Common addictions such as drugs, alcohol, smoking, sex or gambling are familiar to us. They destroy families, ruin businesses and end lives. But I recently read about a kind of addiction I didn’t know could exist: addiction to certain emotions.
I’ve been reading the book How to Do The Work by Dr. Nicole LePera, which some of you may know as The Holistic Psychologist on Instagram, and found that addiction “isn’t limited to specific substances and experiences” — cycles of human emotions can be addicting as well.
The concept of emotional addiction applies when we seek certain emotions or try to avoid them as a way of coping with trauma. This works on a subconscious level and I’d say it’s even harder to realize. It’s an addiction pattern because there are no harmful consequences such as overdosing, coma or bankruptcy.
Symptoms that indicate that something is unbalanced are usually numbing or depressive states that linger on when we’re forced to face ourselves. What are we without that feeling of victory? Without that rush of excitement? Without that magical infatuation for someone? We sit and stare at ourselves, barely capable of dealing with our issues and traumas we are unconscious of.
The brain learns to crave the feelings associated with trauma response. This is the loop of emotional addiction.Dr. Nicole LePera
A New Definition of Trauma
I found another mesmerising fact: trauma can be, but doesn’t have to be caused by a deeply catastrophic event, such as severe abuse, neglect or experiencing a war. Traumatic experiences aren’t always obvious.
As Robert Scaer, neurologist, defined it, we should widen our understanding of trauma to include a diverse range of overwhelming experiences or simply:
any negative life event ‘that occurs in a state of relative helplessness’.
As in any addiction, there are behavioural patterns. I’ve learned the first step to overcome trauma is becoming conscious of it. There’s no way we can reprogram our minds if we have no consciousness of what thoughts and behaviours keep us from evolving.
In addition, we must make “small promises” as Dr. LePera calls them, speak daily mantras in our minds, to redefine those destructive patterns.
In conclusion, have you ever thought of the concept of emotional addiction?