There is an idea that teaches we are all addicted to something, and in today’s lightning speed society, all you have to do is look around to see that idea in action everyday. In the name of self-improvement, self-love, health, status, and mindfulness, we chase many “good” things. It’s good to want success in business and relationships. It’s great to want to be healthy, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a lover of self. But, at what point does a good thing turn bad?
Here are 5 signs a healthy habit is in danger of becoming an addiction:
1. You feel intense fear or panic if you don’t do it.
Whether it’s washing your hands for a number of seconds, eating a certain meal on a given day, meditating, or even something as mindless as Facebook scrolling, if you’re feeling panicky over even a thought of restraint, you are entering into a dangerous zone of compulsion/obsession. Obsessive thoughts and feelings of panic can ensue when we are so fixed on doing something that feel we have to do it. Our minds will trick us into thinking that doing what we are fixated on will satiate our anxiety and calm us down. In reality, it just feeds the need to do it again, and so begins the irrational necessity of something, i.e. addiction.
2. You begin to let it interfere with other parts of your life.
Once a habit gets out of control, it can take your energy away from work, relationships and other day-to-day commitments. For me, my personal “good” habit was exercise and portion control. I had always gotten up at 5 AM and had a rigid exercise schedule. This routine developed into a problem when I was more committed to exercising and food control than I was to myself. In due time, everything I did revolved around my exercise and eating schedule. It was all I thought about at work and I had no peace when I wasn’t doing it.
3. You make doing something more important than why you’re doing it.
I realized my exercise and diet was a problem when I found I was no longer doing things just to be healthy or feel good, but to have control. The minute your motive changes to any kind of attempt at control or escape, it’s not a healthy thing. It soon got to the point where I was celebrating my extreme discipline and self-control. It turns out my good intentions were overrun by my perfectionism, and finally, my true motives were exposed. I was addicted to being a certain way, feeling a certain way, and even though they were “healthy” lifestyle choices, they drove me to dangerous places.
Like any new routine, habit, or practice, take care to always be in tune with why you’re doing what you’re doing. Step back and reassess from time and make any mental, physical, and emotional adjustments as necessary. Balance is key!