Are You Emotionally Addicted?

Negative emotions are part of the human experience. It expands our perspectives and enriches our lives. Our emotions influence us in the decisions we make and compel us to take necessary actions about ourselves and others.

Our ability to feel and respond to emotions is often taken for granted. Rarely do we stop to think and pay attention to what we are feeling on the inside. Yet our emotions are so powerful. They are the driving force behind the motivation of our behaviors.

Emotions are a blend of chemicals that can produce very addictive effects if repeated frequently over a long period. The effects are similar to the exposure of illicit substances such as alcohol and drugs. It is produced in response to our thoughts. A positive thought will produce positive emotions of joy, happiness and fulfillment. Negative thoughts lead to negative emotions that flood our system with stress chemistry.


It is uncommon to find many people addicted to happiness as compared to the negative emotions of pain and suffering. This includes anything that falls under the categories of anger, fear and sadness. Your body, through the unconscious mind, will seek out those negative emotions as it's desired fix. This high is not unlike those high on drugs. Therefore it is crucial to assess where our feelings tend towards most of the time. Our emotions determine our long term attitude towards reality. If you tend to take things personally, you set yourself up to suffer for nothing.

The root causes of most negative feelings are likely imprinted during earlier days or past events. Personal histories can be deeply ingrained in our brains, contributing to how we treat ourselves and others, and how we expect to be treated as we move forward in life.

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.

– Thich Nhat Hanh


You might be invested in feeling bad generally as a means of coping with anticipatory anxiety, such as fear or disappointment. This is how our mind works. It draws from past experiences to both predict and prepares for future events. We get into trouble when the response becomes so habitual that we seek more and more of that heightened state. This is particularly true when dealing with negative emotions. If you notice a vicious cycle of habitual patterns, from one issue to another that kept you stuck in the loop of self-inflicted misery, you are likely addicted to your emotions.

Negative emotions take on its own momentum over time and cause a person to lose control of their impulses. Gradually, it affects their thoughts and perceptions and the way they view the world. Strong feelings can easily overwhelm and cloud judgment. The emotional addict typically cannot utilize important factors in responding, evaluating, and decision-making. They would subconsciously set up situations where they would experience the same misery even though verbally they might have indicated that they wanted to change.

Being addicted to illicit substances such as alcohol or drugs is a well-known condition and society accepts it. The concept of emotional addiction is pretty foreign and is not as widely accepted. In our own discomfort of going through painful emotions, we try to be supportive of those we know who are going through a similar struggle.


Suffering is created by attitudes of the mind. It is the ego’s way of feeling important. The ego is more interested in its sustenance therefore it is the root cause of all resistance and suffering. What is happening is simply what is. The suffering part comes from all the interpretations and meanings we gave about the experience. Nothing is inherently good or sacred and nothing is inherently bad either. The answer lies in how we react and what story we tell ourselves about the pain.

It may be true that happiness is a choice. To some extent, you choose your thoughts and reactions, which impact the way you feel. You must accept the fact that no matter how much you worry it doesn’t change the situation. Let go of what you cannot control. Don’t be so set in your ways that you are afraid of giving up the known suffering for the unknown possibility of happiness. Take responsibility for your reality and give up the blame.

We may not be responsible for the world that created our minds, but we can take responsibility for the mind with which we create our world.

– Gabor Mate


Some people seem comfortable in their misery and pain because deep down, they resist the need to change. It is much easier to blame someone or something than having to accept that we have the power to bring change to our situation. Negativity breeds more negativity like a contagious sickness. It empowers the same type of thoughts and feelings that shape our reality. You start focusing on everything wrong in your life and start attributing those hardships to the universe.

Emotional addicts have programmed their minds to believe that they are not worthy of being happy. Every positive thought would be inconsequential because of past incidents or some wrongdoings. They keep reliving the past and sabotaging their ability to forgive themselves. Self-perceived victimhood makes it convenient to place blame on everyone and everything. They feel like no one understands them or that they are woefully unlucky to be born into a life of perpetual hardships.

The person may be afraid to feel joy since positive feelings might be a “setup” for disappointment. The prospect of happiness strikes fear of the unknown for those who have dwelled too long in the familiarity of misery. This may explain why some enjoy horror or sad movies. They are happy to be unhappy and over time stronger fixes are required to keep them stimulated. Producers and creators of the entertainment industry keep raising the bar. The addiction to suffering is nothing but an agreement that is reinforced every day.


Thoughts and emotions have a profound effect on one another. We need to catch and change the thought before it creates a corresponding cascade of stress hormones in the body. The only way to get rid of the pain is to move through it — to feel it, acknowledge it, and then let it go with intention.

Stress is an unavoidable reality. We get caught up in the worries of the mind and feel trapped by the situations of our lives. The fears of the mind send us off-course. We spent so much time in a state of worry and misery, waiting for the next misfortune to reveal itself that we became attached to the feeling of suffering. Many people without realizing it are so comfortable swimming in their familiar pool of anguish and suffering that they resisted any attempt to be free.

No one goes through life unscathed by heartbreak and disappointment. We relive the past in nostalgia over what was. When it becomes a constant noise running in the background of the mind, it only means one thing: a choice to suffer for no reason. We project our suffering onto the people who love us, and we dismiss all of life’s efforts to support us.


The first step towards any change is awareness through embracing the perfection of this moment. The mind is always looking for an excuse to reject the present, it is always looking for what is wrong and to find a reason why we cannot experience absolute fulfillment here and now. Once you recognize the obstacles that are holding you back, you can reclaim your power to make a different choice.

Let’s view our emotions as a signal that some aspect of life needs to be changed and begin to take action. Life can truly be beautiful if we are willing to step up and get through the tough times. As the saying goes, tough times don’t last, tough people do.

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