Don’t Feed The Beast

So often, as an addict, I fall into a pit of despair and tell myself that:

  • I am not good enough
  • nobody loves me
  • the people who say that they love me don’t really love me
  • anyone could do my job better than I do it
  • I will never get better.

At other times I think I have been so good that:

  • I deserve a special reward (and only one “reward” ever seems appropriate)
  • One time won’t matter
  • It proves I don’t need to go to a meeting or call anyone
  • It proves it was okay to act out in the first place

And then after acting out I would feel so much shame and get so low that I needed to “do something to feel better.” And then I begin to enter a cycle of acting out behaviors.

And then I would begin to enter a cycle of acting out behaviors.

Maybe you have experienced some of these same feelings?

Why Does This Happen?

The truth? The truth is that all of these feelings are part of the same baked-in system. All of these stories are the same story.

All of these stories are the same story.

In every instance, you are “Feeding The Beast” (that internal machine that produces your acting out behaviors).

Imagine that your brain created a machine designed to manufacture acting out behaviors because that is exactly what happened.

When you are emotionally triggered or suffering from withdrawal, your brain wants to return to equilibrium and searches for dopamine release. In essence, your brain is doing whatever is necessary to get dopamine release. Over time, it creates a shortcut,

Over time, it creates a shortcut (a pathway) from the emotional or physical trigger directly to the acting out behavior and resulting flood of dopamine to the brain.

Awareness & Alternative Pathways

So, there is hope, and there are better ways.

The goal is to become aware of the feelings and situations that are most triggering for you so that you can react differently and start to create healthy and positive alternatives for yourself.

For instance, when I am tired but forcing myself to stay awake (and keep working) I can become triggered. Ten years ago, I would have kept working all night and wonder why I acted out the next day. Today, I can recognize the feelings associated with that danger zone and react appropriately.

And reacting appropriately is the key, talking to people and getting outside of yourself can replace unhealthy behaviors with healthy but rewarding behaviors. The goal is to create alternative pathways and retrain your brain.

The goal is to create alternative pathways and retrain your brain. I think of this as a gentle process that takes time and self-reflection.

Beating yourself up or reward-seeking behaviors keep the machine churning forward.

Gentle and thoughtful reflection and avoiding extreme thinking are the first part of the antidote.

But, it all starts with having the self-awareness enough to stop feeding the beast!


“Writing Your Own Best Story: Addiction and Living Hope” is available as an eBook on Amazon for only $2.99

5 Stars “I think anyone struggling with any compulsive behavior can relate to Joshua, and see something of themselves in his story. Like the best writing, Joshua’s authenticity and vulnerability leave me feeling somehow more human than before I encountered this book.”


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