Well-being is a state of balance in all areas of an individual's life: physical, mental, and spiritual (regardless of religion or lack thereof). A person who feels good is satisfied with the functioning of their body within its current condition, has a healthy self-esteem, self-respect, and a sense of reality and justice.
Imbalance in any aspect causes a reaction of mobilizing an individual's powers to return to it, and this is possible thanks to our innate ability to self-regulate. It's possible, if there are no obstacles in this process or if, despite the disappearance of obstacles, we do not put more of them by ourselves.
Countless factors can cause imbalance, and we know our condition by a degree of deviation from the reference, which is the absence of ailments, internal peace and serenity.
If the obstacles are insignificant, then the balance returns quickly, and discomfort being a result of it, passes quite easily after removing them. In a situation where obstacles are serious, it may take much longer to recover after removing them, and discomfort may last for a relatively long time. If we understand the nature of this process, we know that malaise is often part of the return to balance, and the less we disturb this process and react in any way to it, the sooner well-being can return. If we don't - we tend to treat the time of malaise as an obstacle by itself and try to remove it on our own. To achieve it we use various chemical substances that subdue discomfort, eat without being hungry, drink, buy stuff we don't really need, neglect reality because of the internet, have sex with people we feel no closeness with, go into relationships with people who, we believe, will make us feel good and fall into workaholism - the list goes on. A serious, unconscious mistake here is that while trying to eliminate the discomfort without understanding its cause, we suppress an important signal informing us about the imbalance and not solving the problem that caused it.
We have very noble intentions in eliminating discomfort by ourselves - we do our best to find a way to feel good physically, mentally, and/or spiritually. We search for ways to make our discomfort disappear. However, if we do not understand that discomfort is an integral part of the self-regulation process, our attempts to suppress it make us fall into the trap of all kinds of addictions that give us a false sense of well-being.
Sometimes we start realizing that we fell into one of such traps and try to quit the object of our addiction abruptly. Still, doing so without understanding exposes us to even bigger discomfort, as we are deprived of our numbing factor and attach a discomfort related to quitting our habit to a preexisting one.
Being trapped in an addiction never means that there is something wrong with us. Everything is ok with us, regardless of some popular social suggestions. We simply lack the information that we choose a destructive path on the way to well-being that we instinctively look for.
How do we know we're addicted, or in other words, dependent on what liberates us from our discomfort? The term 'dependant' suggests 'dependency' - which means that one factor in a relationship controls another (us in this particular case). Whether it is a chemical substance, or a sense of guilt, or relationships with energy vampires, or workaholism or excessive shopping to feel good for a moment - all this has a common denominator - we transfer our decisive power over to that factor allowing it to shape our lives. We 'depend' on this factor's power to provide us with well-being, as we don't realize that we can give it to ourselves on our own with different kinds of decisions. We do not realize that the well-being provided by external factors is only an illusion, and succumbing to their power distances us even more from the desired state of real well-being. We do not know that we are the creators of our own well-being - yet we are.
To be able to say goodbye to addiction without the need to quit cold turkey and fall into suffering because of the sudden lack of a factor that alleviates primary pain, we need to understand what precisely this factor provides us with and to be honest with ourselves on this (no tricks and excuses here as no one will hear it) and search intuitively for what we really try to replace with our addiction. Maybe it is fear to say something out loud, shame of feeling unattractive and not good enough, maybe we feel pain as we suffer from a serious disease, which causes we do not want to face, maybe it is guilt of something we said or did, perhaps anger at someone, maybe disappointment and lost hope for something, perhaps we are afraid to say NO to someone who tries to control our life, maybe it's sorrow and mourn after our loved one's passing away? Maybe…? Here is a place for our reflections and answers. What pain and discomfort are we trying to muffle? Perhaps, the pain goes back even to childhood, which we may not remember, yet it can still be embedded within us and affecting our lives significantly.
If we have accumulated, often for a long time, pain, sadness, regrets, anger, despair, guilt and other feelings that are very unpleasant to feel and we try to avoid them, which seems quite natural, a jam in us arises, like in a pipe - sorry for this analogy. Until this blockage is located, then loosened and the water pushes it out of the pipe, it will cause the problem, as the water won't stop trying to get through. The water will spill over on the sides, flood and destroy, because there is no outlet where it should flow, yielding life-giving current.
