Are you like Barb? Barb has a few guilty pleasures she loves. When she comes home at night – particularly after a tough day – she clicks on TV as soon as she comes in “to help her unwind.” While half-listening to whatever’s on, she reads her mail.

Barb gets lots of catalogs and spends the next twenty minutes just thumbing through them, daydreaming about dresses and things for her home. After dinner, she goes online to check her email and ends up dreamily surfing the net for an hour or two, drifting from site to site. Finally, feeling sort of zoned out, Barb goes to bed after “just another relaxing evening at home.”
Or is it?

Barb would defend her routines as perfectly ordinary – which may be the problem. Many of us are caught in similar patterns, called “soft addictions.” Soft addictions are seemingly harmless habits like over-shopping, watching too much TV, surfing the net for hours, procrastinating and even gossiping.

Done in moderation, such activities are relatively innocuous. It’s when we overdo them (like overeating) or use them for more than their intended purpose (like compulsively checking email instead of logging on periodically to communicate necessary information) that we start losing time, money and quality of life to our soft addictions without knowing it. Their costs are insidious, but soft addictions rob our lives of meaning and fulfillment.

For instance, Jackie used to be a mall rat. She spent her Saturdays wandering among stores meeting people she called friends, sometimes buying things but mostly looking. She also watched tons of television and read several newspapers each morning to make sure she stayed “in the know.” She spent her remaining free time constantly perusing catalogs, reading cookbooks, and planning what she was going to buy or eat so that she could have something to look forward to.

As much as she would have said that she enjoyed these activities, Jackie also felt increasingly dissatisfied. It seemed as if she was spending her life waiting for something to happen. That dissatisfaction is a clue that an activity is a soft addiction. Other clues are:

• Zoning out. Although you’re physically engaged in the activity, your mind is elsewhere.

• Avoiding feelings. You use an activity or mood to escape deeper feelings of sadness, anger or joy that are uncomfortable.

• Compulsiveness. You have an irresistible urge to indulge in a behavior, feeling powerless to curb it.

• Denial/rationalization. You make excuses for or lie about your soft addiction, feeling deeply defensive if anyone questions it.

How can you start confronting your soft addictions? There are eight key skills for loosening their grip. And while it’s unlikely you’ll ever eliminate all your soft addictions forever (since they’re so normal), you can use these skills to start making better choices.

The first step is to make the “One Decision.” The “One Decision” is your commitment to live more consciously each day – to go for fulfilling your deeper hungers instead of surface wants. The “One Decision” gives you a benchmark for deciding if what you’re doing in any moment leads toward the life you want.

Then you can begin applying another skill – the Math of More. The Math of More says to add activities that create fulfillment and subtract activities that don’t. You’ll find that adding real nourishment to your life naturally weakens your soft addictions. Conversely, subtracting or curbing your soft addictions will automatically add more time, resources and consciousness to your life.

For example, Jackie began applying the Math of More and saw a change. She still read compulsively each morning, but added good fiction and books about the soul to her diet of news. She still watched television, but gradually shifted to watching only programs that really interested her. She still went to the mall, but just to buy something she needed. She also began playing beautiful music to start her day.

Jackie didn’t try to give up any of her soft addictions cold turkey. Rather, she started limiting the time and energy she gave them. At the same time, she added activities that were inspiring and nourishing. Gradually, Jackie changed her life, creating more satisfaction.

Our soft addictions cost us, but they also tell us what we need to overcome them. We often don’t see the deeper hungers – to love and be loved, to matter, to connect with others and express who we are – underneath our surface urges to gossip, overeat, overspend or lose ourselves in cyberspace. Yet when we finally embrace our underlying needs, we’re better able to seek the life, love and meaning we crave. There is more in life – and you can have it by overcoming your soft addictions and creating a life of more.

Author's Bio: 

Want to discover more about the proven program that has helped hundreds of people overcome their soft addictions and live more satisfying lives? Best-selling author, speaker, educator, and life coach Judith Wright has written There Must Be More Than This: Finding More Life, Love and Meaning by Overcoming Your Soft Addictions. For information, please visit:, call 1-866-MORE-YOU or email

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