“Each year one vicious habit discarded, in time might make the worst of us good.” Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack (1738)
I had a screenprinting and embroidery business for 27 years that I started when I was 17. It grew into a 30,000 sq. ft., 100 employee enterprise. For a time ten or so years ago, I would stop on the way to the office and get a GIANT Diet Coke. I eventually realized I didn’t really want the soda … I just didn’t want to go to work.
I convinced myself every morning that problems would await me. I told myself that my job had devolved into putting out fires, listening to five different department heads complain about the same problem and then having to make a decision that would mollify none of them. I created a story that left me unhappy and uncomfortable.
Flooding my system with chemical sugar substitutes and caffeine became an addiction that diffused the discomfort I felt for what I projected would await me.
The energy potential that I created with my projections infused my system to the point where I was uncomfortably energized. I infused myself with drama and trauma that I then labeled as stress and anxiety. I didn’t like it, it was uncomfortable. I wanted it to change. I wanted to return to something less full.
The soda served to distract and diffuse my systems (physical, mental and emotional) by giving them something else to focus on. The sugar and caffeine affected me physically. I emotionally beat myself up for drinking that kind of crap and mentally punished myself for being weak and addicted.
So, I deflated myself back to my comfort zone by tormenting my liver with chemicals. It worked. It was unhealthy, but it worked.
Caffeine consumed, comfort zone resumed.
I created “YOU SUCK” stories about myself so that I could return to my comfort zone. I stopped to get a soda to counter and balance the energy I had created by fictionalizing what would await me once I got to the office.
Some days, nothing was. I would show up, no one would notice and I would cruise to my office in peace and serenity. I would Om to my shanty.
I wasn’t drinking diet soda to quell my anxiety, I was creating anxiety to support my caffeine habit.
I was fictionalizing a future to justify my addiction to fake sugar and stimulants. I was creating stress and anxiety to energize me beyond what was comfortable so that I could justify a drive-thru fix.
I was creating stress so that I could justify my addiction!
Upon that realization, all of my addictions changed. I started to question the stories, stresses, and anxieties I was creating. Were they factual or justifications to distance myself from the vital discomfort I was feeling? I began to investigate my discomfort and came to understand that I had a healthy discomfort that led to adaptation and growth and an unhealthy discomfort where lived my addictions, dysfunctions, and the peccadilloes of my personality.
I began to try to quiet the mental masturbation, tolerate the healthy discomfort, and identify and reduce unhealthy patterns.
It didn’t take too long before Diet Cokes were a thing of my past. My liver is still smiling.