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Addicted to Thinking

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

I think you can become addicted to thinking. Think about it. Wait…that’s the problem. Seriously though, have you ever stopped to think about what you’re thinking about? We call this “meta-cognition” in psychology and I teach it to my clients on a regular basis. Most of us go around thinking that we are our thoughts and feelings, saying things like “I’m hungry” “I’m lonely” “I’m obsessing”, but we aren’t any of those things. We are living, breathing organisms with a mind that is perceiving electrical impulses in our brains that interpret thoughts and feelings. I know, I’m a geek, but I think it’s fascinating how the mind and body are connected and since you cannot have one without the other, let’s talk about thought addiction, compulsion and the desire to figure things out.

Studies continually evolve regarding the human cellular genome including the role of amnio acids and proteins and how these interact and create the chemical reactions in our individual cells. For the sake of time, let’s just say there is a whole lot of chemistry going on every time we think, feel or sense anything. So much so that we still can’t even explain consciousness. Our bodies and minds are continuously working, and we don’t have any control…or do we? It’s still pretty controversial to say that someone with an addiction has no control over it, however science is beginning to side in favor of the addict. In fact, we can nearly say that most of our behavior is a form of addiction, whereas the subconscious patterning from years of doing certain behaviors have been ingrained into our brain as neuropathways. These patterns produce compulsions and blind spots guaranteeing chemical reactions our cells and brain crave. Pretty amazing, right? If you have any doubts, try it yourself. Try not to do something you always do; you can’t do it or in the least you won’t be able not to do it consistently.

This isn’t an indictment, just an observation. The addiction is the chemical reaction that occurs at the cellular level in our bodies when we think, feel, ingest, create, and sense. These chemical reactions produce electrical impulses which the mind decodes, make perceptions and contrive judgments. Compulsions are just the impulse to perform that chemical reaction again and again, giving ourselves a “hit” of adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, or cortisol. What we are unable to do is control these chemical reactions willfully.

As you can see, I’m the kind of person who likes to figure things out. I love to read, study, and report on my findings. I think I was definitely a scientist in past life! I think perhaps, “figuring things out” is my addiction. It’s not that I’m always striving, wait, that probably is it in a nutshell. I am always striving to know more. I wonder if someday I can just sit and have a lemonade on my porch, just breathing in the fresh air, thinking about absolutely nothing.

Consider the things that you think about on a regular basis. Do you think about everything that is wrong in your life today? Do you plan incessantly about the future? Do you think that thinking about something will make it less painful should it occur? Do you fancy worry? Do you think that other people are thinking the same things you are? How comfortable are you with not knowing?

One last word. This post is mainly about the addiction and compulsion of thinking. If you or someone you love has an addiction to alcohol or other harmful substances, there is help. Please contact Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotic Anonymous or Al-Anon Family Groups on-line for local support and on-line meetings. You are not alone and there is help. Addiction is genetic and treatable. Even if you don’t have a substance addiction, maybe it would be wise to check other behaviors and see if there isn’t something that you can change that will improve your mood and your life. I’m already making time today to meditate, to clear my mind and to rest my internal chemical-making machine. Maybe I’ll even make some lemonade.

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