Addictions and compulsions are all about avoiding unpleasant outcomes. They are born in anxiety and remain strangers to joy.
Beagley’s illuminating book on extreme behavior shows that people engage in repetitive behaviors over and over again. To alleviate the angst brought on by the possibility of negative consequences.
But this cycle can be defeated. We can practice the subtle art of response flexibility by training ourselves to notice, pause, evaluate and reframe our situation.
One question that has been helpful for me is.
What aspects of your circumstances might your view as a gift to be treasured?
This moment allows you to find joy where others accept fear.
Like when your phone abruptly dies. Instead of shitting yourself with fear that you’re missing out something better happening elsewhere, embrace unexpected boredom and actually delight in your surroundings for once.
Or when everyone at the office starts bonding over that new television show about robot dragon nazis. Instead of running home to binge watch the entire series so you can catch up and join the conversation, embrace the pleasure of engaging in relaxation that is uniquely appealing to you.
Instead of getting sucked into the vortex of noise and shoulds and societal expectations, breathe in the present moment and trust that you already have everything you need to be happy, right now.
These examples of response flexibility, aka, finding joy where others accept fear, reminds me of my first day at one of my startup jobs.
My boss told me, look, we’re all adults here, so when it comes to communicating during off peak hours, you need to decide for yourself what reasonable response looks like for you.
As an experiment, I chose not to install any email or chat apps on my phone. Just to see how it felt. Just to see if I was missing out on anything important.
After the first month, it became abundantly clear. I wasn’t.
There were no emergencies. If somebody needed me for something, it could wait until I got into the office.
This was a monumental milestone of joy. My boundary made my life feel physically lighter.
Lesson learned, setting boundaries and letting go of being on top of everything can create as much joy as fear.
It all depends on how flexibly you respond to the moment.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How will you create the space to metabolize your fears into joy?