Archive for the ‘ addiction ’ Category

Self-Discipline

A friend recently sent me an article on why self-disciplined people are happier than and not as deprived as some people think.

Psychologically speaking, the immediacy of a short-term (small) reinforcement is infinitely more powerful and reinforcing than a long-term (enormous) negative consequence.  Hence the reason why smokers don’t quit smoking, at least not very easily: the immediacy of the (relatively small) “fix” from the cigarette is much more powerful than the (enormous) long-term negative consequence of poor health, lung cancer, etc.

“Discipline,” the way I have always defined it, is being able to place higher value on the long-term reinforcement (e.g. living a long, healthy life with clear lungs) and lower value on the “pain” of forgoing the immediate reinforcement.  I am thankful that I am “disciplined,” as it were, because like the article said, I think in the long run I am happier and healthier and avoid certain problems.  I feel like this is just the way God wired me, it isn’t something I make an effort to do, per se.  That’s why it is a bit strange when people tell me that I am disciplined as if it is a compliment, because to me, it’s just the way I am wired and it comes naturally to me.

In contrast, while there is debate as to whether there is truly an “addictive personality,” in my mind, the characteristically defining feature of an addictive personality is the inability or at least the extreme difficulty of weighing the future consequence into the equation at all.  The power of the immediate reinforcement is even greater than for the average person, and the long-term negative consequence just doesn’t exist.  I have read that an addict has a different concept of time than the average person, that for the addict, nearly all thinking is about the present or very near future.  Delays and the distant future have no place in an addict’s mind.  There is a great misunderstanding about addiction: addiction has little to do with substance abuse (the behavior) and nearly everything to do with thinking and psychology.  Thus, someone can be clean from drug use but still an addict, because of his/her pattern of thinking.

Some people say I am disciplined because I eat very healthy and I exercise every day.  In part, it is because I place a higher value on the long-term positive benefits, but there are also short-term and more immediate benefits, as well.  If there weren’t, I don’t think I would stick with it.  For instance, it’s just simpler to eat the same thing every day, it’s less of a hassle.  I enjoy the feeling of having my endorphins kicking around in my body when I exercise, I like being able to sleep more soundly and restfully, I like the feeling of being physically active after a long day in front of my computer.

Incidentally, I have heard it said, and now I truly believe that there is such a thing as a sugar addiction.  For a few months, my husband brought home a lot of sweets (apple pie, brownies), and I started eating some of those sweets in the evenings.  I’m not even sure why I ate them, just because they were there, I guess.  He finally said he wanted to cut back, so he stopped bringing home these types of sweets.  For a week or two, I experienced a sugar craving each evening.  Eventually, the craving subsided, but it was weird because I don’t even like sweets all that much, but I saw how I became addicted to the sugar.

Kernels of Truth


“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)

I mentioned to some co-workers recently that I have been going through a growth spurt, spiritually and psychologically. I explained that God is revealing new insights, and I am learning more about myself and about His nature, which has improved my relationship with Him. One very Godly and humble woman in the group jokingly asked me, “What’s your secret?” wanting to improve her walk with God. I replied, somewhat sarcastically, “Oh, you know, just your garden variety emotional pain like depression, anxiety, loneliness, and struggle. The usual.” I’m not sure she wanted to utilize those particular tools of spiritual growth.

It is true, though, as we read in John 12, that a seed does not grow unless it first dies. So it is with our human growth; we must go through struggle (fall to the ground) and die to our human sin so that we may produce seeds (grow in our relationship with God) and so that we may become more Christ-like and bear fruit. What is fruit? Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I desire these qualities, these fruits in my life.

While I do not particularly like discomfort and struggle, I relish the growth that occurs as a result. In the same way that I tear down my muscles in the gym by lifting heavy weights, so I struggle with emotional pain in life. And just as my muscles then grow bigger and stronger as they heal from the exertion, so my spirit, my identity, and my emotional health grow as I process through the pain of life’s difficulties.

What is the cause of emotional pain, exactly? It can be a result of my sin, my poor choices, or it can be a result of other people’s sins and bad decisions. Or, it may come from making a wise and righteous decision that just happens to be a difficult choice to make. Life is not for sissies, after all.

I have made some poor relationship decisions over the years, and though I hate to admit it, some of them have caused me a great deal of grief and sadness. Romantic relationships are emotional and painful, but I am logical and analytical, and my rational mind cannot understand why I made poor decisions, like staying in an unhealthy relationship for too long. I know that many people do it, and it is our human nature that contributes to messy relationships, but still, at times I feel that I should have known better.

