Overcoming the addiction to “feelings” by Craig Rogers, co-founder of Zion Educational Systems. Zion Educational Systems, a website for boarding schools for future leaders who are struggling with addiction to “feelings” and “blame”, substance abuse, and other self-defeating behaviors.
All to often the decisions we make on a daily basis is all about how we feel, and meeting our own personal desires, wants, and whims. More often then not, if you really get down to it, very few of our decisions are based our needs, and most personal decisions are based on our “feelings”. When some people feel blue, they drink or use drugs… they use substances in order to feel better (relieved). When some people feel down they eat for comfort… they attempt to fill a void. When some people feel empty they blame others… as to avoid responsibility. When some people get headaches they take aspirin…. Maybe the stress if causing your discomfort. When most people feel hungry they eat…. Instead of eating for nutritional needs. Can you imagine if you FELT blue, down, empty, stressed and hungry all at once? Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by defeating feelings? How do you handle these feelings?
First of all, I want to ask the tough questions… such as, “are feelings real?” Meaning, are your feelings of loneliness, depression, or stress based in reality? Or,you’re your feelings authentic? Are your feelings normal considering the choices you’ve made? Lets say you feel blue, depressed, down, empty, and you feel like a big fat loser… after you drink too much, ate too much, and partied all night… waking up to find that you acted like a fool while you were drunk. Should you feel depressed? Is it a legitimate feeling? Then let me ask this question, “why did you drink too much, eat too much, and party all night?” Is it because life is tough and you wanted a break from the dull drums of life? Wanting to break free from some gloom? Do we ever find the relief from our negative/dark feelings by getting drunk, eating too much, or partying all night? What if instead we met our need, instead of falling prey to our feelings? What if instead of partying and getting stupid on alcohol you worked out, ate a salad, and went to bed early reading an uplifting biography about a powerful leader who led a significant life? What if instead of drinking and getting drunk we volunteered at a homeless shelter, helped a friend move, or spent time with your elderly mother? What if you took a long walk with your girl (or guy) after eating a healthy dinner, drank some ice tea with lemon, and watched a good uplifting movie? Wow… what a difference?
Most all our personal ills are caused by the decisions that we make, decisions that are based on our “feelings” as opposed to decisions based on our needs. Meeting our “feelings” or meeting our “needs” is the toughest decision we make, and we are forced to make this type of choice hundreds, if not thousands of times per day. The weird thing is that when we make decisions based on meeting our needs we usually feel good, or better overall. Meaning, I absolutely hated going to school my entire life. I hated going to elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. The Master’s degree program was worse than all my previous educational experience combined. I was never a good student and attending classes, taking exams, writing papers always ended up being a reminder of inadequacies and lack of intelligence. My entire life I have not been able to sit still, or sit in one place, without feeling like I was going to explode. Therefore, sitting in a boring class was pure torture. That is why I flunked out of college twice before finishing with a decent GPA and having earned several degrees. In order to finish college I had to make the choice between “feeling” like going to class, and “needing” to go to class. I can’t remember a single time when I “felt” like going to class. Fortunately, year after year I made the right decision to study, attend class, and do so despite what I felt like doing. My education has always been the “ticket” I have used to get on the train to success. Without my education I would have never been able to enjoy a rich and rewarding career. Never. I have no idea what I would have ended up doing, but the craziest thing of all is that I am an owner of a SCHOOL! I hope those who are reading this understand the irony of my story. The kids who hated school ends up getting a college education and eventually starts up and manages a school for kids who hate school. By meeting my needs, instead of falling prey to my feelings, I learned to overcome… finding peace, comfort, and fulfillment.
It was not easy to get to the place I am today. For 8 years I was enthralled in drug addiction and deep depression. Why? Because, I was trapped in the cycle of fulfilling my feelings despite my needs. Seriously, I felt bad all the time, so I escaped my bad feelings by doing anything that caused me to feel good (albeit temporary). I drank, smoked pot, and did anything that felt good for the moment… all the while avoiding the hard things that dealt with my actual needs. I call this, “emotional immaturity”, or an addiction to feeling good (which is a delusion). Today, I read, study, and learn because I have needs. Today, I meet my life by meeting my needs and the needs of others. Today, when I feel bad I work out, I eat well, and I serve the needs of others regardless of how I feel. My feelings do not determine my actions, nor do they prevent me from meeting my needs. I have all kinds of little tricks to addressing the depression that constantly haunts me… I get busy doing something constructive, something meaningful, and it always has something to do with blessing someone who has it worse than I (despite the way I feel). Serving my needs while meeting the needs of others is not fun, it is not easy, and it is not “normal”. But soon after choosing to meet my needs instead of my feelings I end up feeling great! Kinda weird that most people go their entire life without discovering this simple notion.