Everyone has automatic behaviors. Everyone has compulsions and most people have addictions. Addictions and compulsions are a human being’s way of coping with stress in a world that is ambiguous and uncertain. Using mindfulness can help you achieve a different perspective about any compulsive behaviors you have.
Also, once you are mindful of the needs that are being met through your compulsions, you’ll understand what needs drive you. Then you can find healthier ways to use those needs to motivate you to work harder towards your goals. It’s important to practice mindfulness of your compulsions without judgement.
Do You Judge When Being Mindful?
Judgement is never a good idea, not when it creates guild and shame. There’s a saying I also tell people when they beat themselves up about compulsions and addictions. I remind them, “The fact is, you took the action. It’s your opinion as to whether it’s wrong or right.” Remember, you’re allowed to make mistakes and be human.
So, when you begin the process of mindfulness in regards to your addictions and compulsions, there is a process to follow. Most people beat themselves up when they act out certain behaviors, cycles of self-sabotage, etc. But in truth, these are your greatest moments of self-discovery. These are the times you can discover your emotional triggers, anchors and needs.
Keeping a Mindfulness Journal
You’ll need a journal for this process. And it’s very easy, every time you have a thought you don’t want, you document it. Every time you perform an un-useful behavior, you document it. And you ask yourself, what emotion was I feeling when I thought that? Where was I? What was I doing? And what need is that behavior trying to get met? You’ll have to ask questions depending on the situations.
But let’s say you go to eat a piece chocolate cake and you are on a diet. Instead of beating yourself up, you may want to ask yourself why you ate the cake? What was going on in that moment? It could be as simple as you wanting a piece of chocolate cake, or it could have a deeper meaning behind it. You may find that eating the chocolate cake is a nervous reaction because of anxiety. Maybe you were shunned at work, or have a large project and you ate the cake as an emotional response.
Does Mindfulness Help Anxiety?
Then you can ask yourself, how can I better cope with anxiety in a healthy way instead of eating chocolate cake? Maybe you’ll find you need to work on a fear of confrontation, or being able to say no. It could be you need to learn to go for a walk, or to face challenges better. There are endless possibilities for each behavior and scenario. And when you learn to ask yourself the right questions, you’ll really start to learn about yourself.
If it is something else, like smoking for example. You may find that smoking started as a way to be accepted. By asking yourself why do I smoke? You may find you only smoke in social situations. You then discover you are only smoking to get needs met of being liked. And you may even find deeper, that people don’t like you because you smoke, they like you because you’re a good friend.
Then you can ask yourself, “How can I get my needs met of being liked without cigarettes?” Or it may even lead you down the road of, “Why do I need to seek approval and be liked in the first place?”
Mindfulness is Deep
This can get very deep, and remember there is no right or wrong. Whatever is right for you, is right for you. It’s ok to have your needs met, and remember that people want to help you meet your needs. Start keeping a mindfulness journal on your unwanted thinking patterns and behaviors and you’ll start to diffuse them.
And for the sake of caring, if you judge yourself. I was a heroin addict for ten years and now I help people. I assure you, there isn’t anything that you can do that you deserve to beat yourself up for. Just use experiences as guides for healing and better understanding of yourself. And remember, always remember, you’re awesome just the way you are.