Transforming Addiction into Opportunity
Food and alcohol cravings, bad relationships, gambling, gaming, workaholism, obsession with exercise or appearance, hallucinogens, spiritual experiences, information addiction, multiple tattoos, perfectionism, social media and dating app addictions all have one and the same cause. Keep reading to learn how to address that cause in this blog.
Last week, we talked about how our dissatisfaction, our constant desire for more of our perceived needs as the root cause of the global crisis. We know that the Default Mode Network, associated with the concept of ”me”, is what creates our dissatisfaction and our destructive habits. Why is it so difficult to change our habits? How does dissatisfaction turn into an addiction?
Why do we always seem to crave more?
When it would serve us and the planet better to find a way to live with enough, which could lead to making better, wiser choices. Everyone knows that everything is better in moderation. Well, why can’t we moderate?
Every industry from food to fashion, gambling, and gaming to social media and dating apps exploits a conditioned prehistoric behavioral loop to make us crave something that we don’t really need, but think we do (a.k.a. perceived need).
We are addiction-prone due to an ancient survival skill that gave us the advantage over apes, millions of years ago, during a period when food was scarce. We developed long legs and large feet to be able to go long distances in search of food. In order to keep us motivated to continue going further despite fatigue and hunger, our bodies produced dopamine and endorphins when our brain perceived the possibility of reward: an opportunity. We had no idea where the food would be found, so the brain increased the dose of internal drugs to keep us repeating the action of walking even more when the reward was unpredictable.
We see this phenomenon today in the people who walk from South America all the way to the US or even Canadian border motivated by the unpredictable reward of finding a better, safer place to live.
In his recent book, “Scarcity Brain: Fix Your Craving Mindset and Rewire Your Habits to Thrive with Enough,” Michael Easter suggests a three-part behavior loop that evolved naturally, and now is hard wired in our brains: opportunity, unpredictable rewards, and quick repeatability of action.
We are hardwired to become addicted
Modern slot machines possess all three parts of the loop: the possibilities to win money, which represents all the opportunities we associate with it, a repeatable action (pushing the button) and unpredictability. Research has shown that the greatest amount of endorphins are produced while the images are spinning in the windows. We are held in total suspense, attention focussed, heart pumping, endorphins rising while we wait for the outcome. The amount of endorphins produced is not related to how much money we actually receive, but is related to the unpredictability of getting even a small reward, and the possibility of a big reward. Small rewards at unpredictable moments are what keep us trying, and get us addicted.
Like sticking with bad relationships: you get into a relationship with someone who is fascinating, charming, sexy, fun and attentive. But, if then gradually the person becomes more disagreeable, even abusive but still shows you the good side now and then, you will live for those increasingly rare moments when you are getting all that wonderful reinforcement: fascinating, charming, sexy, and fun attentiveness. It leads us to stick around too long thanks to the power of unpredictable rewards.
Our brain is always scanning the environment for what might be MORE – more comfort, more attention, more food, anything scarce or precious to fill our perceived needs. The brain scans for influence, rank, status, popularity, attention and affection. Is someone getting more of something than I am or more than someone else? This feeds our dissatisfaction by focusing on what we don’t have in comparison to our peers. This is the reason why so many rich people consider themselves poor.
The same process applies to perfectionism, obsessive exercising and over-working: are you terrified of failing or looking bad to the point where you obsess about what can make you look good?
But what, exactly, are we addicted to?
We are not really addicted to that slot machine, drug, money, food or person. We are addicted to the SENSATION created by the scarcity loop when we perceive something as having the possibility of fulfilling a perceived need.
What we discovered at MICH is that we each experience sensations unique to us, despite the universality of the loop. When we can clearly identify the sensations, we have uncovered our internal “hook”. MICH homeopaths are trained to match the unique set of sensations with a homeopathic remedy. Taking the remedy satisfies the perceived need.
But to really transform the addiction into the opportunity that it holds, further inquiry is required to uncover the true need – the soul’s longing. Addiction means that there is a deep desire to explore, take new risks and make a change in the way we live, what we are doing and where we are putting our energy. It is time to change our lives.
Transforming Addiction into Opportunity
The bad news is that we cannot change a program that has been hard wired over millions of years. The good news is that we can redirect that program towards addressing real needs, and finding greater meaning in life. The homeopathic remedy provides enough respite from the sensation to allow for objectivity and the possibility of redirecting the program towards the soul’s longing. Something has to change.
The kind of change that results in improving our lives requires enduring the short term discomfort of unhooking from the sensations of the addiction by redirecting the loop and creating new habits that will bring long-term, worthwhile, and meaningful achievements.
Change takes effort. And here we meet another conditioned obstacle. Another survival mechanism we inherited from our ancestors is a tendency to avoid discomfort, and do the easiest thing, over and over, even if it is not the best option.
Addictions are the invitation to exercise our drive to break new ground and explore the unknown. Inquiry, such as Noumedynamic Inquiry, leads to inner wisdom, and a deeper understanding of what will bring greater meaning to your life.
In order to transform an addiction, we need to challenge our body and mind and discover new ways of going into the unknown and taking risks, but it is even more important to meet our soul’s challenge. Being willing to go into the soul’s silence summons the will to live and makes life worth living.
Find out more on how to put the scarcity loop and our addictive tendencies to good use in next week’s blog.
- The Noumedynamic Method of inquiry helps you unpack conditioning, and uncover your true nature by exploring the energetic dimensions of your being that lie beyond your thoughts and emotions. Visit our Ego Alchemy site or check out our list of practitioners.
- “Scarcity Brain: Fix Your Craving Mindset and Rewire Your Habits to Thrive with Enough,” and The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort To Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self. Both books by Micheal Easter.
- To discover more about our evolution and ancestors such as Homo Neledi, watch the documentary: Unknown Cave of Bones.
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