Do you feel like everybody around you is always in some kind of crisis? Do you feel like you are always “on call” for your loved ones? Are you the one who everybody calls whenever something difficult happens? Do you feel like it’s your job to always be available for anybody who needs you, no matter what you have going on in your life? Does it seem like your life is a little boring compared to everybody you always have to jump in to help?
If you answered yes to these questions, you have an addiction to chaos. Well, that might be something that you don’t want to hear or acknowledge. Nobody wants to hear that they have an addiction to chaos. Why is that? The reason is that you truly believe that you are just helping the people who need you. Isn’t helping others something that is important? Shouldn’t we always help others?
Yes, helping others is important. Many in our society use an addiction to chaos as easily as an addiction to substances. Always being available for others is not healthy though. Stay with me here. Don’t quit reading because I think you can begin to understand what I am explaining. You might also learn how all of this affects you in a negative way. Trust me, an addiction to chaos is something that so many people have but are incredibly unaware of it.
Negative Impact of Always Rescuing Others with an Addiction to Chaos
Society rewards people who are always jumping in to rescue those who need help. We commend people who give and give until they have nothing left. Don’t you feel good when you’re the “go-to” person for others? There will be more blog posts later on the harm in always rescuing people later. Understand that this is absolutely an addiction to chaos. Think about how many times you have seen people who stop whatever they are doing to always “be there” for others. Hello, addiction to chaos!
Now, please don’t get confused and think I’m referring to major and rare situations. That is absolutely ok to do. What I am referring to is those who spend more time “helping” others than they do anything else, especially time to take care of themselves.
Why might this be a negative thing? There are two answers to this question. The first is that when we are always available for others then, we are never available for ourselves. The second is that we have created a codependent relationship, which is never healthy. If you are still having a difficult time connecting these behaviors to addiction, just bear with me.
Others’ Addiction to Chaos Creates Chaos for Us
Here’s an example. Julie, your sister, is almost always calling you because something “major” has happened. Every few days there is something major that happens and Julie needs you to rescue her. One day it might be that Julie can’t find her car keys and is going to be late to work, unless you come pick her up to take her to work.
This affects you because you arrive to work late now because you went to help Julie. A few days later Julie tells you that her boss said she would be fired if she continues to be late to work. Julie tells you that she sets alarms to wake up most of the time, but sometimes forgets. She also tells you that she accidentally turns her alarm off and goes back to sleep, instead of getting up in time to get to work.
You have a solution because you want to help Julie and you believe she truly “needs” your help. Your solution is that you wake up thirty minutes earlier every day to call Julie until she actually answers to make sure she’s awake. After the first call, you call every five to ten minutes to make sure she is actually up and getting ready for work. Often, she goes back to sleep and turns her phone off.
Added Stress from “Helping” Others
Now, you have started your day off with a lot of added stress because you have decided you’re responsible for making sure Julie doesn’t lose her job. You really believe that it is your job to help Julie. She had a problem that she said she couldn’t solve that would result in her being fired. To you, the solution was easy. Make sure Julie gets up on time every day to get to work.
This type of “rescuing” results in both reasons I mentioned as to why this is a negative thing for you. First, you are now losing thirty minutes of valuable sleep every day. Also, every single day now begins with stress as you made it your “job” to make sure Julie doesn’t lose her job.
Second, you have created a codependent relationship with Julie. That is never positive. Being somebody’s rescuer makes us feel good as we believe we are helping. Also, we believe that nobody else would be willing to help Julie the way we are. Again, when that belief takes shape, we feel good because we are “needed.” This codependent relationship prevents Julie from being able to figure out how to help herself. It also illustrates that both you and Julie have an addiction to chaos.
Inviting Chaos into Your Life
Honesty is needed here. How many people in your life are similar to Julie who need you? What kinds of things have you done similar to the above, in the name of helping? Does your stress come from the chaos of other’s life that in reality, you had no part in creating?
