The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for Positive Addictions

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People sometimes choose to follow addictions. These can be physical, psychological or both.

They can become addicted to drugs, exercise, helping other people or whatever. These may produce positive consequences, negative consequences or both.

Some people may also have addictive personalities. They may be addicted to adrenalin, hitting targets or following certain patterns. They can feed such needs in positive ways, rather than negative ways.

William Glasser highlighted this theme in his 1976 book Positive Addiction. He showed how people could channel their energies into running, meditation or other forms of beneficial activities.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you chose to follow a positive addiction.

Describe the specific things you did to follow the positive addiction.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of you following the positive addiction.

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During my early career I worked in programmes for recovering addicts. People who wanted to become healthy sometimes chose to follow a positive addiction rather than a negative addiction.

The first step was for them to commit to adopting a different lifestyle. This called for being prepared to accept both the pluses and minuses involved in the journey. They then needed:

To pursue a positive purpose.

To follow positive patterns.

To get quick successes that acted as positive reinforcement.

Some people may object to this approach. They may say:

“Isn’t that just replacing one addiction with another? Shouldn’t the person be trying to find their true self?”

Sometimes a person can buy time by taking control of their patterns, however, rather than by letting the patterns take control of them. They can establish stability and then learn how to express their true self.

Looking to the future, can you think of a situation when you may want to follow a positive addiction? You may want to eat healthy food rather than bad food, to go for regular walks rather than be sedentary or whatever.

Some people get into the habit of helping others and experience the helper’s high. They get a rush of euphoria by being generous and encouraging others to succeed. Sometimes this becomes a positive addiction.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may choose to follow a positive addiction.

Describe the specific things you can do then to follow the positive addiction.

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of you following the positive addiction.

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