Now, this can be associated with any type of sobriety; drinking too much, over working, over exercising, under or over eating / food restrictions or obsessions, gambling, sex / porn, drugs, shopping, technology, etc. – believe me, we can ALL get addicted to SOMETHING.
These can be some pretty heavy topics for most people, so I want to acknowledge that before we get started. Recognizing where you are at is the first step so that we know what the next step will look like. However, lately I have seen the pull towards living a more mindful and sober life which I find so beautiful how conscious the collective is becoming!
We ALL know how to over indulge. Likewise, we all have something that helps to take the “pain” away; we are indeed, a society that likes to numb. The key is not to “judge those” that “sin differently” than you and simply lean more into ourselves at what those judgements, labels or feelings are reflecting back onto us. When we are busy working and bettering ourselves, we do not have time to compare or examine another’s life- and it is also not our job to. The only thing we can control is ourself and simply support others on their journey.
Now, numbing and overindulging isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing- we are only human– and sometimes distracting the mind can be useful (in certain situations..) but regular numbing & overindulging is a red flag and is important to notice any unhealthy habits or cycles before they do long-term damage. This is why understanding more about our biochemical make-up can be so beneficial as it could help to prevent us from running to the next thing that may help to momentarily take our pain away- and that includes even some spiritual or health practices, too.
The main purpose of this article and todays Wellness Wednesday is this: What is the root cause of my numbing? Are my habits currently helping or hindering? In what ways can I pivot or be more mindful and aware in my own life?
I first started studying and learning more on emotions, addictions & disease in 2016 when I attended the Discovery Program at Cedars Rehabilitation Centre. I was currently supporting my partner through rehab and my hope was to understand how addictions, emotions & disease manifest in the body in order to understand how to build healthier relationships first with myself, then others in a supportive, non-codependant way.
“The Discovery Program delivers a therapeutic experience and psychoeducational programs inviting participants to explore topics such as connection, communication skills, self-acceptance, and support. These discussions stimulate ways for people to express and manage their feelings, move beyond resentment, and rebuild trust. In the process of bypassing unhealthy behaviours, participants will establish a foundation on how to rebuild healthy relationships, allowing them to move towards integrity and fulfillment for both themselves and their families.”
(Which PS I HIGHLY recommend that program if you are financially able to afford it. It was absolutely incredible and I found it incredibly valuable.)
This could be a very LARGE article however, I want to keep this simple and too the point, with digestible information that may help those of you who are struggling with addiction / disease or may be supporting someone through addiction / disease. Nonetheless, I believe this information is important for everyone to understand so that we all can learn a bit more on how these diseases begin in the first place. I believe that if we all can get more to the root cause of our emotions & feelings to understand what fuels our habits and lifestyle choices, we can all be more empathetic, compassionate human beings to ourselves and others. ♥️
Lately, I’ve loooved talking about emotions! Why? Because I feel as though we have lost touch with what are true emotions, what are symptoms and what are red flags / warning signs from our body.
Anxiety is the perfect example. A lot of us “feel” anxious but did you know that Anxiety is not a feeling? Nope! Anxiety is the nervous system perceiving a threat, so it is shifting into a fight-flight-fawn response by shutting down other “unnecessary” systems so that it can eliminate the threat.
Generally, Anxiety is actually fuelled by a multitude of emotions, depending on what type of anxiety you are experiencing. This could be a combination of Fear + Sadness or Fear + Anger or Surprise + Disgust. There could be a large combination of emotions that fuel the anxiety, which is why getting to the root cause of our emotions / symptoms / feelings is SO essential in understanding how to heal and work through them.
So what are emotions? Dr. Paul Ekman, a psychologist at the University of California, identifies six basic emotions based on facial expressions and physical movements. He calls these elements anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise.
Another psychologist, Dr. Robert Plutchick, adds an additional two states to his ‘Wheel of Emotions’ — trust and anticipation — for a total of eight basic emotions. He pairs these emotions together to get four sets of opposites – joy/sadness, surprise/anticipation, trust/disgust, and anger/fear.
Feelings are the conscious experience of emotional reactions. Emotions come first, then feelings come after as the emotional chemical reactions occur which will then develop your mood. There are a lot of factors that effect our emotions, feelings and moods but today we’re just looking at the basic emotions and what may fuel them.
