Consecutive Days Riding: 40 Consecutive Days Blogging: 41
Today’s Mileage: 9 Total Trip Mileage: 344
In yesterday’s blog I raised a question: how do we make a virtuous choice when the allure of vices may have a biological component? It seems to me we have several choices. First, we can appeal to a higher power, turn the struggle with the apparently irresistible urge over to God. We can petition our deity to take away the urge and then wait for divine intervention. While it is understandable that such an approach is appealing, most ministers I have talked with note that while God might show us the way and offer support, we have to make the trip ourselves. I once heard a family therapist state it this way: A marriage may be made in heaven, but you have to do your own maintenance! Ultimately we are the ones, whether with or without God’s assistance who have to turn and walk away from the vice’s allure. We could wait for science to find a medication that will rid us of the urge toward addiction, but it may lead to a dulled and passionless existence.
According to several prominent psychology theories, the answer has to do with the nature of habits. If you want to take a more spiritual/religious perspective you might say it all has to do with rituals! Religious rituals have different functions. One of the intrapersonal functions is to help a person maintain some beneficial behavior, like prayer or meditation, and thought processes, like a daily contemplation of sacred teaching.
William Glasser in his formulation of Reality Therapy hypothesized that one aspect of human nature was our propensity toward addiction. He argued that the most important question was: What are you addicted too? He speaks to the presence of Negative Addictions, like drugs, obsessive shopping, or anger and wrath. These addictions produce an array of negative consequences with respect to our health, our relationships and ultimately to our level of happiness. Positive addictions such as creativity, prayer, meditation, exercise, produce positive impacts on our health, our relationships and our ultimate happiness. These positive addictions, just like negative addictions, can be experienced as a profound deep need to perform the activity. Missing the appointed or regular time for the activity, exercise, meditation, prayer can lead to increased anxiety and discomfort and a strong almost irresistible “need” to perform the ritual act.
While we may spend time asking ourselves why we are drawn to the negative addiction, Reality Therapy would argue that the more practical and pragmatic things to ask is: What do we need to substitute for the vice? What new habit or ritual do we need to develop and promote? If you want to start your morning with a prayer, or a visit to an intriguing daily Blog, or exercise: create a habit or ritual that brings about the desired change.
My minister, Pat Jobe, in a recent sermon on addiction noted that it is almost impossible to just walk away from something that bring us pleasure, even if it is a “short term” fix, or leads to negative consequences. However, it is not so hard to walk away, if we are walking towards something that offers equal or greater satisfaction and happiness.
But how do you do this? How is it done? There is no simple answer or template that fits all vices for all individuals. Each situation is different! However, within psychology the fields of Behavior Therapy and Learning Theory outline numerous procedures for creating new habits, and extinguishing old ones! Now, that is the topic for another posting!