Are you compensating for your addiction?
One of the most challenging aspect of foregoing a bad habit is not to take up an equally obsessive one. We often engage in theis compensative addiction without realising it. The law of compensation, latent in our psyche, convinces us that any action perceived as negative must be followed by an ameliorative deed. We have all experienced a partner, friend, or family member who, after binging on all sorts of calorific treats ‘goes on a diet’ or a period of ‘detox’. This kind of swinging from one exteme to the other is common in all forms of addiction.
In the short term it is not only acceptable to pursue this approach but sometimes also advisable. However, an issue arises when ‘compensation’ becomes a habit. In other words, when the motivation to make amends for something that we consider unhealthy becomes so compelling that it shapes a new lifestyle. Or that the period of abstinence ‘allows’ a person to indulge in damaging behaviours like binge drinking. When this cycle becomes a habit, we have a problem.
Moderation to combat compensative addiction.
Nowadays, wellbeing theories are almost exclusively holistic i.e. lifestyles that includes a wide range of aspects and positive activities so that one does not feel the need to compensate. For example, the old cliché ‘diets don’t work’ can be broadly applied to all spheres of our life. Gorging on smartphones, coffee, work, social media, TV, internet browsing, etc. would possibly drive you to call a self-imposed ban for a limited period to realign your daily priorities. But punishing yourself by going cold-turkey is just as extreme. Moderation is much more sustainable.
Moderation is very subjective and there is no real way to measure it. However, compensation is a clear sign that moderation is not being sufficiently applied. Compensative addiction is driven primarily by guilt, an emotion that is in direct contrast with peacefulness.
Wellness and integrity
The path to achieving anything in life is through planning and moderation too can be planned. Our energy and time should be apportioned to all the various activities we undertake according to our self-integrity. The definition of ‘integrity’- doing the right thing even when no one is watching – becomes self-integrity when we oversee our own life and do the decent thing for ourselves. This is especially important when no one is there to enforce it because this develops the concept of self-love. Self-love is fundamental for establishing the practicalities of moderation. Love for ourselves never allows us to stare at screens all night, binge eat fast-food or exercise with an injury. Likewise, our self-integrity will keep us on the straight-and-narrow when indulgence in a compensative addiction seems an easier option.
Of course, practice makes perfect and the application of moderation may not provide immediate results. Try to see moderation as a way of life and an important philosophy. Remember, integrity, not discipline is the way forward, the latter makes us comply but the former inspires us to always do our best.
Although compensative addictions may seem to crowd in when we are trying to get control of our lives, there is always a path through that can lead to a clean and sober life.