a new experience? An experience that would debunk an irrational fear sets the stage for further progress. Deprivation of this experience means a loss of opportunity, both in the present, and for all future cascading events that could have become solvable from a single breakthrough.
I am not suggesting, for example, taking a job you hate just to toughen yourself up. If you get the message, hang up the phone. Learn the lesson, and move on. It is not worth committing years of your life to something if you know that it isn’t good for you. If it takes years to realize it, then so be it. Move on when you have learned your lesson.
I hope this has shed some light on beating your addiction. I know that it was hard for me, but I know I am better for having gone through it.
Best of luck to you, and if you’re up to it, let us know how you are working towards beating your addiction, or share a success story in the comments.
Are You Success Driven?
Sign up for weekly emails and our free eBook, Success Habits: The Key to Achievement, for free!