By Dr. Donna Weighill
Boredom, loneliness, mental health dysfunctions, and just about any form of dissatisfaction or void in a person’s life are normal catalysts setting the stage for the onset of an addiction. However, there are times when an addiction happens for no particular reason other than ignorance and being unaware or unprepared for a likely outcome. What are your thoughts on the genesis of an addiction? Can addictions be avoided? What strategies do you think are helpful for preventing and/or eradicating an addiction?
The Franklin Reality Model simply states that your thoughts compel your actions or behaviors, which lead to an outcome, that can be traced back to your thoughts. Your mind is more powerful than you can imagine. Whether you create a thought, or allow a thought to enter your mind, if you entertain it you are likely to see it come to fruition. For good or bad, you are a product of your thoughts. Your mind is the arena with which you design and pattern your life. All decisions stem from considerations. Rarely does a healthy, sane person act on an impulse without forethought. Most behavior has been well planned. We all know the principle of cause and effect. Behaviors have consequences. One way or another, we will pay the price of our behaviors and reap what we sow. The rippling effects of our actions reach far beyond our finite understanding. The law of nature dictates a chain reaction of events once something is started, and it’s impossible to go back in time to change what has happened. Still, there is hope. If you don’t like an outcome or a behavioral consequence, you must first change your thoughts.
When you start to feel distressed or unhappy with life, we often resort to familiar patterns and habits, even if they aren’t good for us. If we’ve engaged in a behavior long enough or frequently enough, that behavior becomes a go-to or an automatic response. We must break the cycles of our behavior to produce a better outcome. Change is most successful when you prepare ahead of time. Think of healthy alternatives to addictive behaviors before you find yourself in the middle of a problem. When you are in a good frame of mind, make a list of healthy activities you can engage in. If you wait until you feel bored, lonely, or dissatisfied with life, you are already in a less productive mindset and it’s harder to make appropriate decisions. It’s difficult to come up with healthy solutions or new ideas when you are emotionally unsettled.
Make a plan and have that plan posted everywhere so you have a visual reminder to turn to when your thoughts are clouded. Practice turning to your list as a reprieve from addictive behaviors until you’ve trained yourself to choose healthy alternatives. Remember, the end result begins with a thought. So, be thoughtful about what it is you really want, and focus on a more pleasing outcome. Did you know that definition of optimism is anticipating the best possible outcome? The most successful people are optimistic. Optimism is a state of mind. What’s yours? Think about it.
Dr. Weighill is the Author of To Say Goodbye and All Roads Lead Home: Shipwrecked off the 7th Continent