It can be very easy to point fingers at people who are obviously destroying their lives. It can also be very easy to fool ourselves into thinking that addiction has never touched our own lives, whilst actually, the mindset of addiction fuels activities of all stripes and colours.
What about addictions that aren’t so obvious? Or when we are addicted but the repercussions haven’t yet hit our lives like the proverbial manure on the rapidly rotating blades? Or the ones that are embedded in our very cultures, in the Western world, notably work, food, work, television, work, electronic devices, and work? The fact is, addictive thinking threads through our societies, our cultures, and our religions.
In some ways, it doesn’t matter what form the addiction takes. Addictions inevitably indicate a bleakly impoverished spiritual and emotional life. Poverty isn’t necessarily financial. And despite the plethora of choice for addictive substances or activities, all addictions have common elements.
Addiction can take almost any form. It could be spending, or not spending. It could be throwing things away, or hoarding them. It could be having sex, or compulsively avoiding it. It could be working, or compulsively avoiding working. It could be socialising, or not socialising. Some people go through boyfriends or girlfriends the way others get through cigarettes.
There is nothing inherent in any activity that makes it safe from an addictive compulsion to engage in it or obsessively avoid it. Even meditation as an activity can be an addiction. Going to self-development courses, going to therapy, eating or not eating, working, shopping, social media – all these can be an addiction. Being worried. Getting excited. Any feeling. Any sport. Getting to the end of your emails. Anything, just about, can be turned into an addiction.
And no matter how much time or money or space is given over to the addiction, it can just never do the job that you are asking it to do – to feel less bad, OK, or even great, even if only for the momentary duration of the high.