I’ve been noticing something more and more online. At first it seemed fairly innocuous, but then it started to make me feel concerned. Right now it seems very “on trend”(whatever that might mean…) for people to use phrases like “I’m so obsessed with…right now”, or “I am completely addicted to…, I use it all the time.” And while you might strongly enjoy using these products/foods/activities, it is really dangerous to flippantly use self-descriptive phrases like this. (And be “really” I mean “there are legitimate psychological repercussions attached to it.”) The things that you say have an impact, whether or not you realize it. And when you say things about yourself, your brain hears you say. Whether or not you were saying things “jokingly” or not; it believes what you say about yourself. For example, if you persistently tell yourself that you can’t do something (it doesn’t matter whether it’s getting out of bed in the morning or choosing a major), you won’t do it. It becomes inconsequential whether or not you could have physically accomplished the task. You have essentially chosen to remove the opportunity to attempt it by declaring the outcome prior to the attempt.
I don’t keep any “peeves” as pets(it is never good to cherish anything like that). This trend has started to make me feel downright uncomfortable. (If you want an example of the self-talk I’m describing, just make a short trip over to YouTube, and watch any beauty/fitness/lifestyle/vlog videos..it’s pervasive). It is never “popular” to say that you are “addicted” to something. Let’s be specific. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as:
“…a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”(1)
Don’t invite that into your life. No, you’re not “addicted to” a particular lipstick brand. You like it. You enjoy it. You would recommend it to a friend. But no item/person/#life should be given any sort of position of mastery in your life. It doesn’t belong there. And whether or not you think you’ve given it that spot, think back on how you talk about it. If someone asked you to forego your morning coffee, how much of a struggle would it be? (Did you just immediately say something like “Oh, I could never give that up.” or “Oh, I need that to start my day.”?)
(tiny little red flag should be going up if you did).
But don’t despair. If something has just stood out to you as something that you’ve started to let sway the decisions in your life; that is the best step already taken! Just because it feels hard to cut down or remove something, does not mean it’s not possible and doable. (It will mean working at it, but work is not impossible).
Addictions and mental health are serious concerns for a lot of people. It takes lots of resources, work and help to break out of them.
Moral of the blog today: Say what you mean. Be cautious about what you say about yourself and others (is it true, useful and edifying?). Speak the Truth in Love.
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