Getting rid of emotional addiction – explained in order

Getting rid of emotional addiction – explained in order

People automatically check their email a hundred times a day, get distracted by a variety of apps, track the number of likes on social networks – and waste time. They run through destructive thoughts in their heads and get depressed. They can’t resist a piece of cake, a cigarette or a glass of wine – and destroy their health. We don’t notice how bad habits (from social media addiction to love addiction) ruin our lives.

Whatever your demons are, they make you miserable. Indulging your short-term desires gives you fleeting gratification, but at the same time you sink deeper and deeper into stress and mental disharmony.

Forming an Addiction

There is an ancient learning mechanism that is the same for countless species. Here’s how it works. You see attractive food, your brain signals, “Attention: Calories! Your survival depends on them!” You eat. If you like the taste, your body signals your brain, “Remember what you’re eating and where you found it.” The process is fixed in memory, and you learn to reproduce it over and over again.

You see the food. You eat it. You feel better. And then you repeat it all over again. Trigger (signal) – behavior – reward.

Humans, like the simplest organisms, are programmed to move in the direction of what seems attractive and pleasing. This mechanism helped our ancestors to survive, but you and I have many problems with it.

We want to experience pleasure, reduce stress levels, or feel meaningful, for example-and the world suggests: “Have some chocolate ice cream. Watch another episode of your favorite show. Smoke a cigarette. Post a picture on Instagram.” All we have to do is respond to these cues and receive our reward. But satisfaction doesn’t last long and is quickly replaced by anxiety. The brain almost non-stop reminds us that the cycle must be repeated. At the same time, the addiction grows stronger each time.

We mistake pleasant excitement for happiness, but actually lose our peace in the pursuit of pleasure. Source

The problem isn’t just that certain behaviors (overeating, smoking, procrastination, and so on) are directly detrimental to health, work, and relationships with loved ones. The very condition of feeling like you’re missing out on something is a stress factor. Addiction makes you feel stressed all the time.

To get rid of the feeling of emptiness, we go along with our desires, but even more scratch the wound. All we have to do is leave it alone and wait for it to heal.

The first step to healing is to recognize the true nature of our desires and see with open eyes where they lead us. Let’s break down some examples and see what “rewards” we actually get from our addictions.

Social media addiction

Many of us are used to taking selfies and posting our pictures on social media. It is one of the most common addictions in today’s world. Have you ever wondered what causes it? It’s simple: we want to get other people’s approval and to feel our own importance in the community (in the animal world, respect from peers increases the chances of survival and transfer of DNA, so everything is still explained by primitive instincts).

So what do we really get? Here you are walking along the seashore, but not enjoying the sound of the waves, the fresh breeze and the soft sand under your feet, but taking pictures of yourself in different poses for an hour. Or you sit at a family dinner, but you are there only physically. You have no time to talk to your relatives because you are busy with an important thing: checking how many likes your friends gave for your last selfie.

Selfie addiction is a disease of the 21st century. Source

Once you’ve “scratched” your ego and enjoyed it, you turn to this source of solace over and over again. Why deal with the causes of boredom, anxiety or sadness if you can just take another picture, post it on social media and instantly cheer yourself up? But you’re not solving the problem; you’re only making it worse.

Anxiety intensifies, stress builds. Getting through the day without another dose of likes becomes an impossible task.

As studies have shown, people addicted to virtual interaction have serious problems controlling their emotions and behavior. And here’s the best part: they have a decreased sense of self-importance and a sense of isolation from society.

Another unpleasant effect is that users of social networks begin to feel deep dissatisfaction with their own lives. For the purpose of self-presentation, people carefully select and retouch the photos, post only the best pictures from vacations and create a kind of perfect picture. We do the same, but when we look at other people’s profiles, we forget about it and ask ourselves: “Why isn’t mine the same?” Stress builds up and symptoms of depression appear. So what do we do? We continue to “get stuck” in a loop of habit, worsening our condition.


You are trying to concentrate on work, but suddenly get distracted (by a Skype message, a push notification from your favorite information resource or, for example, pleasant thoughts about a future trip) – and “hang up” for a few hours. Does this situation sound familiar? We see something that promises us pleasure, and we succumb to the first impulse.

