ASK ABDI: WHAT TO DO WITH ADDICTION TO STRUGGLE?
QUESTION: I think I am addicted to the struggle… what do we do with that? I am a recovering alcoholic, and the more sobriety I have under my belt, the more I come to this realization. Without fighting for my life, it all may seem a bit dull. This may be a hard one to break… your thoughts?
ANSWER: The addiction to struggle is a big one for many of us. The fact that you are becoming aware of it is a big step in healing it. Those of us that dealt with trauma or feelings of unsafety as a child learned to live in a state of hypervigilance as a survival mechanism. This defense mechanism will carry internal signs, such as incessant thinking as a coping mechanism for deep-seated anxiety. The addiction to struggle is a part of that, since we unconsciously feel that putting it down would make us feel too vulnerable. So we keep ourselves constantly in that state, so as not to be overwhelmed by the underlying anxiety.
Here are some concrete examples of this behavior in action: our minds can constantly be thinking of worst-case scenarios. We unconsciously make financial decisions that put us in a tight spot. We regularly get involved with people and their drama that pulls us out of our center. We engage in behaviors that keep us in an anxious state, like lack of sleep or overindulgence in sugar or caffeine. All these actions have rebound reactions that lead to more of the same. The overall effect is that we become firmly rooted in the struggle piece you are talking about. Always remember, as you correctly point out, that as much as we might consciously hate it, we are quite comfortable with it unconsciously.
Meditate and see where you are comfortable when things are chaotic. Observe that as soon as there is some relief from pain, you might complicate things or rather let the complications of life take you out of your center. You are like a war veteran, not sure what to do when things are calm as your nervous system is still in war mode. It takes time to get used to peace. Make sure that you are always paying attention to the part of you that is comfortable with chaos, worry, confusion. Life is guiding you, learn to trust it. It takes time and does not happen overnight. Go one step at a time and learn to tolerate peace. What you call dullness, is life unfolding without the wounded part of you acting under the illusion of control.