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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Rader, LAc, MS


So don't use it as an excuse to not change a habit.

Sorry to be harsh, but when folks say they have  "addictive personalities" it is really a way for them to hide under the covers and pretend that they are unable to change a habit that doesn't serve them anymore. The addiction treatment industry has allowed the definition of the  word "addiction" to take on broader and more universal meaning than from the days when it was restricted to the realm of chemical dependency.

Addiction today is used to refer to everything from facebook  to heroin. Clearly, a facebook habit is not the same as an addiction to heroin. Crystal meth addiction and food addiction? Please.  We need to lose the word "addiction" when we are talking about habitual behaviors that do not involve the intake of non nourishing substances. 

Food is something that humans, over our entire evolutionary history, have been hardwired to go for. Never before in human history have we had to consciously deny ourselves food that was in front of us that wasn't rotten, rancid or otherwise inedible. Food was always scarce and we never had a reason to reject it. Since  the mid 20th century, in the industrialized world, cheap calories and synthetic foods have become abundant. We are now faced with the unique moment in human evolution where we have to use our frontal lobe to say "No", when our reptilian brain is saying, "let's eat!"

Gambling, texting, shopping, surfing the web, entertainment in general, have all become pastimes that, if taken to certain points may lead to compulsiveness that no longer serve us. These are habits. Habits are behaviors that we repeat enough so that they become automatic. We can do them unconsciously.

Habits are generally useful and necessary for survival. Walking, driving, and  hygiene, serve us. It would not be useful or safe to need to think about how we start the car and back out of the driveway every time we get into the drivers seat.  

So, yes, we are "creatures of habit" and it is a damned good thing. It is a modern problem that we have learned to acquire habits that don't serve us- usually around modern technologies and behaviors that could not have been possible before the last 200 years. Our technological prowess has exceeded our  capacity to use such technologies wisely. Imagine a four year old with an automatic weapon.

Let's recognize that we naturally form habits when we associate pleasure around a certain behavior. The next step is to realize that sometimes the pleasure may not necessarily lead to a positive outcome if we let it get away from us. In the natural environment from which we came, we evolved to receive signals from our senses that let us know the difference between what would harm us and what would nourish us. Food tastes and smells  good. Poison tastes and smells bad. The opportunity to find something that would fool us into feeling good when in fact we were being harmed was quite rare if basically non-existant. Today, life isn't that simple.

The message here is that we do have frontal lobes and we can use them to override and recreate new behaviors and habits that can work for us. If you are struggling with a habit that you would like to change there are new and powerful strategies and methods based on merging recent neurobiological discoveries with ancient wisdom traditions. 

Get relief now and take action by calling 415-488-0201 for a free phone consult.

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