In the meantime, important tasks pile up and we feel less and less like doing them. Anxiety and guilt build up. To cope with the discomfort, we switch back to something easy and pleasant, repeating the same actions that led us to stress.

In the age of digital technology and the fast-paced rhythm of modern life, we tend to be constantly distracted. Source

Distraction addiction is a serious problem for modern man. The inability to concentrate not only prevents us from performing current tasks, but also creates dangerous situations (in particular, when the driver at the wheel answers the phone). What’s more, by daydreaming, we can miss out on the best moments of our lives.

For example, instead of closely watching your son’s school play, you start planning a vacation that is still a long way off. It seems like a pleasant thing to do (after all, even for the anticipation of pleasure we get a dose of dopamine), but what are the consequences? First, you miss something more important in the meantime – your child’s performance. And second, your brain won’t stop. It will bring you back to the same questions over and over again: “Did I calculate everything right? What else will I need to buy? What are the best dates to choose?” Such thoughts don’t calm you down; they only create additional pressure.

The ability to be “here and now” is important both at work and in your personal life. The habit of being distracted (whether by gadgets or daydreaming) tends to increase stress levels and create a sense of detachment from reality. So arm yourself with self-control and force yourself to focus on the present moment.


Ironically, even our beliefs can be just a habit. Sometimes it is a very damaging dependence on those tenets we were taught as children, various prejudices, and stereotypes. We cling to their views, and all the contradictions ignore, because it is more comfortable.

Closed-mindedness, partiality, and an inability to analyze new information is what we end up with. Even when everything points to the falsity of our beliefs, we continue to resist and prove that we are right (including to ourselves). And if we do come to an epiphany, it is in a painful way.

We must learn to look beyond our own attitudes and see the bigger picture. Source

Dependence on beliefs can manifest itself in different ways. For example, parents often praise a child for his intelligence, he gets used to the idea of his own intellectual superiority and, as an adult, begins to demand from others to recognize these exceptional abilities. Such a person constantly talks about his achievements and expects admiration from other people, and if he does not receive the next portion of admiration, he feels uneasy.

Another example: you have an idol, in whose infallibility you are absolutely sure. Even if you are given the facts proving the involvement of that person in a serious crime, you will defend the innocence of his hero to the last moment, or look for excuses for his actions.

Having a certain picture of the world in your head gives you considerable satisfaction, to the point that you become dependent on your views. And in doing so, you lose the ability to absorb new information or adapt to change.

Love addiction

There is a difference between love and addiction. Catastrophe occurs when we become completely fixated on our feelings and lose control of the situation.

Romantic love is often characterized by a pronounced concentration on the partner and obsessive thoughts about him, psychological dependence, a strong desire for emotional unity and fixation on one’s suffering. In essence, we put a plaque at the center of the relationship that says “I” and proclaims that we must have this or that.

Dependency is getting sucked into the vortex of satisfying one’s desires-over and over and over again. If a relationship is built on such possessive love, it will not end well.

Love shouldn’t revolve around us. Source

As research shows, love does not always activate the parts of the brain responsible for self-direction and reward. For example, the posterior cingulate cortex remains surprisingly calm during the practice of loving-kindness – genuinely wishing people well.

Altruistic love does not cause excitement, anxiety, or tension; instead, you may feel warmth in your chest, freedom, and relaxation in your body. The bottom line is that these feelings don’t make you want more and don’t lead to addiction.

How to ride the wave of desire

In the book The Dependent Brain, psychiatrist Jadson Brewer tells of a patient who described his craving for smoking as a gradually growing itch. When the urge to take a cigarette reached its peak, this man felt like his head was going to explode–and he gave up. But in some situations he didn’t have that option (for example, if he was on an airplane or in a meeting). So what? The excruciating feeling gradually receded.

Reminds me of a wave: the desire builds up, reaches a peak, and then subsides and disappears. This analogy applies to any addiction. Whatever habit you want to get rid of, try next time to listen quietly to your physical sensations and wait a little while. Once you get past the tipping point, you’ll notice the cravings receding on their own.

Imagine yourself as a surfer: you have to ride a wave and stay on top of it until it wears off.

