We all self-medicate.

One could argue that we are constantly seeking to change our state.

We’re always looking for ways to feel just a little bit (or a lot) more energized, calm, happy, peaceful, numb, alive, focused, creative, open, strong, playful, silly, mystified, or confident.

Sometimes our nervous system just needs a break from all the stress and struggles of life.

Other times we want to feel more powerful and in control.

Whatever it is, it’s a natural part of being alive (other animals do it, too).

And it’s not just popping pills, drinking elixirs, or smoking herbs.

We do it with food, sex (and porn), exercise, work, news, films, social media…

Wait, what?

Okay, think about this. What are you doing when you take a pill or drink a beer?

You’re giving your physiology inputs that create a change in the state of your nervous system and your endocrine system. That’s why you feel different.

And you’re ingesting those things to get a specific outcome.

If I drink this beer I’ll feel relaxed, outgoing, confident, and happy.

Now, many of us are very unconscious in our use of these things. We don’t consciously think about it that way, we just know we like it and feel better when we do it.

I like to joke that I do qigong (meditative movement practices from ancient China—kind of like yoga) because it gets me high.

Well, I joke, but not really. Qigong gets me really high.

It’s not like I’m going to go get in a car accident or make an ass out of myself at a party.

But, it does put me into a buoyant, peaceful, and creative state of mind. Often, I feel a rush of positive feelings and experience a sublime sense that everything’s going to be just fine.

Admit it, if I bottled that and sold it, you might just try it.

How about the runner’s high?

We all know that’s a thing, and lots of people are addicted to it.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not saying that there’s anything inherently wrong with self-medicating.

Caveat: If you have an addiction that is interfering with you having a safe, healthy, and constructive existence, then yes you need to be wary of how you decide to change your state.

Whether it’s chocolate, alcohol, sex, weed, video games, or social media, the important thing is to stay awake (at least going into and choosing the experience).

Don’t check out and go unconscious, on autopilot, when you’re about to imbibe. Know what you’re doing and why.

Recognize your behaviors for what they are.

Are you hiding from some uncomfortable feelings you need to deal with?

Is it that you haven’t set good boundaries at work, so now you’re totally wiped out and just want not feel for a bit?

Often when we are trying to change our state, there is an underlying emotional component.

You will benefit when you can listen to these feelings and adjust your life accordingly.

If you’re always medicated, you could be missing vital feedback from your inner world about something that isn’t working in your life.