Some years ago, I was on a mission to unravel the matrix of negative body image, emotional eating, and other food-related disorders. I discovered that the same impulse behind destructive behaviors such a binge eating or dieting was also responsible for every other addiction; the cause of each impulse was being disconnected from ourselves.
More and more, research helped me understand how we have become a culture of numbing addicts and not just to the narcotic highs. The book ‘Chasing the Scream: The First and last Days of the War on Drugs, by Johann Hari, challenges everything that we know about addiction through hundreds of interviews and studies. He concludes that the drugs alone are only responsible for a tiny percentage of addiction, and the rest is caused by disconnection.
“The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It’s connection. It’s all I can offer. It’s all that will help [you] at the end. If you are alone, you cannot escape addiction. If you love, you have a chance. For a hundred years, we have sung war songs about addicts. All along, we should have been singing love songs to them.”
While Hari explores community connection with others as the major antidote, my theory expands on that with an, even more, vast supply of connection. A type of connection that can never be taken away, that’s everlasting, ever-giving, and ever growing when we learn how to cultivate it. And that is the connection with ourselves.
The word “addiction” is derived from a Latin term for “enslaved by” or “bound to.” Generally speaking, the brain registers all pleasures in the same way whether they originate from synthetic drug, a like on Facebook, a work promotion, a kiss, or a chocolate brownie.
The brain and neurotransmission processes are complex and constantly re-theorised, so I won’t go into them deeply. However, what we know for sure through both science and, more relevantly, our personal experience is that these behaviours make us feel something other than the discomfort that we are escaping. (Even if we don’t realise that we are trying to escape it.)
It’s not necessarily always a ‘good’ feeling (pleasure from dopamine, oxytocin, etc.), and it’s not necessarily a ‘bad’ feeling. It’s not even necessarily anything at all. Allow me to introduce to you the 7 Fs.
STIMULATION: Behaviors Indulged Into to Consciously or Unconsciously Numb Discomfort
At their most basic functions, the 7Fs simply numb and distract us from emotional, mental, energetic, physical, or spiritual discomfort.
Eventually, I concluded that trying to replace connection with a pleasure agent is like trying to put a round peg in a square hole. We are creating an emotional black hole that can never be satisfied when we use any of the 7Fs to compensate for lack of connection.
The danger of numbing is far more significant that we would probably like to admit (because admitting would mean acknowledging that we need to give up our beloved crutches). Here is the ticker; we cannot selectively numb life. Numbing is numbing. When you go to the dentist, they stick a needle in your gum to numb the area before drilling, so you don’t feel pain, right? Think about it, it doesn’t feel good either, does it? It’s just numb.
When we numb the bad, we also numb the good. So, if we are always numbing fear through the 7Fs, you can guarantee that you are blocking yourself from boundless depths of fulfilment as well.
Connection leads to authentic living through the bypassing of fear. Authentic living gives us a sense of deep peace, wholeness, love, and fulfilment. It makes us invincible. I managed to sum up the major escapism behaviors that we see infiltrating our very own lives in seven terms.
I want to state right now that these behaviors aren’t strictly dysfunctional escapism. They only become toxic numbing agents when indulged in to escape discomfort, whether conscious or unconscious.
1. Fame: approval and validation, significance; the desire, need, and want to be important, needed, and approved of.
2. Fortune: mixing worth, happiness, and/or success with money.
3. Fuck: two naked bodies meeting to forget, including relationships that are co-dependent and have conditions around love.
4. Food: need I say more.
5. False identities: mistaking ourselves as the ego and its many masks, this includes television as we connect with an imagined world to escape our own. Indulging in our problems, pain and trauma, creating or participating in drama or inversely an unconscious exaggerated unhealthy self-importance.
6. Fabricated highs: substance that shifts the chemistry in our body and brain to trigger pleasure or highs (food, drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, etc.)
7. Fashion: not limited to clothing; it’s whatever is in. Whatever is repeatedly shown; familiarity is safety to the ego as it tries to hold onto its identity through control. This could be body shapes, car brands, television shows, or several other things deemed cool by society’s standards.
The use of these distractions sends us down a vain path of constantly seeking the next fix, compounding insecurities and fears, and being a major part of the self-fulfilling prophecy of stories that keep our fear alive. These activities distract us, but not for long.
The 7Fs are escapism at its most dysfunctional. We grow up failing to realise that there is a difference between what we think and who we are. We grow up trying to live according to values and a definition of success that aren’t our own because they are what we have seen and repeatedly heard from the moment that we burst forth as a wrinkly prune and took our first breath.
If you are to take anything away from this article, it is this: that impulse that you feel when you try to sit still leads to addictions to the 7Fs. These addictions seem to be completely normal in today’s world, but they’re making us ever more miserable, and thus, ever more craving and at the beck and call of impulse. All because we forgot who the fuck we were and we’rent willing to discover what’s underneath, we were not willing to face the darkness within and wade through it to get back to the light. To let it all go and return home to ourselves once again.
While life might ‘feel’ okay, it may lack depth, authenticity, and fulfilment. We may only know the lust of want and desire instead of a limitless, unconditional, and freeing kind of love.
If you aren’t allowing this kind of love through connection, you’re limiting yourself. You’re half living. More so, you are barely tapping into your potential. And that is the driving force of everything I do. I despise wasted potential. I want you to be so fucking unstoppable through the understanding that even the concept of limitation only exists in the realm of the mind.
The mind is a tool, and if used correctly, through discipline, patience, persistence, humility, and compassion, will enable you to go places that the ego will tell you are unreachable. But first, you need to get uncomfortable. You need to begin to look at discomfort and fear as clues that you are exactly on track.
Your freedom lies in your willingness to surrender, explore, dissolve, sit, be patient, be kind, be compassionate, be responsible and be courageous. Change begins within. Freedom is not something we obtain, it is where we end up when we are willing to face and let go of the darkness and tap into who we are beyond our mind.
It’s in that moment of magic when you’re willing to sit with yourself long enough to move through the uneasiness of the mind and connect with you, the light, that life really begins.