Unless you’re one of the few who can flick your emotions off like a light switch, you’ve most likely experienced having to force yourself to let go of someone of whom or something of which you didn’t really want to let go. It doesn’t have to be a relationship; it could be anything about which you cared deeply, including a change in your routine, doing away with an unhealthy habit, or job loss.When the change is something you want or initiate, letting go may not be quite as difficult, but it’s still hard. When you dwell on what you’ve lost or revisit your old ways, you may feel defeated, weak, pathetic, hopeless, or any number of unflattering adjectives. If your inability to let go or stop your behavior is beyond your control, you may be addicted.Receiving intense enjoyment or stimulation from a person or activity creates a natural high, causing you to want more. Just like cocaine and nicotine, passionate relationships, sex, work, gambling, shopping, exercise, eating… insert the name of your passion/obsession here… alters your brain chemistry, specifically dopamine, potentially resulting in addictive behavior; (1,2) therefore, withdrawal from these activities has the associated symptoms of addiction—physical pain, distress, and attachment.(1)In terms of romantic involvement, withdrawal is further complicated by emotional factors that go beyond the loss of euphoria. A loving relationship is an integral component to happiness for most people, because it gives us value and provides fulfillment along with numerous practical benefits. When the relationship ends, particularly, when it’s terminated by the other person, our value can plummet. That, plus fear of being alone and impending loneliness, can cause us to act in ways of which we aren’t proud but can’t control—like a crazed fool.There are anti-addiction medications on the market which appear to be very effective in blocking the brain chemicals that produce pleasure and excitement.(3) With that said, I feel strongly that all other palliative measures should be explored before treating your symptoms with toxins—prescription or recreational.I understand firsthand how hard it is to stop and let go. Luckily, I figured out early in life that the best way to avoid the pain of having to let go of unhealthy habits was to never start them in the first place. But, like every human, I’m not perfect. The key to overcoming my addiction was lifestyle change, spiritual counseling, and time. It isn’t just a matter of willpower.(3)These are the things that worked for me.
SEPARATE YOURSELF from the influence or any reminders of it the best you can. Completely disconnect from social media related to that person or activity. Out of sight, eventually, out of—daily—mind.
SEE A THERAPIST—preferably one who takes a holistic approach and won’t suggest prescription medication on your first visit. It’s important to have a good rapport with your therapist. If you aren’t comfortable or don’t feel understood, it won’t be beneficial to you.
SPIRITUAL COUNSELING—if you don’t have a spiritual background, this could be the miracle cure for you, like it was for me. Becoming spiritually healthy is about “becoming one with everything; learning to become grateful to life… to consciously explore the meaning of this life” and reach a state of inner peace.(4)
ACCEPTANCE—your feelings are real and valid. Don’t put yourself down for feeling the way you do. Accept it rather than try to change it, and you’ll quickly feel the relief set in. Your ability to accept the way you feel is influenced by your spiritual health.
REFOCUS—focus your attention on activities that give you purpose or increase your self-esteem—cross old tasks off your to-do list, learn something new, volunteer, start a home project, work overtime. Meaningless distractions will only work temporarily. To heal, you need to do things that will make you feel good about yourself long-term not just help you avoid thinking about your problems.
Heussner, K. M. (2010, July 8). Addicted to Love? It’s Not You, It’s Your Brain. Retrieved February 2, 2013, from ABC News: abcnews.go.com/Technology/addicted-love-brain/story?id=11110866
Derfel, A. (2009, Feb 25). Study offers insight into brain chemistry behind addiction. CanWest News. Retrieved from search.proquest.com/docview/460053250
Hellerman, C. (2009, April 15). With anti-addiction pill, ‘no urge, no craving’. Retrieved February 2, 2013, from CNN Health: articles.cnn.com/2009-04-15/health/addiction.cold.turkey.pill_1_naltrexone-alcoholics-topiramate/
Dhar, N., Chaturvedi, S., & Nandan, D. (2011, December). Spiritual Health Scale 2011: Defining and Measuring 4th Dimension of Health. Retrieved January 30, 2013, from US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263147