As you can see, emotions are somewhat subjective and debatable as we all perceive thoughts, feelings and emotions unique to our chemical makeup. In my studies, it can be hard to determine the simplicity of some emotions! However, these are the main emotions that fuel our feelings:
The ones that I have starred in my opinion can be classified under the other basic emotions such as Fear, Anger or Surprise – but that is just my personal opinion 🙂
Naturally, under each word you can use different words to describe the emotion and context more clearly. Example: some words to describe happiness could be happy, joyful, satisfied, fortunate, content, cheerful, merry, lucky, jolly, delighted, smiling, sunny, cheery, joking, grinning, thrilled, chuffed, excited, friendly, loving, fantastic.
When we understand the root cause of our EMOTIONS we can understand the root cause of our numbing / addictions and potentially even disease.
Addictions are a chronic disease that affects the left frontal cortex (impulse control). This means that they usually start off acute and with symptoms before they manifest into a chronic disease.
This is first paragraph is important to note because if caught and addressed early enough, I believe that certain chronic diseases such as addictions could be prevented or avoided.
However, what about the “Addictive Personality” theory? Based on the information that I have read and been taught, addictive personalities don’t actually exist- they develop. So any of us can become addictive or cultivate an addictive personality HOWEVER some of us may have a higher risk factor to a disease / disorder depending on what we are predisposed to.
Example: some Risk factors to be aware of are:
- Genetics (this plays about 60 – 70% role in addictions)
- Trauma (or ACE score)
If someone hits more marks on the risk factor, it is a good idea to self-assess what lifestyle choices or still healthy. Understanding that an addictive personality can develop we can start to look at our emotions, symptoms and habits in a new light. Something that may seem “harmless” for now, might not be “harmless” long term so it is important to continually audit your life to see what is still serving and what may be hindering.
When a chronic disease such as addiction has taken place, it is not longer possible to reverse and it is now something that you will need to manage and work with for the rest of your life. The saddest part with Addiction is with the impulse control being heavily affected, the the Emotional Need for the Substance overrides the Emotional Need for Self. And yes, this goes for ALL disease (ex: gluten sensitivities can turn into tolerance or celiac disease).
This is a great reflection tool to analyze what we regularly crave or perhaps are allergic to. Our bodies are very instinctual and smart- they know what is healthy for us and what isn’t. Usually, items that we are REALLY addicted to (ex: sugar, wheat, alcohol) or REALLY turned off of (certain smells, tastes, textures), are items that may be harmful or allergic to our body. Listen to what your body has to say! Sometimes it is speaking to you in the most simplest of ways.
As mentioned above, anything can manifest into a disease. When we recognize and are aware of this, we start to treat everything more sacredly and with much more intention and scarcity.
Diseases will usually start as a warning sign (acute symptom, allergic reaction, thought, feeling etc.) and if not addressed, validated or released in a fluid way, then these energies / warning signs can become silenced or stagnant in our body and eventually manifest into a chronic disease or illness.
The nervous system is a beautiful example. It is so smart, adaptive and aware its surroundings- naturally! That is what it is designed and intended to do; to read it’s environment, pick up on subtle energies and help our body stay in homeostasis or fight if necessary. It’s main purpose and function is to keep you safe, ALIVE, healthy and sane! This is actually why our body will do naturally movements such as shaking, tapping, twitching, etc. in order to release stagnant energy in the body.
So when it is talking to us, we need to listen! But what if we don’t know how to listen or we have silenced it for so long that we no longer get warning signs?
This is where meditation, somatics, self-inquiry, self-care, journaling, movement, dance, therapy, community / connection, water, nature and different energetic healing / release can be so incredibly therapeutic and essential in getting back to the root cause of your discomfort.
Nobody wants to live in discomfort. Nobody wants disease to manifest. And nobody wants to see their loved ones suffer in discomfort or disease.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out or check out these free resources on my website- it is NEVER too late to start living a more mindful, sober life:
Or work with me 1-1 to stay accountable and get support throughout all of your seasons:
Heidi MacAulay, R.H.N.
“Eat more plants. Do more yoga. Read more books.”
Learn more about me, my credentials or how to work with me here!