Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

I don’t really like the word “addiction” because it carries with it a sense of being completely out of control or even victim to a particular type of behavior. I think this attitude is a big part of why I never stuck with the 12-step programs I attended for both my eating disorders and codependent behavior. I couldn’t get past the first step, which is “I admit that I am powerless over my addiction and my life has become unmanageable.” While I was more than willing to cop to having an unmanageable life, confessing to powerlessness was just something I could never do. I guess I’m just too much of a control freak!

It is not my intent to either criticize or advocate the 12-step philosophy. I know that AA and associated programs have helped a lot of people over the years and very likely could have helped me as well had I steadfastly adhered to the steps. My best advice is always to do what works, and what works can vary for any of us as time goes by. My current choice is to follow Louise Hay’s advice and philosophy outlined in “You Can Heal Your Life.” Louise addresses the concept of addictions in detail in both her book and the corresponding companion book.

This post outlines Louise Hay’s philosophies on addictions, as well as some of the advice she gives for releasing addictive behavior. I also share some secrets regarding one of my compulsive behaviors and the insights I gained from completing the Chapter 6 exercises on addictions in the “You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book.”

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The passage above is called the Serenity Prayer. It is used frequently in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step recovery programs. It is simple yet extremely powerful. I believe that if one fully embraces and lives in tune with the words of this prayer, he or she will live a much more peaceful and happy life.

I dedicate this week’s post to the discussion of the Serenity Prayer, as I feel it is integral to my healing project and the healing of all those who have things in their lives they wish weren’t “so.” That pretty much describes all of us, now doesn’t it?

I am a long-time fan of the reality show, “The Biggest Loser.” I’ve watched all but one of its nine seasons and I frequently find myself in tears as I watch this truly inspiring show. Last night, as I watched the penultimate episode of the ninth season, I was moved to write about my appreciation for this show I’ve come to love.

The four remaining contestants all went home for a month, where they trained to run a marathon while continuing to focus on losing weight to vie for the title of “The Biggest Loser” (and the accompanying quarter million dollar prize). Two of the contestants were still close to a hundred pounds overweight when they left the Biggest Loser Ranch. Yet, they all returned and finished the marathon! The final two marathon finishers ran across the finish line hand in hand, and I bawled like a baby while watching this touching moment.

Last week, I wrote the post “Overspending,” about a recent shopping trip that resulted in my spending too much money and feeling that I had acted in a compulsive manner. Although there were important lessons inherent in that individual experience, it also raised the issue of compulsive behavior in general. This post is geared toward examining compulsive behavior, getting to the root of why we engage in such destructive actions, and looking at what we can do to begin to turn it around.
Compulsiveness Takes Many Forms…

I shared about my shopping and spending issues, but these are far from the only forms of compulsive behaviors with which I’ve struggled. I’ve also engaged in compulsive overeating, dieting, and exercising, and spending too much time working or surfing the internet, among other things. You may have grappled with similar issues, or you may have had problems with drinking, drugs, gambling, sex, or any number of other maladaptive behaviors. It doesn’t matter which of these behaviors has plagued you, the problem is usually rooted in the same causes.

NOTE:  This post was originally published on my previous blog, The Healing Project.  I love to shop!  Walking around a boutique or department store, I’m like the proverbial kid in a candy store.  I revel in the delights of pristine new clothes, shoes, and accessories. Sometimes I am content to just look, but more often …

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