Monday, April 12, 2010

Word Power: Addiction

In this five-part series, we'll be looking at the power that certain words have to color our realities and change our perceptions. Words matter! Choose them carefully.

The other day, while waiting to check out at the grocery store, I made small talk with the woman behind me. As she placed two 12-packs of Pepsi on the belt, she causally remarked that she was ‘addicted’ to Pepsi. I smiled. If pressed the issue, I don’t think she would have really meant that her Pepsi ‘problem’ was quite that extreme. I’m pretty positive she wouldn’t sell her hard-earned belongings or steal from trusted family members for a fix of that frothy carbonated confection. She probably wouldn’t put her job in jeopardy because of her need for a Pepsi fix.

Addiction is another one of those words we often just throw around without really thinking about its meaning. We are addicted to Pepsi, email, chocolate, video games, Facebook and even our favorite television shows. But I ask, is it really that serious?

There are habits and then there are addictions. Pepsi consumption might be an unhealthy habit but has it really reached addictive proportions? When we label something an addiction, we immediately make it that much harder to overcome.

And when it comes to overcoming, we don’t need to make anything more difficult than it already is. Addiction implies a lack of control. The object of our addiction has the control, we don’t. So, being addicted sort of lets us ‘off the hook.’ Addiction is bigger than us.

Some addictions are very real and of course, I’m not trying to belittle those, however, I am targeting the people who use the term casually – without much thought. When we do that, we do a disservice to the people who are really and legitimately are struggling with addiction.

If you have a habit, you have a choice. You can change it or you can accept it. It’s up to you. You are in control.

I had a bad ‘fast food’ habit. It was costing me money and costing me pounds. I decided to give it up for Lent. The first couple days were hard but after that, I was fine. I love television however, it doesn’t stop me from living my life or getting my work done. It’s a habit I can live with. It’s not, however, an addiction.

Watch your words! When it comes to habits and addictions, the question is a simple one. Who’s in control?

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