October 2, 2020

The New Face of Addiction: Little Ways we Try to Numb our Pain (& How to Stop).


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I used to have a severe addiction to beauty products. 

I know what you’re thinking: “being addicted to cosmetic products is harmless.”

But the way I chased my next “high”—obsessively searching websites late at night for the next dream product that was (finally) going to make me feel confident—made me feel so incredibly powerless.

And yes, it certainly doesn’t present the same severity as other addictions like alcoholism, gambling, and drugs. But I see the addictions themselves as the symptoms, which show up differently for everyone. And the root causes of those symptoms are incredibly similar. It’s a desire to numb, escape, and distract ourselves from the deeper pain. 

Addiction is something we all have experienced on some level. It’s no longer bound to just drugs or alcohol. Addiction is showing up in many forms. The sneakiest, most well-disguised addictions are the ones we’ve been told are socially acceptable. Think about “personal development.” Even something like this can turn into obsessive learning—a need to take endless personal development courses. But it still stems from that same feeling of “not being good enough.” (Just like my addiction to cosmetic products.)

I’m learning that it’s less about the action itself and more about the intention behind the action. If it’s something you depend on to feel good about yourself, then it’s an unhealthy dynamic. Some other examples are eating, social media, or gossiping—basically anything that we use to escape feeling.

Since letting go of the hypercritical voice in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough, I’ve learned that self-awareness and regular check-ins keep me connected to my truth. Even though I check in with myself daily, I still have moments where I need to give myself a loving b*tchslap and pull myself out from comparison-itis within social media or the real world.

This article was inspired by the fact that I had a mini “relapse” of my addiction to beauty products a few weeks ago. One of my triggers is boredom—not having enough fun and play booked into my calendar. Hello, isolation!

So, while I was moving through this for myself, I wanted to share the process I took to reclaim my sense of inner power and self-worth, in case you too feel like you are numbing yourself in some way.

There are five key questions to ask yourself:

1. What feeling is this action giving me? 

Usually, it’s a quick fix of something like confidence, significance, or enthusiasm. Once you can identify what feeling you are chasing, brainstorm other ways to create it. 

2. What triggers this vice?

You might notice you’re more likely to turn to your vice after a stressful conversation with your spouse or a hard day at work. Having an awareness of the triggers will allow you to prepare for the next time you find yourself in that same situation. 

For example, try creating a new ritual that relaxes you. Maybe it’s an Epsom salt bath instead of gossiping and b*tching about other people for two hours. 

3. What is the limiting belief underneath this action?

Our limiting beliefs are the driving force behind everything we do, so if I reference my cosmetic addiction, my limiting belief was based on “I can’t be beautiful with imperfect skin.” 

Most of the time, we realize how one-dimensional our beliefs are the moment we say them out loud.

4. What do I know for a fact that contradicts the belief?

Once you know the limiting belief, write a list of all the truths you know (these are the facts) and start to contradict your belief. 

An example for mine might be: “I know beauty is made up of so many other qualities. Inner beauty and outer beauty is not just based on skin.” 

Write as many as possible!

5. What new actions can I take that feel aligned to my soul? 

This is my favorite part—setting some new actions that feel really good for my soul.

Examples: I gave myself a six-month ban on buying new products. I also limited social media usage. I incorporated a new mindset to work around the topic of beauty into my morning ritual.

Remember, everyone has vices and ways to numb themselves, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’ve just discovered yours. It’s completely normal for it to go through cycles and get activated depending on what’s going on in your life and how it makes you feel in your inner world. 

The most nourishing thing we can do for ourselves is to remove the shame or guilt when we start the process of questioning our actions. Practice being gentle with yourself and celebrate the fact you’ve got the willingness to grow and evolve.

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