What Are Soft Addictions?
The term soft addiction is fairly new, and it can be misleading or even offensive to people with true addictions. A soft addiction is not really an addiction at all. It’s more like a bad habit, but like a true addiction, these bad habits can keep you from living a satisfying, happy and meaningful life. Consider the times during the day in which you zone out and try to de-stress. Maybe it’s when you lose an hour on Facebook or you sit down to watch a half-hour TV show and don’t get up for two hours. These moments are made up of soft addictions and they are preventing you from living your best life.
Soft Addiction vs. Real Addiction
A soft addiction can best be compared to a behavioral addiction. A true behavioral addiction occurs when you compulsively engage in some kind of activity. Let’s use shopping as an example. If you have a real addiction to shopping, you spend most of your time thinking about it. You spend hours each day shopping online. Your finances are in the tank because you get out of control when you shop. You try to ease off, but you can’t
If your shopping habit is more of a soft addiction, on the other hand, you aren’t out of control. It’s probably something you do to relax or escape from the day’s stresses. You might spend a half hour online browsing a couple days a week, or you spend Saturday afternoons at the mall buying a couple of new outfits. You spend more than you should, but you aren’t going into debt and you don’t feel out of control.
Recognizing Your Soft Addictions
Soft addictions are insidious and hard to recognize. Think of the times during the day when you engage in an activity mindlessly. It could be spending time online, watching TV, reading celebrity magazines or even gossiping with coworkers. These habits aren’t always bad. Some amount of mindless activity is helpful for coping with stress. But when you lose too much time to them, you need to make a change. Pick out what you think might be your soft addictions and then record how much time you spend on them, how they make you feel, and what you could have been doing instead that would have been more rewarding.
Changing Your Behaviors
When you start to recognize your soft addictions, you will begin to realize you are wasting time on meaningless things. You’re on Facebook when you should be productive at work. You’re watching mindless reality TV when you should be connecting with your partner. Changing these habits won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding. Start by setting time limits. When you sit down to watch those reruns you’ve seen a million times already, give yourself half an hour to relax and then turn the TV off.
At the end of your time limit, find something better to do, and make sure it isn’t another mindless bad habit. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Have dinner with your partner and have a meaningful conversation. Get started on that home project you’ve been putting off. Do something creative, like painting or writing. Read a piece of classic literature. The key is to do something meaningful.
When you start noticing your soft addictions and begin replacing them with more meaningful activities, you will realize just how rewarding it is to make these changes. Soft addictions try to fill holes in our lives, but they fail, and they can turn into true addictions. Be aware and start making changes now for a better life.
Read More About Behavioral Addictions