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Addiction & Mind


Posted by: Michael

Reading time: 3 minutes

The “all or nothing” mindset is a very common way that addicts explain and understand life. They “have always been this way”, or “things never work out”. This way of perceiving the world makes it very easy to fixate or obsess about one small detail in a much larger picture, because there isn’t much thinking required. Addicts use labels to define themselves, and other people, places, and things, as “always this” and “never that”. Such a mindset is an under-developed and dysfunctional way of thinking, and when you get sober, you evolve into newer, better ways.

“All or nothing” is dysfunctional because some feelings are labelled “good”, and you may decide that things should always be this way. You may chase after that high constantly, every day, no matter what. “All or nothing” is under-developed because pain and discomfort are labelled as “bad”. These things should not be happening to you, and so you will avoid or ignore discomfort instead of learning something about yourself. Why is such a thing causing pain in the first place? You will never know if you keep running away and hiding.

It makes sense to want to have more peak experiences, and avoid more pit experiences. But these extreme high and low moments may only make up 1 or 2 percent of the entire moments of your life. Labelling moments as “peaks” and “pits” will have you thinking that only 1% of the moments in your life have any value, and the other 99% is just waiting around.

Of all the thousands of thoughts that cross your mind every day, there is no single idea that defines who you are or explains the world. Of all the feelings that cross your heart, there is no one sensation that “must always be” or “can never be”. There is no one thought, feeling, moment, or label that can describe you. They come and go. They rise and fall. The old ways grip on, resisting. The new way allows, noticing.

Addiction has an endless list of labels, and every one of them can become a reason for using. It can be anything: addict, junkie, druggie, drunk, pothead, meth-head, crack-head, coke-head, sex fiend, pervert, 12-stepper, brother, sister, mom, dad, wife, husband. An addict can spin any one of these labels into “and you know what, screw it, I’m getting high.” Breaking out of addiction means breaking out of labels, out of “all or nothing”, out of obsession. It means expanding your view of yourself, others, and the world. When there is no single detail in the picture that matters more than all the other details, you can see more of the whole picture.

Michael is the Lead Sobriety Coach and Head Blogger of Addiction Reality.