Have you ever found yourself in an unhealthy relationship with something or someone? Often it happens like this: You discover something new that gives you a sense of peace or adventure or happiness you haven’t had in a long time. Or maybe it’s an escape. You find yourself adding it to your schedule more and more, even prioritizing it over anything else. Then you make a choice that scares you a little – you choose it over the thing that once was a top priority. The alarm bell goes off in your head. Am I addicted to this? You tell yourself “no, I could stop at any time.” But you still wonder.
I will be 100% transparent. There are many times in my life I’ve found myself questioning a possible addiction to a substance or a person. Most people think of substances like alcohol, drugs, tobacco or an activity like gambling when it comes to addiction. But I believe most of us have minor addictions. In fact, I believe it’s part of being human and these addictions temporarily serve us. They become damaging when we stay stuck in them, believing that the substance is the only form of relief, instead of growing beyond them.
My earliest memory of an addictive behavior was a friendship I made in 6th grade with the “new” girl. The friendship was so refreshing and it progressed really quickly to the point that I have clear memories of “needing” it and making poor choices that hurt other people because of the priority I placed on it. More recently, I found myself in this type of relationship with reality television. Reality TV may sound like a benign addiction and I am the first to admit to it, but it served me temporarily. It was one of the most difficult years of my life. Reality TV was my escape. It was the brief hour in my day that the pain and heartbreak subsided because my focus was on something other than the nightmare playing out in front of me.
I learned a lot that year. One of the things I learned is that addiction isn’t a bad thing unless you stay stuck in it by giving all your power to the substance or vehicle. This article is not about me condemning addiction. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s to educate you about addiction and how to use it to serve you, because odds are, you will experience some form addiction in your life if you aren’t experiencing it right now. And to be clear, it will show up in your travel business. Some of the addictions I see for travel business owners are:
- Procrastination (like Facebook)
- Education – attending every single specialist course you can find
- Giving of your time
Addiction occurs when the addictive substance (which can be a person) mutes the thoughts that prevent you from feeling your natural state of happiness, peace and joy. Did you know that your natural state is pure, non-resistant joy? The only reason why we don’t feel this way every second of the day is because we choose thoughts that introduce resistance.
Consider this analogy. The beach ball in the swimming pool will float at the top of the surface unless you pull it under the water with force (resistance). The moment you let go (release the resistance), the beach ball will pop up to the top of the surface. Our natural emotional state is like that. We are born that way. And when we let go of all resistant thoughts, we naturally feel happiness, joy, peace, etc. We don’t have to effort our way to that emotion. It’s pure and natural and part of our DNA.
But through life experience, we put our attention on things in our life that are unpleasing. This focus generates thoughts that carry resistance. When we keep thinking those same thoughts (full of resistance), we develop a belief. Once a belief is established, the negative thought stream becomes dominant. So we go through life with a dominant thought stream that is carrying lots of resistance. And because the thought stream is dominant and our point of focus, we keep creating the same reality. The unpleasant condition keeps showing up, like a self fulfilling prophecy.
The longer the condition persists, the more resistance you accumulate in your thoughts. Resistance doesn’t feel good in our bodies. Sometimes it shows up physically. It gets to the point where you are desperate for some form of relief. And then you stumble upon something that mutes those resistant, icky-feeling thoughts. When those thoughts get muted, your natural state pops to the surface…like the beach ball that was being held under water and is released. It might be a new opportunity to travel. It might be a form of procrastination like reading the feed on Facebook. It might be a new marketing vehicle and you are able to throw yourself into it. It might be a new reality TV show :). Whatever it is, the relief feels so good that you develop an unhealthy relationship with the vehicle that helped you mute those thoughts.
The positive side of addiction is that it facilitates the releasing of resistant thoughts. It gives you the opportunity to experience the relief of releasing resistant thoughts. But many times, you don’t realize the relief is coming from this. Instead you think the relief is coming from the vehicle itself, and not the release of the resistance. When you believe the relief comes from the vehicle (like travel or reality TV) you become dependent upon the vehicle. Eventually, you become a slave to it. It takes your power away.
The good news is that it’s never to late to discover that the relief is coming from the release of your resistance, NOT the vehicle that’s facilitating the muting of the thoughts. You always have the ability to release the resistance with or without the vehicle. When you discover your own power to release resistant thoughts, your life will become very sweet. It will transform before your very own eyes.
How do you release the resistant thoughts? By choosing different thoughts. It really is that simple. The moment you recognize you are feeling an emotion that is not aligned with your natural state of joy, happiness, peace, etc, it’s your check point for finding a different thought or point of focus. The negative emotion is a good thing! It’s like your warning signal that you are off track and it’s time to think something that feels good, not bad. Even if the conditions around you are completely unpleasant. You still have the ability to think a thought that generates a positive emotion. When you make a practice of doing this moment by moment, day by day, week by week, month by month, your life and the world around you will transform to match the emotional vibe you put out.
If you find yourself in an addictive relationship with a substance or someone, there is no need to beat yourself up. It’s part of the human experience and it showed up to serve you. It’s an opportunity to experience the muting of resistant thoughts. Its your opportunity to understand that you have the ability within you to release those resistant thoughts with or without that vehicle (addictive substance). With focus and patience, your addiction will be replaced with emotional fitness.