Thursday, January 24, 2013

You May Be Addicted to Your Emotions: Learn About Neuroplasticity

By Dana McClellan

What is Emotional Addiction?

After experiencing some major setbacks in life, I had managed to get myself into an extremely dark place. In fact, I look back on that time and it's all kind of a blur. I became increasingly unsettled in my thought processes and decided it was time to do something about it, so I did a little research on "reprogramming the brain." This post will cover some of the important points I discovered through the study of "Mind-Science."

The first thing I became aware of is that I've been addicted to my negative emotions (as many people are). Scientifically, our emotional addictions have their roots in our past and the only way to dissolve those addictions is by recognizing them and establishing new patterns. Sounds logical right? Many of us already know this and may truly believe we have taken corrective action and moved on, so why is it that nothing is changing for the better in our lives? Recently, scientists are telling us it's because our brains have become physically wired into these negative patterns, so on a subconscious level, the only way to satisfy the addiction is by repeating the pattern. Many of us don't recognize the pattern or the addiction, so the cycle continues.

Back in the day, when I was living my old story, the love I had for my husband felt hopeful and exciting. We had so much we wanted to do and share with each other. It wasn't until years later, when life didn't go the way we both felt it should, that love began to feel painful. We spent years in that pain. Our brains had developed those connections and used the same pathways associated with that pain--constantly, over and over again. We weren't able to sustain our relationship and finally separated after many years together. 

If love is considered such a positive emotion, how can so many bad feelings come from it?
It's because we associate our love with the negative experiences that have occurred over a period of time, reinforcing those negative pathways. Our emotions, completely influenced by our ego, is what drives most of us to take action, fly off the handle, be hurtful, or have a need to be right. This action is triggered by the association of past events in our lives. Our own individual world is one long story created by the self (ego). This story isn't the truth of who we are at our core. It is the self that is separated from God and acting through conditional thinking; it functions at a superficial, unconscious level. However the ego may still capture glimpses of consciousness or awareness.

Have you ever experienced that? A moment where you are fully present and can see yourself objectively? A moment where you fully realize you are more than your thoughts or your physical body? It is a feeling of warmth and knowing and one-ness with our Creator. It is a moment that we realize our worry, resentment, anger, anxiety--mean nothing.

After doing some reading and watching a few videos on the subject (some of which are inserted below) I know that when it comes to the brain, "nerve cells that fire together--wire together" (Donald Hebb "Hebb's axiom"). If we are repeatedly practicing the same anger, frustration, or sadness--over the same type of situation, we are reinforcing the behavior that causes those connections to develop a long term relationship. It's called Neuroplasticty and it's not just theory anymore.

Some short videos that describe neuroplasticity in VERY simple terms.

Creating New Pathways

How do we reverse this negative way of thinking and acting? I'm just going to scratch the surface here by saying that one way to do it is by being fully present in the moment and practicing gratitude. When one is present, it is much easier to capture negative thoughts and see them for what they are. Another way is by visualizing what we want in the future and actually experiencing it. We must meditate on it as if it were real. What does it look like, feel like, smell like? How does it make you feel? What are the sounds and other sensations you are experiencing? Studies show that our subconscious mind can't tell the difference whether it's real or not.

Building New Pathways

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
- See more inspirational quotes at:

I've written in previous posts about being "present in the moment" (mindfulness) and I plan to go much more into detail about this topic. Mindfulness gives us far better perspective. It helps us to be grateful for what we have and are--thereby, interrupting negative cycles. I believe it is the key to living a content and happy life. It is within us all, so we can always access it. No more "I'll be happy when..."

Gratitude Video (again because I love it)


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