Each time you “ride the wave,” you stop feeding your addiction. Source

The desire will come back more than once. (Though it will gradually become weaker.) Learn to recognize this growing feeling, relax into it, observe your physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, and note changes. Mindfulness will allow you to get rid of automatism, take control, and refrain from self-destructive actions.

If you compare desire to a campfire, you need to stop tossing wood into it (refusing action and reward). It will take some time for the residual fuel to burn. Then the embers will smolder, but one day they will go out, too.

Emotional addiction – what is it and how to deal with it?

Today this problem is widespread in modern society. Very often we hear the phrase “I can not live without him (her)” from both men and women. Strong jealousy, constant complaints about the partner, the desire to be together 24 hours a day are a manifestation of emotional dependence. The flip side of a dependent relationship is loneliness, when, tired of the pain, a person decides to avoid an emotionally close relationship and becomes aloof. Such loneliness is quite painful and takes a lot of mental energy, as well as emotionally dependent relationships.

What is “Emotional Dependency” is a state in which a person feels too strong (almost narcotic) a need for a relationship with another person.

It is a state in which the partner becomes over-valued. His interests, his opinion, and himself are the priority for the addict. If we are talking about female-male relationships, emotional dependency is commonly referred to as love addiction or addiction. However, this behavioral dysfunction is much broader than the relationship between a man and a woman. It can be overdependence on parents, on friends, etc.

In essence, co-dependence is an excessive need for other people, a need for a relationship with other people, a dependence on their opinions and assessments. The addict (hereafter referred to as an emotionally dependent person) usually experiences intense fear if there is a threat of estrangement of the object of dependence. And if the addict once experienced the fear of losing a partner, he or she will now cling to that partner with a deadly grip. The relationship with the addict becomes filled with constant anxiety, tension and insecurity on the part of the addict. This is followed by anger and irritation and jealousy. It is commonly said of such relationships: “Together is difficult and apart is unbearable. Once upon a time, this relationship brought the addict a feeling of fullness of life, happiness and unbelievable pleasure from the opportunity to be near them. And the memory of former happiness preserves the hope that everything can be returned.

The addict sincerely, with all his soul, wants this. And he tries with all his might to make everything go back to the way it was before. He falls into dependence when, on the one hand, he tries to get what he passionately wants, but does not get it, but, on the other hand, he retains the hope of getting what he wants from this particular partner. It is as if he is “on the hook” for the future. But, more often than not, he doesn’t receive, or receives a very small “dose”. And the more the emotionally dependent person tries, the angrier he/she becomes at the partner. He has, on the one hand, a feeling of being deceived, and on the other, a feeling that he is not good enough for his partner, that he is doing something wrong. This situation is reminiscent of childhood, when a child tries to be good in order to get his parents’ approval and love. And if he doesn’t get it, he considers himself not good enough, or simply put, bad. As a child, it does not occur to him that there is something wrong with the parent and that is why the parent is rejecting. More often than not, it is in childhood dissatisfaction with the relationship with parents that lies the cause of a person’s addictive behavior.

And to elaborate, what happens is approximately the following. Once upon a time there was a child who needed parental warmth, love and care. For any child the parents’ love and care is a guarantee of survival.

But in our case, the parents were not attentive enough to the child:

– Maybe they were too cruel; – maybe they suppressed him psychologically or ignored him; – maybe they rejected him; – maybe they even beat him; – maybe the child had parents who were unpredictable, and he grew up in anxiety because he didn’t know what to expect from them; – or maybe they took their discontent out on him; – or he was brought up in conditions where he had to meet his parents’ expectations all the time. And for some reason, expectations were always too high, and the baby could not meet them. He could hear a lot of criticism in his address and his parents’ dissatisfaction with him.

There could be many variations, but as a result, such a child did not feel loved by his parents. All the time he had to do something, to try somehow to deserve love, support and recognition. To feel loved, he had to be someone, but not himself. He always remained emotionally hungry. They say about such people: “unloved.” The basic idea that such a child will grow up with is that he is not good enough. He doesn’t deserve the good things in life. At times, the feeling of his own badness can be projected onto the world around him and onto certain people. And then the person has an acute sense of the unfairness of the world. He may feel like a victim of circumstances, feel powerless.

