Willpower and Change

(Post share from the IRATAD Blog)

Many times individuals who struggle with addiction have attempted to quit many times and have spent much of their energy criticizing themselves for not being “strong enough” or “disciplined enough”. This is a very unhealthy loop and can lead to hopelessness, despair, and shame.  I recently read the book entitled “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. Shawn Achor is a positive psychologist and his goal in life is to help people learn to be more positive and happy and in turn become more productive in their lives.   One of the priciples he discusses is willpower and why in the face of  great desire to change it is not enough to actually help us change.

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Love and Relationship Addiction

When a person struggles with love and relationship addiction they become addicted to the initial infatuation and excitement that comes from meeting someone new. The love and relationship addict crave the rush that comes from meeting someone new. Therefore, when the relationship is no longer new or exciting to pursue the addict will begin the quest to find a new partner. The quest to find a new person is as a much a part of the rush as actually meeting someone. The brain seeks novelty and love and relationship addiction prey on this known fact.

This kind of behavior can quickly spiral out of control. In order to get the same kind of rush a person might start engaging in higher risk behavior or move from one relationship to the other quicker and quicker. The greatest desire of the love and relationship addict is to be close to someone and feel important and needed. However, this is also their greatest fear. These interactions allow the addict to create pseudo-intimacy through intense, highly emotional interactions with another person. They risk very little and get a reward. Underneath this behavior is deep sense of shame and unworthiness. No amount of “new love” can compensate for the actual lack of intimacy and is very isolating to an individual. Therefore, professional intervention is needed in order for a person to heal from their shame and form meaningful relationships in their lives.

At the IRATAD we treat individuals who struggle with love and relationship addictions so that they can gain control of their lives and pursue more deep and meaningful relationships. Treatment for these disorders typically include a combination of individual and group therapy, as well as couples therapy where a significant other is involved.