Dynamics of Addiction to Work and Food
Part 1 of a Series on the Spirituality of Addiction
*These are my thoughts, my opinions and many of these come from personal experience with addiction, you might not agree with everything written, and that is okay. I may even be harsh when talking about addiction. That comes from seeing it destroy the lives of those close to me, and even coming close to surrendering parts of myself in dealing with my own addictions. All insights, comments, and sharing is welcomed. It is through discussion that we grow.– Mike”
When you hear or read the word “addict” What is the first image or thought that pops into your mind? Is it of a junkie sitting in an alley shooting up heroin? Is it of an alcoholic unable to control their drinking. Addiction is much more that these images, but these are the images that are most often given to us by media. These images are more extreme versions of what addiction really is. Addiction is the surrender of power to an external source. Many of us move through life without ever really knowing where we are surrendering our sense of control. Loss of power can come through a variety of forms and channels. Drug and alcohol abuse is just one facet of control loss. These can be the most
deadly, so they get more attention as it is important to move the person afflicted with addiction beyond that control sooner than later. For the purpose of this blog I want to focus on two other areas that I have had personal experience with: overwork and food. Within any area of addiction there are also emotions that we also become addicted to. We begin to lock ourselves into dangerous patters that do not let us fully live in our experience.
Overworking ourselves to death is not something you will hear played up in any media outlet, and you wont be seeing it anytime soon on A&E’s show “Intervention”, but many of us will take on more than we can chew, and this can in fact have un healthy repercussions in our lives. Stress is a big killer. Stress can cause high blood pressure, stroke, and in leads into a variety of other unhealthy habits (including other addictions). A lot of people consider certain drugs to be gateways into addictive experiences, but our lifestyle choices can also play a big part in this. After a long day at work, many will head out to
“happy hour” to unwind with friends and a drink (or many drinks depending on the severity of the work week). These are just quick ways to alleviate stress, and at times there is a sense of “peer pressure” to attend functions if they are work related–“I had to go, everyone else in the department was going”. Even the word “happy hour” carries with it a particular weight, it becomes an affirmation as to what is expected from the experience of drinking cheap drinks as a stress relief.
We can become addicted to emotions, sensations and overworking is a way of filling a void that might be present. It allows us to ignore other things that might be going on in our lives. We begin to reach out for substances that will fill the void, or give us cause to turn away from what is most needed. We can even create “victim dynamics” which allow us to use our addiction to justify situations. “The reason s/he left me was because they do not understand or appreciate the work that I do, or the hours that I have to put in, etc.” These kinds of statements deflect personal responsibility for connecting into a place of growth within the relationship or other things that are avoided/ignored/or put off because work becomes that “thing” that fills every corner of our lives. We have to balance our lives fully and create positive outlets of connection to the world around us. Our lives are not just defined by work or community achievements, they are defined by how we treat those closest to us. We have to allow others into this space, we have to create the balance that will allow for interpersonal growth. We have to look around us and see where we need
to show up in our lives fully beyond work. If you are overworking or using work to avoid situations in your personal life, you have to ask yourself the underlying reasons for this deflection? Is there fear in stepping into your life fully? Is there fear in connecting fully to a loved one? Are you more comfortable as a victim than a participant? Asking these questions through a meditation might give you some guidance on what/who and why you
may be playing into avoidance.
Food addiction is another area that gets a little more focus than work addiction, but it can be even more deadly as it has direct impact on our physical bodies. Most people assume that illness such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes are primarily genetic. These illnesses have a greater chance of forming due to our dietary choices, so it is our eating habits that tend to be passed down from generation to generation. As we grow up we build a relationship with food, and there are extremes within that dynamic. Some of us learn to reach out to food to fill a void, others learn to restrict food choices as a place to regain control. Food can bring pleasure and pain, health or sickness, well-being or distress. We have to begin to define our relationship to food in a healthier vibration. When we are reaching out to fill a void we eat more than we need to. In turn we attract guilt, resentment, and the underlying thing creating the void remains present. It doesn’t just disappear because we decided to eat the entire bag of chips. Certain foods can also excite addictions within us. Sugar, caffeine, chocolate, fats all have properties that can affect certain areas of the brain that are also associated with other chemical dependency. I wont discuss all of the dynamics in this post. Think about this, have you ever said “I can’t live without… cheese, chocolate, cupcakes, etc…” that is an affirmation of an addiction. Many will
argue that this is said jokingly, but others will agree that if they are forced to give up their morning coffee they would suffer throughout the day. We create an energetic dynamic and connection to the things we put into our bodies. We have to take accountability for our health. When we eat because someone made us angry/upset/sad we are giving power over to someone who is more than likely NOT spending and equal amount of time in the same space. Not only are you giving away personal power you are reaching causing self harm by
filling that emotion with food. I am not saying that having a cupcake or a candy bar is bad, it is what we attach to that food item that becomes the crutch of the addiction. Cupcakes take on the role as saviour vs a delicious treat to enjoy after dinner or on special occasions. This is also giving away power, we become a victim, and many give up. Food addiction requires us to wake up to different choices that allow us to build a positive connection to ourselves and what we attach to food. Affirmations are powerful ways to grow out of a food addiction. Reaching out for healthier choices, allow ourselves the occasional treat and overall taking care of the body gives us greater sense of connection to the physical self. This brings the spiritual and physical self into greater alignment.
I’ll be going into this deeper in future posts, and I don’t want to make it sound like it is as easy as saying one affirmation to change the food relationship dynamic. It takes a while to go into an addiction and it will take time to step out of one.
Each day we are given opportunities to grow, to be part of this experience and to live this life fully. Understanding where you are allows you the freedom to grow, and it give you the tools to detach from into greater states of being. Take a look at where you currently are and breathe your life in.
Mahayogi Das CFT CSN MAT PAT