When I say the word “addict,” no doubt certain images come to your mind. You may visualize a homeless, unkempt person or an alcoholic who drinks daily. Then again, I’m sure the only thing you want negative in your life is a drug test. The truth is that there are forms of addiction that are less overtly dramatic, yet damaging nonetheless.

Are you drawn to gambling, social media, work, video games, or food? Hey, I’m going to open a store that sells nothing but bagels and donuts and call it Hole Foods. And remember, that fast food joint’s breakfast for “Under a Dollar” actually costs much more than that. You have to factor in the cost of coronary bypass surgery.

But truly, are those areas manageable for you or do you lean heavily on them in order to cope with life? Without knowing it, you may be trying to block uncomfortable feelings from entering your consciousness. You may even be addicted to cleaning your house if it keeps you from turning into yourself and your emotions. They say: The definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results. I guess I should really stop cleaning this house.

But sincerely, what might you be avoiding? Fear, regret, disappointment, longing, or sadness? You tell yourself, family, or friends that you are simply checking your phone for important emails, or looking over the scores of the game, or going into the office to work late again. Perhaps you have no confidence in your ability to handle whatever is lurking inside your mind.

So, you run to the gym compulsively or bury your head in work, work, work. Listen, I’m looking for a new personal trainer. My last one didn’t work out. I do five sit-ups every day. It may not sound like much, but there’s only so many times you can hit the snooze button. But seriously, you may have tremendous difficulty inhabiting the stretch of time known as the “present.” Our minds tend to always be elsewhere, fretting about the future or regretting the past.

Why is it so terribly difficult for us to be in the moment? We have fond memories and feel nostalgia because we tend to edit the past, my friends. The present, however, contains many possibilities, some of which may seem frightful. Something dreadful could happen at any moment: a tornado, an illness, or a heartbreaking rejection. Hey, I’m writing a book about hurricanes and tornadoes. It’s only a draft at the moment.

However, these thoughts can give rise to feelings of dread or anxiety, which can linger nearly all the time. The truth is that the vast majority of horrible and hideous things do not come to pass. And, of course, when we recall events from our past, we forget how much we anticipated some of them with foreboding and fearfulness.

We often feel ungrateful and ungracious for where we are in life. You may be on a much-needed vacation but can hardly take in the view because you are fretting about something that may or may not happen six months from now. Then again, isn’t your favorite childhood memory your parents paying for your holidays? I Googled my symptoms. Turns out I just needed to go on a vacay. Don’t you need a six-month vacation like twice a year?

But sincerely, he’s not even truly listening to your story because he too is simply incapable of being in the present with you. Please do not wait until your present experience has safely given way to memory. Make an effort to be in the moment: Here. Now.

Do not form a false image or cling to an ideal picture of yourself either. The pathway to self-improvement starts with self-acceptance, sweet friends. Do not reject parts of yourself out of fear or shame.

Try not to remain blocked by doubts, hesitations, and apprehension. If you find yourself ruminating and turning the same thoughts over and over again in your mind, you will find it impossible to progress.

Don’t be loyal to the idea that most things are impossible for you. You need not feel trapped. Do not worry about malice or malevolence that was done to you at one time. Act with emotional freedom in the here and now.

Learning how to be emotionally healthy is not an instinct, my friends. It is a skill. Please practice. Give yourself some tiny treats and, by all means, celebrate small victories. Read about what you love and don’t forget to move your limbs. Then again, if swimming is such a good way to stay in shape, explain whales… But truly, find something satisfying to lose yourself in for a while. Connect with a kind person today.

Do not be at the mercy of outside circumstances. And please do not let others have power over your emotional state. You always have a moral choice, which cannot be taken from you. Disregard what “they” all think of you if it makes you feel unloved or unstable. The strength and ability to form opinions and to make the right decisions is your superpower. Don’t worry about conquering the world, sweet friends. Conquer yourself.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.