December 12, 2021

Stress is an addiction

In my last post, I ended with a question… Why would anyone shape their lives around pursuing something that would never be “enough?”

Well, it’s a long story…

Every one of us starts life with a fairly simple agenda – we want to live.

When we’re born, life pretty much reduces down to eat, sleep, and – uh – fill our diapers.

As life progresses, we start filling the spaces between those three essentials with experiencing the world around us. Voices, sounds, touches, smells, and so forth all become triggers. Not for thought, initially. They are triggers for emotion.

Because that’s how the brain works. We feel, THEN think.

We are not organic computers that rapidly process thought and then produce emotion. We are emotional beings that use thought to process what we are already feeling – and want to feel.

So why the breakdown of childhood psychology? Because it defined how our brains operate today.

You see, somewhere between dirty diapers and high school graduation, we developed some deep-rooted beliefs in what it takes to feel our best. And they weren’t exactly rooted in reality. They were rooted in perception.

Instead of recognizing that the people around us had issues (and maybe even needed some therapy themselves), we just knew that some of those people made us feel “bad.” And when we felt badly, we reacted. At first, we tried to understand why we felt badly. But at 5 years old, most of us had no clue about what was really going on. And we used 5-year-old logic to process some pretty mature themes. Hence the injection of what we perceived to be reality.

So, we landed on feeling either shame (it must be my fault) or blame (it has to be their fault).

But then we did something extra.

We added a layer of “I don’t want to feel this way again.” And for most of us, that layer was built with the bricks of success, significance, and/or control.

Brick upon brick, layer upon layer, we added complexity to how we feel/think. The kind of complexity that eventually becomes a brick wall. Or better said, an addiction.

An addiction to success/significance/control to avoid the feelings of shame and blame.

So, why would anyone shape their lives around pursuing something that would never be “enough?” We’re addicted to behaviors that will never satisfy our souls. And the greater the addiction, the greater we get stressed about it.

To be fair, not all of us are addicts. But we are all surrounded by them. We all have that family member, neighbor, co-worker, spouse… the list goes on and on. And if we can’t understand the addiction, we will never understand the cure.

Then again, we may be the patient with the greatest need.

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Published by timohai

Father, widower, leader, sales enablement pro at Workday. *These are my personal views and do not officially represent Workday.

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