Emotions and Addiction:

I believe that all of our emotions are addictive feedback loops. They are a loop between the powerful chemicals our bodies release in the presence of the loved one or the tiger, and the rationalizations that our brains create to explain to us this surge of chemicals that we call "feeling". The addictive loop is that this does not happen for just one cycle usually, but rather once stimulated it loops in self-reinforcing stimulus and intensification. Limerence and anxiety are very very similar. Some would say they are the same thing. I would further argue that the fundamental difference between ourselves and other mammals is that they "feel" the same emotions at the first surge, but do not have the "rational" consciousness to feed the looping. (I hate him because he's an asshole; he's an asshole because he did X; I remember X, boy, does that make me even angrier, etc. etc. etc.) . I have recently observed that my friend's dog seems very "present" very in the moment. It seems to me that one of the fundamental objectives of mindfulness is to halt this looping before it can get started. "Note it and let it go". Some conversations with a Sufi friend suggest that that wisdom has the same objective. I further believe that all substance addictions simply hijack this mechanism with much much more powerful chemicals. It is perhaps easier to decide to stop loving someone than it is to stop smoking. Hence the watchword of AA, "let go and let God" (I make no comment on the God part). ~Robert

Posted on December 19, 2018 .