When your mind is under almost any kind of stress, your Subconscious Mind is busily working out solutions for you. It searches out past experiences that seem similar and puts them together in a way that produces responses that “feel right”. It organizes responses in a way that is good for you now, good for you in the future, good for others and is consistent with your beliefs. Your Conscious Mind when aligned with such support grows, contributes and senses a sustainable joy.
The Effects of Severe Stress
Severe stress and stress that is novel or comes on quickly and unexpectedly gives your Subconscious Mind more difficulty. If severe enough, the mind goes into fight, flight or freeze. This emergent response short circuits all such support. The Subconscious Mind works best when given time to “feel into” all of its resources. Often such time is unavailable. At times you may not take the time or someone may purposely not give you the time to fully assess a situation. The Subconscious Mind is deep and wide but may not have any experience with a specific kind of loss or situation so it may have little to offer you. All of this may leave you feeling uncertain, vulnerable and uncomfortable. In such situations you may find yourself holding back, withdrawing and feeling disconnected from your Spiritual Source. In a word… you may feel overwhelmed.
How Severe Stress Leads to Addiction
In times of severe stress, the Conscious Mind is forced to make decisions with little Subconscious support. There is a lack of alignment between them that eventually leads to feelings based little on who you are as a person. These feelings lead to judgments that are intense and again based on ways of thinking disconnected from the ways you usually think. This continued lack of Subconscious grounding leads to a search for something outside yourself to provide ground. In place of the Wholistic grounding of Subconscious Mind, you will likely discover one or more pools of self-soothing such as food, sex, power, financial gain, alcohol or drugs.
This can leave you in a quandary. Although any of these addictions “feel good,” they tend to stabilize the disconnected, unaligned state between your Conscious and Subconscious Mind. In this state you are unable to deal with the severe stress that caused all of this. In fact, in time you may even forget what started it all. Remaining unaligned, you continue to react superficially to your life with frequent, often-unexplainable, bouts of anger, anxiousness and fear. These feelings naturally lead to ever deepening false judgments about yourself and others. As time passes, these judgments have an ever more distant reference to your Subconscious Mind and who you are.
In this state, you reach out to your chosen pools of addiction. These external resources have no real connections to you, your life or your values. Having lost touch with yourself, friends and family seem distant and less relevant. You are unable to really feel any love from them and as time passes - they begin to feel the same.
Severe Stress and Addiction: Finding Help
A battle ensues. Your Subconscious Mind continuously sends signals of discontent, “This isn’t who we are! This isn’t right! Stop!” Friends and family at times sense this in you and reach out to you. But strangely, the more they love you, the less you are able to hear them and the confusion swirls around you. You go from anger and fear to judgment to another dip into the pools of self-soothing…
It takes a careful dance to help when you find yourself in this situation. It takes compassion, understanding and experience. Addictions come in many shapes and sizes: love, sex, work, sleeping, TV, video games, various moods, drugs, alcohol to name a few. Reach out, find help. There are answers, it’s not too late. One such resource is Sherry Gaba at Wakeuprecovery.com who offers online education, support and coaching. Local resources can be found through your family doctor, AA, a wide variety of mental health specialists, spiritual communities and anyone you know who has found someone who cares and knows how to help.