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August 21, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Mental Health

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Dealing with addictions and being a perfectionist

Question:

I am 21 years old. I believe I have an addictive personality. I can't handle a basic thing like a video game, high-tech telephone or computer - porn as well. I get attached to it like a high and when I get rid of one thing I feel bad about it and then something else comes in a heartbeat and I spend more and more time on it. When I try to get out of the loophole I find ways to trick myself and I end up back to square one. I also feel like I'm a perfectionist. I expect things to be perfect and I constantly find fault in things which then make me dislike it. I don't know how I will ever marry, even though I don't date or anything because I am somewhat religious. I'm scared to make moves on my own, although this could be because my mother has always babied me. I haven't done anything until the age of 20.

I just want help. How can I be a better me?

Ein, 21-year-old man

Answer:

Dear Ein,

I have good news for you. You don't have an addictive personality. There is no such thing. Oh, the "experts" say there is, but putting people in boxes like this is harmful rather than useful.

What you have is a survival mechanism that allows you to cope with the difficulties in your life, particularly how you think of yourself. Some time in the past, you were feeling bad, and found that total involvement in some activity gave you a holiday from misery. Because it worked, you kept doing it, more and more. Now, it is such a well-established habit that you feel as if you couldn't cope at all unless you were completely involved in some activity that can take up all your attention. Some of these activities are harmful. So doing them makes you feel bad about yourself, and your automatic, highly learned way of coping with feeling bad about yourself is to engage in some activity like video games or porn or whatever. That's all that is meant by an "addictive personality."

If you don't like this, you can change what you do. It's hard work because it means habit change. Read http://anxietyanddepression-help.com/habit.html to get a few pointers. Here is how to do it. Once upon a time, I had a compulsion to finish whatever I started. At the time I was building my adobe house. Sometimes, I had a row of bricks to finish when it got dark. I finished the job because I HAD to. Then, in the morning I found that I'd laid some of the bricks crooked. So, I did an exercise. For 6 months, each day I set myself an easy-to-reach goal - and stopped 10 minutes before finishing it. So now, I still like to finish a job, but it doesn't upset me if I have to finish it tomorrow. This is what you can do to challenge the habits you don't like.

Until now, when you wanted to stop an addictive activity, you probably relied on willpower. That's a tool that's almost guaranteed to fail from time to time. That makes you feel like a failure, which is bad, and how do you cope with such things? By putting all your attention into something - the problem you intend to change.

Instead, work on how you see yourself. That is very negative, isn't it? Invest some money in a few sessions with a good psychologist, working on the kinds of thoughts about yourself that drag you down. Also read http://anxietyanddepression-help.com/firstaid.html to find 7 measures that give you inner strength. There is also my list of natural antidepressants:

Vigorous exercise: Start easy, keep records to encourage you, advance in baby steps. It should be enjoyable and stay enjoyable.

Laughter: Enjoy jokes, playing with little children or animals.

Creativity: This is not what you do, but the attitude of creating beauty. Tidying a room to make it welcoming is a creative exercise that will make you feel good.

Beauty: Seek out beauty. It's a balm for the soul.

Learning something new: A moderate challenge is a holiday from misery. Become involved in learning.

Doing acts of kindness: The more you give, the more you get.

All this is a start. You can do it.

Bob

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.

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