What is the symptom of the problem and what is the real problem? How can you differentiate between the two? What is real and what isn’t?
Contrary to popular belief, the real problem is neither the drugs you take nor the alcohol you drink to make yourself feel good. It is not the food you eat for comfort. Neither is it the video games, gambling, sex, or risky behaviors you engage in during your pursuit of pleasure. The real problem is not the excessive shopping, the unscrupulous accumulation of massive wealth, or the cheap and popular unhealthy fast food that you can’t get enough of.
Although these addictive behaviors can cause problems by affecting lives in negative ways, they are not even close to being the problem at the heart of your lack of real and lasting happiness. None of the substances, behaviors, or activities you use to feel good will ever address or resolve the real problem because they are just symptoms of the real problem.
Make no mistake, the behaviors and activities you engage in to make yourself feel better, no matter how many consequences they create, will often give you the illusion of feeling good only because you feel less bad.
So what in the world is the real problem? The real problem is that you have been taught to be other-dependent. You have been taught to depend upon someone or something outside of yourself to have self-esteem, to feel good, and to be happy for real. It’s sad but true that it is impossible to feel good about yourself for real when you are other-dependent. This is true no matter how much you try to make yourself believe that someone’s praise, compliments, or applause, enough of the right stuff, social or financial status, an accomplishment, a success, or a Harvard degree makes you feel good about yourself.
Oh sure, you may have fleeting moments of happiness here and there, but nothing that lasts. You might be able to fool yourself into thinking you feel good when your addictive behaviors distort your thinking, which they often do. You can even pretend you feel good about yourself, and you can certainly fool others, but you will always know the truth. When you don’t feel good about yourself from the inside-out, you don’t feel good for real period.