But in both cases, the addict cannot rely on himself, he is always doubting the correctness of his judgments. He desperately needs the recognition of other people. And he is very afraid of what people will say about him. But if in childhood this need for parents was justified – a child cannot survive without parents, then in adulthood the person is already able to take care of himself, but emotionally dependent – as if he does not know it. Doesn’t notice his or her abilities or doesn’t appropriate himself or herself. It may be a socially successful person, but all his successes remain insufficient. Or it could be a very attractive woman who feels unworthy of attention and love. Emotionally dependent people live with a sense of inner emptiness, and they need a partner to fill that emptiness. That’s how sad life is… However, co-dependency can be corrected, although it’s not easy, but it can be corrected!

The main reasons for the development of a relationship addiction.

A person’s consciousness and subconscious are multifaceted, you can realize your feelings and subject them to verbal analysis, but it is difficult to get out the anxiety lurking in the depths of the soul. The fear of being rejected is an intuitive fear of the subconscious that many famous psychotherapists and psychoanalysts, including I. Yalom and Z. Freud, worked with. This phobia is the root cause upon which emotional dependence in relationships arises. The primary causes of relationship addiction, in addition to the above phobia, include:

1. Lack of parental love in childhood. This cause has already been discussed by us in detail in the section above.

2. lack of an example of correct, mature relationships in the family. Children becoming adults in their future families often copy their parents, their behavior and reactions to certain events. Therefore, the habits of a parent who is significant to the child will play a crucial role. If the mother has always been dependent on the father, never had the right to vote, lived under his constant moral pressure, then the daughter is likely to be dependent on him in her relationship with her boyfriend (husband).

3. low level of self-actualization and self-esteem. The person believes that he has no right to happiness, and if he is loved and valued now, he is “obliged to put himself on the altar of this relationship, to sacrifice himself and his desires,” in order not to lose the love of his loved ones.

4. lack of hobbies. The personality spends a huge amount of time on his partner, his hobbies, as his own interests are absent. He becomes the center of the universe for the co-dependent.

5. Fear of being alone with your feelings, inner emptiness. When a person develops harmoniously, he develops a system of communication with himself and the world around him. Versatile interests, a favorite job, the presence of certain achievements – all this contributes to the fact that there is a process of self-improvement and self-realization. When this component is missing in the structure of a particular person, she is “filled up” at the expense of another person, so the loss of the object of meaning in life causes obsessive anxiety and fear.

6. Childhood psychological trauma. If there was child abuse by a parent or sexual harassment in childhood, in the future it will distort the perception of gender relations and lead to dependence on a partner in a relationship.

7. Feelings of personal insecurity. Also comes from an underlying fear of being rejected, when the self-preservation instinct kicks in. The only protection and support for the dependent individual is the partner, who is idealized to the highest degree. As a rule, his shortcomings are either ignored or greatly downplayed.

Signs of addiction in a person.

Like any addiction, love addiction (passionate attachment to another person) has a number of clearly limited signs that allow one to identify this condition:

– Inability to end the psychotraumatic relationship – no addicted individual can exit his or her condition on his or her own without external intervention.

– The desire to merge personalities into one – the addicted individual tries to “absorb” or “dissolve” into his partner.

– Fixation on the object of his or her love – all thoughts and feelings are only about him or her.

– Denial of dependence – no individual under another’s influence voluntarily admits to being subordinated.

– Feeling of his own worthlessness in the relationship – the person cannot end or change the nature of his relationship.

– Breaking the already established personal ties inevitably leads to depression and an overall aggravation of the individual’s psycho-emotional state.

– Development of a pathological personality structure, where the absence of the internal semantic factor prevails. The person on whom the person is dependent acts as an inanimate factor giving meaning to existence.

It is worth noting that the psychology of dependence in a relationship is a search for positive factors to fight the inner emptiness and anxiety, obsessive fears. The lover acts as a knight who protects his beloved from all troubles and misfortunes.

Varieties of relationship addiction in a person.

The search for the object of affection is based on what a person needs most, what needs he wants to satisfy and in what way. Therefore, there are several types of addiction. Types of dependence in relationships:

1. Dependence on the feeling of love. It is important for a person to personally experience these emotions of falling in love; the relationship with the person he or she loves is not particularly important.

