Welcome back to the Therapy Spot! This week, let’s talk about what can happen when our methods for coping with stress get out of hand.

With stress, we often feel the need to seek immediate relief. Then our distracting parts enter the scene to help. What does relief look like for you?

  • A glass of wine — or several — after work
  • Just you, a movie, and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream
  • Long hours of overtime at work to avoid going home
  • Shopping sprees or partying

Just like all of our parts, the distractors are only trying to help when they bring us comfort and pleasure. Our distractors let us relax and enjoy by removing us from our conflicts and frustrations. Unfortunately, these parts can throw your entire system off balance.

When a distractor becomes an addiction

When our distractors get extreme, they become habits. Then, from habits, they can blossom into full on addictions. A habit becomes an addiction when it causes problems with your daily life, your health, and your relationship with yourself and others.

A friend of mine quit smoking after many years. People often asked him that age old question: “How did you do it? How did you quit?”

His answer: “I had a lot of practice.”

Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy — but with the Three P’s, it doesn’t have to be so hard. What are the Three P’s?

  1. Persistence. You will continue to move forward
  2. Patience with yourself. My friend quit smoking many, many times before he stopped for good. He didn’t berate himself, and he learned from his missteps.
  3. Presence with your reality. You might feel tempted to “check out,” but I urge you to do what it takes to stay present.

You can get unstuck from this behavior that has the strength of an addiction. Let’s talk about how.

Addiction is not a crime. The real crime occurs when we ignore our Selves and move away from our pain, rather than moving towards it with curiosity and love. Get the support you need, both from your Self and from others around you.

Image Credit

Swathish and Arndt Save Gege from Quicksand” by Flickr user Preston Rhea, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.