I have been in two emotionally abusive relationships (one of them was physically abusive, as well), and I still blame myself. It is difficult for me even to write these words, as I feel some sense of shame and responsibility, even though counselors and books and friends tell me that it is not my fault.

Yet God uses these struggles to teach me more about Him and to help me grow in my relationship with Him. As a result of my pain, I can better empathize with my female friends who are struggling in relationships, and I can better appreciate my current boyfriend, who is amazingly wonderful and kind. I can appreciate God’s love for me more deeply, because even though I fall short of His glory, I realize that there is nothing I can do that will make Him love me any less. When I sin or make mistakes, it reminds me that I need Jesus Christ because I cannot do it on my own, and it helps me grow closer to Him. I learn to trust God more in times of struggle, as He eventually brings me out of it. And more of my sin is exposed, which presents and opportunity to grow and learn.

One struggle with sin that is becoming more apparent to me in my life is my battle with self-condemnation. As I wrote above, I often feel like I should have known better. And then I condemn myself for my poor choices. But God tells me that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), so I have been meditating a lot on this pearl of wisdom. But that is fodder for another post.

How to be a Genius


Keep your mouth shut.
Unless you are extremely knowledgeable on the subject.
And even then, just be quiet.
Read a plethora of books and literature.
Do not watch television. Watching TV burns fewer calories than sleeping.
Learn obscure vocabulary words, but never use them solely to impress others.
Communicate almost exclusively in written form.
Overanalyze everything until it means nothing.
Throw out all the information you “know” about everything.
If “everyone” does something a particular way, do it differently.
Beware of things you feel you are “supposed” to do.
Doodle during business meetings or lectures.
Give yourself a weird and unique hair style. It’s best you do this yourself rather than go to the salon so you do not become one of those people who conform to the non-conformists.
Get to know yourself really, really well.
Turn all thoughts into metaphors.
When you do speak, which should be very rarely, talk in rhymes.
Ask questions and spend much of your time listening.
Do not take anything at face value.
Be obsessed with your work. Geniuses have to put out a lot of crap to produce the pearls.
Have serious emotional issues. Be clinically depressed or addicted to something. If you need help getting depressed, read a lot of existential literature (the writings of Jean Paul Sartre, Henry Rollins, and Chuck Palahniuk can give you a place to start).
Get a lot of therapy, but do not get too psychologically healthy.
Realize that you will get more criticism than accolade for being a genius.
Relentlessly pursue some artistic or creative venture, such as painting, drawing, writing, or playing an instrument.
Constantly tell yourself you are a genius.
Do not expect recognition for your genius in your lifetime.

New Year’s Resolutions

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? You are probably doomed to fail anyway, but if you need help setting one, you can let the internet randomly generate one for you.

To all of you who aspire to the number one New Years’ Resolution, I wish you success and good fortune. However, chances are slim to none that you will follow through on losing weight this year.

Your resolution will fail for a number of reasons. “I want to lose weight this year” is a poor goal. It is too nebulous and long range to be effective, and you probably will not accomplish it.

Firstly, you probably did not write down your aspiration, so there is no concrete commitment to keep you accountable. If you did write it down, I bet you did not list a detailed and specific list of mini-goals with time frames for each item. How often are you going to exercise? Where? When? What will you eat? Where? When?

Secondly, are your goals realistic or are you trying some newfangled fad diet that is doomed to fail? Do you really think you can overhaul your diet and exercise regime all at once and make it enjoyable? Can you really maintain 1,200 calories per day for the entire year? I think not. Let’s be realistic.

Third, are your goals measurable? Can you track your progress?

Fourth, what are your priorities? When conflicts arise (e.g. your best gf wants to grab some fast food and then go see a chick flick, but it interferes with your diet and time to exercise), are you going to justify your way out of sticking to your goals? I know you; you’ll cave and think it’s just this one time, this one exception. You need contingency plans and priorities. It’s really not that hard to say to your friends, “No, I don’t want to binge on fast food and then sit on my butt for 2 hours. How about we go for a walk instead?” My personal favorites responses are, “I hate group activities and small talk, so I’ll decline the lunch invite,” or “No, that interferes with my workout, so I’d rather not go.” Be armed with your responses in advance.

Listen to the recovering addicts. One day at a time. Keep it simple. First things first. Easy does it. Stick to your goals when you want to and stick to them when you don’t. No pain no gain.