Addicted to Feeling Bad


Sisyphus by Franz von Stuck


To me all addictions and habits are a mix of benefit and detriment, and sometimes telling the difference between which part is beneficial and which is detrimental is tricky, especially if you listen to other people’s opinions and judgments about something and their words become louder than your own.

Taking the word of others as being the final say could also fall under the category of addiction. They may be right, they may seem wise, authoritative, an expert, they’ve done the work of researching, studying and thinking, they’ve had the experience, been there done that, and are now sharing their opinion, loudly and proudly.

Maybe you agree with them based on your own experience and thought.

But if you agree with them because they share their words with forceful conviction, making you feel that they know more than you do, more than you will ever know on your own, thinking, feeling and experiencing for yourself, then in some ways you are giving your mind over to them and their words become an addiction. You have to keep filling your mind with their teachings. When you don’t listen to them, don’t hear their voice in your head, their knowledge starts to seep out of your mind, everything you’ve learned from them starts to fade, your own voice begins to get louder and perhaps you don’t like what it is saying so you have to drown it out again.

Most addictions start fairly innocuously. We try something, it makes us feel good, we enjoy it, and want some more of that feeling. The more we do it the better we feel. However at some point we find that the feel good factor changes in quality. We feel good but we also feel bad. We don’t like feeling bad, in fact the reason we liked the thing to which we are addicted was because it pushed away our bad feelings. But now they are back.


We try upping our dose of our addictive substance. Maybe the extra dose gives us a return to good feeling, but the levels are not high enough and the span of time it lasts is short. We begin to hate the addiction we love because it is letting us down. We consider abandoning it and finding something else. But we don’t find something else and return to our addiction, but now we begrudge it. It has a hold over us and we are no longer doing it for the same reasons we did it before. We’re doing it because we have to not because we want to.

At that point we may become aware that other people think the thing to which we are addicted is bad. This makes us feel bad, worse, about ourselves, thus craving our addiction’s feel good element even more. We are torn between our love and hate, our good feelings and bad feelings.

What are we really addicted to?

Are we after the high of feeling good? To escape feeling bad?

Or are we addicted to feeling bad? Because in spite of all the opportunities we have to feel good about ourselves, we return to the bad feeling time and again, even though we know how bad it is for us and how destructive it makes us, to ourselves and to others.

And what price are we willing to pay to feel good? What price are we willing to make others pay for us to feel good?

Have you ever stood between an addict and the substance to which they are addicted? Have you seen that burning flame in their eye? The stony expression of determination to pass through you to get to their goal? The snarl on their lips which tells you they are going to eat their way through you to get what they want and so desperately need?

Have you ever smoked a cigarette in front of an ex-smoker, drunk alcohol in the company of a recovering alcoholic, said something negative near the ears of a positive thinker?

There are quite a few similarities of behaviour and expression between those who are addicted to something and those on a mission to do something good such as fight addiction. The road to hell definitely seems paved with good intentions, sometimes it seems paved with the bodies of those who had the good intentions of others forced upon them, but are those intentions really good? What lies behind their veneer of good?

I had an interaction with someone who was brimming with good intentions. They turned up in my life, told me that they were going to heal me because this was their gift, then they got angry at me, told me that I was not as good as I thought I was, that I was a bad person and they had unmasked me, they knew this intuitively and so I could not argue with it because they were an intuitive genius. So, their version of healing me was wounding me.

Why were they angry with me? They took something I said about someone else personally. I didn’t say it to them. They were not in my conscious awareness when I said it. I was working through an old incident out loud in a public place. And it took me a while to figure out what exactly it was that I had said which they had decided was about them and aimed at them. It had to do with those who pretend to be interested in you so that you’ll be interested in them.

Then I asked myself why would they take this personally and why did it cut them to the quick.

Because they saw a truth about themselves in those words, an uncomfortable truth. They realised that they were not interested in me, but that they wanted me to be interested in them to the point where everything about me became about them.

They were on a mission to heal me, even though they knew nothing about me. They did not know if I had a wound, although most people do and I am not an exception. I am open about my wounds, but they were not open to my openness. They did not know what the nature of my wound was, nor did they care to know. I did not invite them to heal my wound, it did not even occur to me to do such a thing. But they were not interested in what I wanted or needed, or who I was. They were a healer and healing is what they did. More than that, they were projecting their own wound into me and that was the wound they intended to heal. What they actually did was stab me in my actual wound by doing what they did. Which ultimately has been a healing experience, but not in the way they intended.

If you’ve read some of my other posts, then you know what my wound is, well one of many, but the main one. I am a child of Narcissists. Being told that I am not as good as I think I am, that I am actually a bad person, and so much worse than that… is par for the course. That the person who usually says that sort of thing does not know who I am and what I think of myself, and does not care to know is also typical.

Was this person a Narcissist, had I attracted yet another one? No. They did mimic Narcissistic behaviour but they did not feel like a Narcissists feels. There was a sense of censorship, but it was not oppressive. We talked this incident through and sorted it out to some degree. You can’t do that with a Narcissist.

This person is a good person with good intentions, however those good intentions for me were a road to hell. One I’ve been to often enough to find my way out of it, each time a little quicker. The problem with their good intentions is that they were motivated by a need to escape feeling bad about themselves… and that’s exactly what happened when they took my words about someone else, about myself and my own experiences, and made them about them. They used me to make themselves feel bad, and once they felt bad about themselves they had to make me feel bad about myself. Their pain took over and did the talking for them.

I do actually think that they have the potential to be a gifted healer just not in the way they think they should do it. They are a talented wordsmith and if they shared their writing, their words would do the healing, as the words of others often speak to the unspoken parts of us and express what we have been unable to express. Their words become our words. Their gift of healing becomes our gift for healing ourselves.

Anything and everything can be an addiction. Anything and everything can be beneficial and detrimental. It is sometimes both at the same time. An addiction can open up a part of ourselves which is suppressed, release us, and that release makes us feel good. But then our inhibitions react to our release and upgrade their security system, which means we need higher doses of our addiction to free us from feeling bad. Our addiction to feeling bad spurs us to find ways to feel good, so it is beneficial, but it is also detrimental because feeling good becomes the addiction on top of an addiction rather than a cure for the original addiction.

How do we cure our addiction to feeling bad?

It’s different for each of us, but the formula is similar. Stay with the feeling, look at it straight on rather than trying to avert your eyes and escape it, and figure out what it really is.

What made you feel bad about yourself? And is that which you feel bad about, really bad? Or did someone else’s good intention lead you into your own private hell? Did someone else pass their wound into you? Did they make you feel bad about yourself because they felt bad about themselves? Did they take something good about you and convince you it was bad?

Maybe all the bad feeling really is, is the knowledge that you are wrong about it. It’s not bad, it’s sad. It’s your inner voice wishing to be heard over the loud voices of others inside your head which are drowning it out. It wants to tell you something but you’re not listening because you think it wants to say something awful to you about yourself, when perhaps all it wants to say is – I love you, please love yourself too.