Everyone knows what an addiction is and everyone is aware of some sort of hard addictions such as drugs, alcohol or gambling. All these things are pretty bad. That is because people who are abusing these usually cannot stop doing or using them even if it is harmful to them. Those are well-known addictions that require treatment or a strong will power to stop, but are there any less harmful addictions? Well there are, they are called: soft addictions.
What is a soft addiction?
A soft addiction could be anything that is pleasurable and activates pleasure centres in our brains. Watching entertainment on TV will activate pleasure centres in our brain, but it does not automatically make it an addiction. Not everyone who watches tv for an hour a day has this soft addiction. The second part of the soft addiction equation is if we overdo thing then it might be classified as a soft addiction. Browsing the web, watching TV or shopping as activities does not mean they are addictions or that they harm you, but if done in excess and it disconnects you from the present moment, then it might be an addiction. If the excess of the behaviour creates a negative impact in any of the areas in your life, that is when the activity becomes a problem and should be dealt with.
Types of possible soft addictions:
- Browsing internet
- TV and online series
- Social media
- Biting nails
As a quick note, I would like to remind you that you should not get confused about passion-driven behaviour and addiction-driven behaviour. Passion driven behaviour, as well as addiction behaviour, will activate pleasure centres in your brain. However, addictive activities will not add value to your life. We mostly use addictive actions to run away from a deeper problem that we have. Although they might be very similar, you must be really aware of your actions to identify which action are you currently doing.
How to identify soft addiction?
Most of the times soft addiction is hiding something deeper underneath. One example could be that you choose to browse the web because you’ve got this big thing you need to work on, but you think it would require a lot of energy, so you chose to browse the web. Another example could be that you bite the nails because you’re anxious about the upcoming big day tomorrow. Or it could be caused by many other psychological reasons which I do not have enough understanding on so I will stop here.
To identify your soft addictions and/or problems lying underneath them you need to become aware of them. The best method to do that is to practise self-awareness. Self-awareness is a skill that will help you to know yourself, therefore, it will be easier for you to see and change your soft addictions. (To learn more about self-awareness please check out my previous posts here).
Self-awareness and knowledge about yourself can be boosted by asking people around you. Friends and family see you every day and they know how you behave daily, therefore don’t be scared to ask them about any negative things you might have! (But please do not get angry or frustrated at the feedback, take it as an inspiration for self-improvement!)
Once you have identified the bad habits, here are some tips on how to break free from them:
How to break free from soft-addictions?
Track behaviour. Track your behaviours by looking at what you’re doing. Being self-aware really helps on this one, as you get to notice your actions much easier. Found yourself pointlessly browsing the web again? Stop and think is this is the most valuable thing you can be doing at that moment.
Mind your thoughts, write down your bigger vision of your life. Again self-awareness is a big one on this. Once you know what and why you’re thinking it is easier to break the addictions and become a better version of yourself. Write down the description of that new version of yourself on paper and try to accomplish it.
Pick a new behaviour, find other things you enjoy. A lot of people get into soft addictions because of boredom. However, if the cause is not the boredom replacing soft addiction actions with new ones is well recommended too. By adding new, better things to your life you can control yourself and enjoy life a little bit more once again.
Cut back slowly, don’t worry if it seems difficult. Changing habits is never an easy task. It can take weeks or even months, depending on how deeply your soft addiction is in you. Do not try to cut out the old habit from your routines completely. Instead, try to remove it slowly. Do you spend 3 hours on the web? Try to lower it down to 2 hours first, and then gradually lower it down even more.
Seek support. Doing things on your own is really hard at the beginning. Try to reach out to your friends and family and spend your time with them instead of killing your time doing the bad habit. If family or friends isn’t an option try to seek out for a counsellor, coach or therapist guidance in order to deal with your situation.
For further reading on this topic, I recommend reading “The Soft Addiction Solution by Judith Wright“. It goes much deeper in explaining the reasons and how to deal with soft addictions:
This book is about soft addictions and why we are so drawn to them. Often they have a very long history behind them. So one begins to see the reason behind the addiction. However, that’s not enough to stop. This is where the book opens up your eyes. – Stephen Luff
Thanks for reading!
Please leave a comment down below and share your soft addiction story! I know you have one, everyone does!