“I don’t like feeling bad, I want to feel good. And I always feel good when I am eating. So let’s go eat some ice cream and a bag of chips.”
Yours may sound a bit different but I’m sure a variation of the thought above may have crossed your mind in some point or you may have even said it out loud.
Behavioural addictions can look vastly different (just think of gambling and eating for example) but the similarities are many.
Consider the chemicals our brain releases that cause us to feel pleasure when we do a pleasurable activity.
If you think about it for a second it’s not much different than a pet being rewarded for doing an activity when it’s being trained.
We are training our brains to expect and rely on feeling pleasure when we do our behavior of choice, whether it’s video-gaming, pornography, eating or shopping.
If you are having a difficult moment at work, home or with your in-laws your brain will repeat a variation of the sentence above without you even noticing: “I don’t like feeling bad, I want to feel good”.
It’s fascinating to me that our bodies are designed to regulate back to feeling safe and content.
Now imagine being in a perpetual state of stress, feeling unsafe or overwhelmed?
Your body will continually point you back to things that bring to you safety and pleasure, whether they are healthy for you or not.
What a cycle, huh?
And a vicious one, I’d say.
We are drawn to the behaviour to feel good, but the action then leads us to shame, guilt or negative feedback from those closest to us.
This in turn, makes us feel bad and there the cycle continues.
Time to break these cycles.
Last week we focused on 5 ways to know if you’re addicted to your phone <<click here to read more>>.
This week we are taking a look at 5 ways to overcome your phone addiction.
If you find yourself trapped in the cycle of addiction and your relationships and work are suffering, it’s strongly recommended that you speak to a counsellor and/or your family doctor.
If you are like me and are noticing that your phone use has increased and can get out of control during high-stress times read on and see 5 tips to overcoming this addiction.
1. Take a closer look
Begin by noticing how much you use and when you use it. This can be done by journaling or even leveraging technology itself (ironic, don’t you think?). Some phone applications are able to track your phone usage. It can be shocking to see how much you actually use. All those times waiting in line, avoiding eye contact in public places and laying in bed add up to hours. Not that I would know, ahem… Sometimes all it takes is knowing how much technology you actually use to shock you into changing your habits.
2. Set external controls
Parental controls isn’t just for kids. Find the closest person under 25 and they will be able to show you in your phone how to set limits to phone use or even wifi use. This allows you to set a time limit on your apps. I love this because I’m able to specify what apps are available when, for example Facebook is locked out at 8 pm, where the news app is available until 10 pm.
It’s awful but it works. Talk to someone about wanting to change your phone habits. Set parameters about how and when you want/need to use your phone. Agree on a neutral code name that they will use as a signal to you when your phone use is outside of the agreed-upon parameters.
4. Buy a watch
Buy more technology to overcome technology? Sounds counter-intuitive, but this was what worked for me. My biggest issue with having my phone with me 24/7 was fear that I would miss an important phone call or emergency from my kids’ school. And because my phone was so available it quickly turned into a convenient way to tune out the world around me. I purchased a watch that synced to my phone. That allowed me to see texts and phone calls as they came in. I was able to turn my ringer off, leave it in a different room and the temptation to scroll social media or play a game dramatically decreased. I was able to see and respond to texts and calls, but the distraction of social media was further away and less strong.
5. Take a technology vacation.
Taking a vacation away from all technology is nearly impossible these days. However, taking a break from social media is a popular option. For myself, social media is a big part of business. Responding to inquires and engaging people on social media channels is important. So, I have created some boundaries for my social media use. On my phone, I only have essential apps and programs. The games and other apps are on a tablet that stays at home. Although this is a personal struggle I try my hardest to set aside times to check Facebook just to check one message and then finding myself 20 minutes later watching a stupid video of people falling down. (Which by the way I find absolutely hilarious… Did you see the one were people were slipping on the ice in their driveways? So funny!). The important thing is to make an intentional decision to decrease or remove technology.
Addiction is not what God intended for our lives.
Addiction can consume our thoughts and dictate our behaviours but God intends for us to live in freedom and faith. (Gal. 5:1, 2 Cor. 3:17, John 8:36, Eph. 3:12, Ps. 118:5)
Addiction wreaks havoc in relationships, disrupts productivity and generally erodes our well-being.
The body’s natural tendency to seek pleasure and contentment is distorted by the devil and addiction breeds.
Self-examine your life and behaviours. Ask God to reveal to you what may be drawing you away from His intended freedom.