Some folks are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Others are addicted to non-chemical things such as gambling, sex, television, or approval. These are nothing more than external manifestations of selfing.
We are constantly thinking, judging, planning, worrying, and/or regretting. We trap ourselves in a state of self-centeredness, of viewing everything in terms of how it affects us, how it has affected us, and how it will affect us. We picture ourselves as little action figures that must obtain and accomplish, and if we don’t, woe is us. Life in this mode is nothing more than a struggle to “get” things. Even when we get something we want, we can’t enjoy it for very long because we start thinking about how to get the next thing. For example, if a gambler wins, he can’t simply walk away with his winnings – he has to pursue more.
We cannot stop this stressful process because we believe that we are the process, and that if we stop it then we will cease to be.
We develop external addictions when the stress of selfing becomes too much to bear. We reach for something – anything – as a form of distraction from or deadening of the mental pain we cause ourselves. We keep using it time and time again. The relief is only temporary because the burden of selfing does not go away. As soon as the drug or alcohol wears off, the sex or television show is over, or we’ve gotten the money or compliment, we are back to the pain of selfing, with nothing to buffer us from it.
We might mistakenly blame others’ problems on the particular thing that they attach themselves to. It might seem that overindulging in something is the root cause of their pain, so we might label them “alcoholic” or “sexoholic” or “foodaholic”. Well, they were already in pain – that’s why they became alcoholic or sexoholic or foodaholic in the first place. What caused that pain? Selfing. So all of them are selfoholic. This is why “solving” an addiction by giving up alcohol or sex or gambling doesn’t stop the existential pain, and also why people sometimes relapse or develop an addiction to something else.