This is a clip from the documentary film “What the Bleep Do We Know” explaining the biochemical mechanisms of addiction. What we repeatedly say about ourselves becomes our identity. An addiction can be viewed as a bad habit. If, for instance, we feel angry or depressed on a daily basis, those nerve cells for anger or depression will fire. Physiologically, synaptic pathways are established that impulses travel freely on.
So what does this mean? The more often we feel a particular emotion, the more rapidly it can be accessed. When we no longer feel control over those emotions, we have become addicted to them. However, this process can be interrupted. Research has suggested that it takes about 3 weeks to create a habit, or to break one. Nerve cells that no longer fire together, no longer wire together.
Life doesn’t just happen to us, we are co-creators of it. Emotions are a product of thoughts. When you feel an emotion such as anger, stop and ask yourself what triggered it. Become an observer of the emotion. What was the circumstance that made you angry? What was going on in the environment? What was the internal dialogue running through your head? Is there another way you could have interpreted the situation? What could you have said differently to yourself about what happened? Learning to identify and stopping “toxic” thoughts can be empowering. We may not be able to control all of the stressors life presents us with, but we can choose how we think about and react to them.
Author: Dr. Masha Godkin,Psy.D, MFT is a professor of counseling psychology, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Ca. with an Online Therapy Practice, as well as a former child actor. One of her specialties is in addictive behavior and counseling those in the performing art professions. Visit http://www.onlinetherapywith-dr-masha.com to learn about the Online Therapy service options that are available.