In the latter part of this month I came upon some information about addictive behavior from a couple of sources that tied together so neatly that I don’t think it was a coincidence it happened simultaneously.
I started to think about it and decided my thoughts deserved to become a blog post about how highly creative people have a propensity for addictive and compulsive behaviors.
I don’t admit to being an expert on addiction, whether it be to smoking, drinking, drugs, gambling, sex, food, or whatever else, because addictions—whether psychological or physiological—are complex and are probably influenced by genes, emotional stressors and environmental (or learned) factors.
I include milder addictions that aren’t necessarily as destructive to lives as much as those mentioned above, whether it’s a time-sucking addiction to social media, television, exercise, or a compulsion like cleaning or perfectionism. They all share a common cause.
I heard a statistic that 1 in 7 people have a trait that, when expressed negatively, leads to addiction of some type. Our society tends to label those who go down this path as weak, or lacking in willpower. The poor soul who just can’t get their act together—a loser. I feel that people need to be responsible for their actions, but not condemned by society. Because beneath all that addiction, the addicted are probably condemning themselves far more than those around them are. Even if you are living with an addiction or compulsion that nobody else knows about, are you secretly condemning yourself for it, deep inside? Knowing you should stop, but you cannot?
If this is you, do you consider yourself a bright person? A bored person? Were you capable of doing the best back when you were in school, but either A) were, indeed, the perfectionist who ended up at the top of the class, or B) were the underachiever who barely graduated, who maybe didn’t want to show up for class?
If you think about addictive or compulsive people in your circle of friends and family, what do they have in common? Are they musical, artistic, creative and funny? In my own family, I can think of two people (no longer living) who had addictive and compulsive behaviors who pushed aside their deepest creative longings to live “normal, respectable, responsible” lives. Sometimes I wonder how their lives would have turned out had they honored those deep longings, their natural gifts.
That’s why it hit me this month when I heard it summed up succinctly like this: hyper-creative people use a different function of their brain, and it is a gift, and if their energy is misdirected (or if they never learn how to direct that energy, or if they are somehow wounded early in life for using that gift) then that gift goes unrecognized, undervalued, and suppressed. The misdirection reroutes the energy into forming the negative expression: addictive and compulsive behavior.
Once I accepted this new perspective about addictions and compulsions, it was easy to accept the other piece of the puzzle. (The following is not a paid endorsement.) I listened to an interview by UK author John Flaherty, who has written a book about addiction entitled Addictions Unplugged: How To Be Free. In short, he’s written a book for anybody at any level of this…negative expression…with a general theme that is NOT about “recovery” from the problem but of “discovery”—of remembering who you truly are inside, and seeing how that gifted, creative person inside of you has been pushed aside, snuffed out, told to be something you are not. You are NOT a victim, you are an empowered being.
His insight provides new understanding about the why’s of it all, and shows people that how they define themselves has a lot to do with their personal outcome. An essential point to ponder is: "The meaning of (your) life is the meaning you give it."
Through my own discoveries in the past decade, I have learned that we humans have disassociated ourselves from our own power in such habitual ways, one of them being how we speak about ourselves. I've learned that the two most powerful words are "I AM." Yet think about how many times you automatically disempower yourself by what you say after the words "I AM..." (e.g. poor, stupid, an idiot, a jerk, never going to win).
How does that go...in those recovery programs?
"Hello, my name is ______ and I AM ________."
How would you revise that line if you considered yourself an empowered being rather than a victim?
(If you suffer from a problematic addiction, you need to seek out the appropriate professional help, as this blog post is my opinion based on my own experience and is not medical or psychological advice.)
This article Copyright © Cheryl E. Kraynak