2. “Hate” addiction. Destructive forms of relations between people, when conflict situations that have not found their logical resolution prevail.

3. Dependence “my duty. Type of dependence based on the strongest feeling of own duty to the partner, as extreme variants of behavior of the other person after breakup are considered: suicide, alcoholism, overdose.

4. Dependency “addiction”. When the individual is completely subordinated to the will and feelings of the other person, feels his or her own helplessness. Slave behavior.

Ways to deal with relationship addiction.

At the heart of the fight against addiction is the destruction of the pathological intrapersonal connections that form it. How to get rid of compulsion at home and who to turn to for specialized help, we will consider below. You do not always want to go to a specialist with your problems, so you can fight them at home, but only if the process of addiction to relationships has not dragged on to the emotional and mental exhaustion of the individual on the background of constant stressful stimuli. Methods applicable in the home environment:

– Find a favorite activity for yourself. It will be the impetus for personal self-development, as well as add a sense-making factor.

– Write down your own feelings and emotions. This will help you reflect on what destructive relationships gave you and what positive emotions you are experiencing now.

– Analyze childhood experiences and emotions. Allow you to identify the root cause of the addiction.

– Replenish information resources. Broadening your horizons is an important step in combating your problem, allowing you to consciously move towards getting rid of it.

– Analysis of previous relationships and the reasons for the relationship breakdown. Maybe among the methods used to get out of a bad union for you will find a suitable one.

– Enlist the support of loved ones. Parents know us like no one else, perhaps they can help you make sense of this difficult situation.

– Variety of leisure. Not only hobbies, but also study, work and help around the house will get rid of obsessive thoughts and improve your self-esteem.

– Work on mistakes. It is recommended to take apart all the relationships and make a list of “How not to behave in a relationship.

– Computer test “Level of personal anxiety. Anyone can take it at home. He will help to monitor the internal state of mind on their own.

All these methods of struggle are suitable only in that situation, if the addict realizes the degree of responsibility for his life and is ready to change it. Otherwise specialized intervention and correction of person’s addiction with the help of psychotherapy will be needed. Psychological methods of struggle against dependence on relations:

1. training of self-development and increase of self-esteem. In a group some processes proceed faster, the emotional component is brightly expressed, the support of others, which the addicted person needs so much, is felt.

2. Method of accelerated growth. More often than not, the addicted person is infantile, lacks initiative and is tormented by doubts and guilt. Therefore the psychologist gives tasks in which the infantile person is obliged to take responsibility for him or herself, to make a decision or to express him or herself in some way (it is easier to work in creativity – drawings, expositions, theatrical genres…).

3. Psychotherapy. The person gets rid of the obsessive state and forms a plan of further action in life. Gestalt or Transactional Analysis techniques are used.


Answering the question “how to get rid of psychological dependence on a man” and maintain relationships, psychologists recommend:

– Recognize and accept the problem. It is important to understand the seriousness of what is happening.

– Determine the object of dependence – the reason in a man’s personality or in your own feelings for him.

– Shift your attention to another object. Maybe devote yourself to sports, career, think of some interesting occupation or hobby. In other words, it is necessary to occupy your thoughts with something else.

– Keep your emotions in control. Stop controlling your loved one every minute, not boring him with constant calls and your presence.

– Respect yourself and your partner, and love your personality.

– Set personal boundaries. If, for example, the emotional problem is related to the material issue, then the woman should find a job that will allow her to feel like an independent and established person.

– Learn to stand up for her point of view, make her own desires a priority.

Dependence on relationships or addiction in a mild degree is very rarely treated by specialists, when the person himself can cope with it and the general psycho-physiological state of the body does not suffer, but in its extreme manifestations (phobia of losing a loved one, thoughts of suicide because of the breakup of relationships, etc.) needs psychological control and correction. It is quite difficult to recover from love addiction, but it is possible by putting new interests on the forefront. Getting rid of addiction requires a lot of effort and constant work on yourself.

Love implies a healthy dependence of the partners, and the perverse nature of addiction creates co-dependency in the relationship. For example, a co-dependent spouse needs the relationship so much that she tries to get it from her husband by any means, using scandals, manipulation and in some cases physical force. Psychological addiction differs from falling in love in that it does not bring joy, but brings suffering and depression.

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