If so, then we need to look at your addiction to chaos. I’m sure that you have probably said that your life is boring. Probably, you think that because your life is uneventful, that you have time and mental space to always be available to others with chaotic lives. Danger! Danger! Those thoughts are far from true because you are actually have an addiction to chaos yourself.
Why might I say that you too have an addiction to chaos and not just the “Julies” in your life? Well, that’s because of your belief that your life is boring. So, you subconsciously invite people with an addiction to chaos into your life because for some reason it fuels you. Are you thinking this sounds crazy right now? Who wants to invite anybody with an addiction to chaos into their lives causing them chaos?
Well, you probably do but again that is subconscious. If you were truly at peace with your life, then your subconscious would not invite those with an addiction to chaos into your life. Curiosity might be setting in as to why I say this is an addiction.
Why Chaos is an Addiction?
Scientists and researchers are the ones who can explain what addiction does to the brain. Therefore, I will leave that to them. However, those “feel good” happenings in the brain that come with substance abuse are the same ones that get ignited in people when the hint of chaos arises or a person with an addiction to chaos appears in your life. It feels good to be needed and many of us rely on the chaos of others to get that “feel good” stuff kicking in our brains.
Remember how I said that you probably believe that you have a boring life? There’s the problem. That is the root of your addiction to chaos! It is often difficult for us to find pleasure in the simplicity of life. You may have had a traumatic childhood, which caused you to want what you call a “boring life.”
However, that traumatic childhood wired your brain to need that stimulation that shows up in the form of an addiction to chaos. If you can relate to trauma in your childhood, think about the times that everything was calm in your house. Was that scary for you because you knew the calm wasn’t going to last? Is this beginning to make a little more sense for you now?
Childhood Trauma and Addiction to Chaos
Childhood trauma has caused you to not feel peace when things are peaceful. Instead, peace is anxiety inducing because your brain was wired to believe that chaos was always just around the corner. All the “stuff” in your brain got used to needing chaos because that was what you were used to as a child.
Sadly, that chaos actually caused the “feel good” stuff in your brain to get activated because you knew what to do with chaos. You felt safe when chaos was present in your house because you learned your value was in problem-solving to survive the chaos.
Adulthood resulted in you consciously preventing yourself from having a chaotic life. However, subconsciously, your brain still needs that chaos. That is the reason that you are always available for the chaos of others. It feeds the “feel good” stuff in your brain.
Healing that is hard and requires setting boundaries with the people who always need you to solve their chaotic lives. Hera are a few ways to begin setting those boundaries.
How to Set Boundaries for People with an Addiction to Chaos:
- Let them know that you are working on yourself in regards to creating more time for self-care. The reason for this is that you are aware that you have been neglecting yourself.
- Explain that you will not be as available as you have been in the past due to reason number one.
- Communicate that you still have love for them and you care for them, but you are learning to prioritize love for yourself.
- Set aside a few times a week in which you will be available to them.
- Stick to those times!
- Set aside at least one, consistent time a week where you turn your phone off and practice self-care.
As you begin to follow these steps, be kind to yourself. Often, you may feel as though you are abandoning these people. That is not the truth at all. It’s actually quite the opposite. When you create more time for yourself, you will actually be more mentally available when they truly need you. Take a moment to think about this being an addiction to chaos. If the person were addicted to meth, would you continue supplying the meth, knowing that it could be the dose to kill them? No! By setting these boundaries you are stepping out of your addiction to chaos. Just remember that others with an addiction to chaos also have to choose to heal and you cannot force them to do so.
In conclusion, you have more work to do other than just setting these boundaries in order to heal your addiction to chaos. What might that work be? Remember how I mentioned that you feel like your life is boring or would be without the people who need you to solve their chaotic lives?
The work you need to do is learning how to be ok with a peaceful life, minus the addiction to chaos. Just because that sounds simple, does not mean that it’s easy to do. I recommend finding a licensed therapist who can help guide you through your childhood trauma that left you inviting chaos into your life.
To read more blog posts about what society has gotten wrong, click here.