Artificial Highs

Artificial Highs

Today’s food for thought is on artificial highs (with ties to addiction). When we’re on our way to anchoring, sometimes we hit bumps in the road and start trying things around us that seem like they will help make us feel “better”.

I spent many years using artificial means to feel good. My top ways of choice were food and alcohol (work, exercise, and relationships/sex were secondary). While these methods would bring me up, I could never stay high for very long. I’d drop down and then try to get up again as quickly as I could. I ached for a way to feel better all of the time but felt stuck in my rabbit hole (it could also be called addiction). I struggled to see a way out, anything different.

I watched a video on the topic of someone who uses drugs to feel good. Though my means weren’t recreational drugs, the message hit home (there are similarities with food and alcohol also being external substances). If I were to offer my older teen/twenties self some thoughts, I’d share:

I would not try to talk you out of your addiction, your way to feeling good. The striving to feel good is beautiful, human, and why we’re here, I think. To feel good. To experience bliss. To explode with joy. To feel ease, relaxation, and peace, where we’re not future-tripping or past-falling. Where we’re content.

Our human bodies respond to feeling good. We’re wired to want to feel good.

When we go the route of feeling good through artificial means — food, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. — absolutely, it can bring us to a state of feeling good. However, the challenge with outside/external substances lies in that the feel good state is not sustainable. We will come down from the high, back to the level we started from (where we weren’t feeling great and thus wanted to feel better). And especially when using something we’re putting into our bodies (e.g., food, alcohol, drugs), the fall may end with us lower than where we started; the contrast between the high and the low may feel even greater after the fall. And thus we aim to go high again and end up falling — up and down in a cycle we can get stuck in.

We can’t stay in the high, and we also can’t build off of the high to help get to a raised up baseline level where we’re feeling good more of the time than not, when we’re using artificial means. It’s not sustainable.

There are other ways to get to the high, to feeling good.  Other methods can include meditation, exercise that actually feels good, working on projects we enjoy, spending time with people we feel filled up by. However, many times these methods do not send us up to that immediate high we can feel just like that — it’s a baby step up route. And because it’s baby steps, it’s easy to miss. However, there isn’t the great drop when going such a route. Each step is solid and can be built on; the bottom won’t suddenly drop out.

Yes, it may take longer to get to that really high high that seemed to come immediately once the substance of choice was used, where you’re flying and feeling great. However, while the alternative routes may seem to take longer, there won’t be the ups and downs, and steps up will continue moving in that direction. And when things don’t feel so great? The steps you’ve made WILL STILL BE THERE. The foundation for feeling good will still be there. You can keep going back to them, using them, building on them.

And as you practice, you’ll stay high longer and longer and longer. And get better and better at coming back to the feel good place more quickly when you fall down. And the drops will get less and less. The feeling good will be sustainable.

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