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Monday, June 29, 2009

Stop Dealing Drugs

to your family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. NOT those kinds of drugs, we are talking about emotional addicts and how we enable them. My definition of addiction is simple: something you can't stop. Every time someones becomes angry, the hypothalamus in the brain produces chemicals to be released into the bloodstream. The problem with an addict, is he always wants more. So, a person addicted to anger will conjure up situations (whether real or imagined) to trigger the emotional "hit" they need. We, as enablers, allow the person to trigger a reaction out of us that will give them the hit they seek. Ever wonder why some people pick fights out of nowhere? Why some people always have drama in their life? View a short video on emotional addiction.
I have a couple of questions I ask myself whenever someone seems to be needing a reaction out of me. What emotional "hit" am I fulfilling for them (anger, frustration, victimization)? Do I want to give them this? If my answer is no, I simply withhold what they need. I don't give them the emotional reaction they are expecting from me. On the contrary, my response is either changing the subject or responding in an objective way that I know won't create that "hit" for them. This usually works, unless it's someone who's been faithfully counting on you as their "drug dealer" for years, like a relative or good friend. Then, it's a little more complicated and will require you to stand strong in your position. At first, the addict will be slightly confused at your new behavior. Then he will try different tactics to cajol that needed reaction out of you. Don't be surprised if he becomes rude, combative or desperate (just like a drug addict). Over time, he will seek someone else to provide the emotional high he needs. Be aware you may lose this relationship if you choose to change your behavior towards them, but you may also be the first step they need to overcome their addiction.
Emotions aren't wrong, they make life more colorful. The important thing to remember is not to allow our emotional states to control us, otherwise we must be addicted to them.