If our efforts to subdue discomfort have been going on for years, we may already have a problem recognizing what we are really trying to avoid and what feelings we don't want to relive. Even worse. We can believe that we don't try to muffle anything, but for instance, 'we smoke because we like.' Of course! I eat arsenic because I like it! Who would forbid me? I am an adult, and I decide about my own life! Nobody will tell me what to do!
We are absolutely right as nobody will forbid us anything. A decision must be entirely ours. But beforehand, we must see that by avoiding discomfort and pain on the way to well-being, we are exposed to much higher distress, which is illusionary comfort being a result of muffling our pain. No change in our decisions may cause no chance for well-being as a result of our system equilibrium.
Ok then. If we assume that the facts from our live prove that we try to avoid suffering through addictions, do we still have a chance to achieve well-being, if we don't even know what pain we muffle, as we have not been in touch with what we feel for so long?
Fortunately, we always have a chance as long as we live. No matter at what moment of life we realize what we do and why, what effects it has and that we do not want that anymore (I do not know what I want, but at least I know what I do not wish to - it's a lot), from that moment everything can start changing towards well-being.
If we recognize a harmful pattern in our lives, which might be for instance:
we reach (here I encourage honest self-assessment, not excuses) for substances to get a bit 'sedated' - alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and others,
we eat when we are not hungry,
we have sex with just anybody
we go into relations with people not for love, but to ensure our well-being through relationships with them,
we buy stuff to feel good for a moment, but not because we really need something (buying the twentieth blouse and explaining that we would die without it, this is not precisely the sincerity I mean),
we keep reading gossip websites or newspapers passionately, falling into hopelessness that the people we read about live the way we will never be able to, so we can live their lives and abandon ours,
we criticize others who try to break free from harmful patterns, poisoning them with our defeatism, sincerely wishing them defeat to justify our lack of action in this direction,
we lie to ourselves that we have to work very hard, even though we already have an elegant house, cars, property, savings - more than anybody needs, not to face the fact that we don't even know what we like doing, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
If we do not know what the right decision to make is (so long or for always have we made the 'wrong ones' that we have no idea where to start), it is good to wait for the next opportunity, where we usually tend to make our adverse decisions and STOP there. And don't even try to do anything for a while. Wait for a different decision that would come from the part of us that would never hurt us. That part of us has never been allowed to speak, and it needs time to show up. Then, after getting used to being listened to, it starts coming up sooner, but first few times, it may not even show up at all. But if we wait patiently for its voice to come again and again - it will finally answer. And we will never regret waiting for it no matter how long it takes.
Well-being will come as a result of the sincere pursuit of it at all levels simultaneously - physical, mental, and spiritual.
If we provide ourselves with physical, psychological or spiritual comfort separately and do not feed the needs of our other integral parts, we'll get discomfort as a result that can't be released other than in honest confrontation with the real cause - our buried feelings, and will only lead to further addictions as we don't want to live in pain, obviously.
The confrontation with the real causes of our addictions - repressed and buried feelings can only bring health and genuine well-being.
In brief - how to deal with our addictions? How to bring out these buried and repressed feelings and achieve the well-being desired?
The most important thing is NOTICING at all that we keep looking for well-being in a way that is harmful to us.
Discover how it is in our particular case - in what situations we try to avoid the discomfort of being honest with ourselves and what decisions we make to feel good instead (feeling good seemingly, as reality shows).
Let's not worry if we can't, by any chance, find the pattern at the moment, and we still have no idea which way we bring harm to ourselves.
For each subsequent situation according to our pattern (or just every situation that appears, if we don't know it), let's STOP before making a decision and wait (minutes, hours, days - if we can, let's give ourselves as much time as possible).
Let's make a decision in which every aspect of us - physical, mental, and spiritual - will feel satisfied simultaneously. Not - either-or. If the decision does not take into account some of the aspects, wait longer, look for another solution until the right one is found.
If there is no space for a perfect decision that takes into account all aspects of our being, let's make the optimal one at the moment, be kind and understanding to ourselves, and try again at the nearest opportunity. And then again and again. It will finally succeed, and we will feel great.