How to Quit Video Game Addiction | Accelerated Character Growth
So, my roommate was saying something yesterday that made me think for a long time.
While I was contemplating how to quit video game addiction and improve our individual characters to achieve success and happiness, my roommate’s sudden speech threw a light on my theories of addiction.
I know he doesn’t have video game addiction, nor does he have any games on his pc, but like everyone else, he has other kinds of addiction that he is unaware of.
Before proceeding, I want to clarify something in advance about the definition of addiction.
*If we have negative behavior that we do regularly, few name it as a bad habit and some as addiction.
The intensity of the behavior, the number of repetitions in a time frame, and emotional content make the difference between the two.
The key difference between a habit and an addiction is emotional involvement- repeating the behavior despite knowing the negative consequences, feeling depressed if we quit the behavior for a small period, repeating the behavior because of stress, anxiety, boredom, etc.
Addiction is deep, and habit is just something we do without much thought, like brushing our teeth in the morning or unconsciously biting our nails.
Habit is automatic, and there is not much emotion involved in it.
In my case, I define addiction as behavior that I repeat unwillingly. It doesn’t matter how many times I repeat the behavior in a time frame.
If I am repeating a negative behavior once a year despite knowing that the consequences will be bad, it is an addiction for me.
Why am I doing something that I don’t want to do in the first place?
I am using this aggressive definition of addiction because the negative consequences of negative behaviors grow with time if we don’t stand against it before it is too late.
If I define a negative behavior as addiction in the early stages, I can be aware of the behavior every time I repeat it.
Though this is my mindset, and you are free to choose your own definition because for some, accepting that they have an addiction is scary, and it makes them feel weak.
In my case, I feel stronger to identify my own addiction on my own.
Now, let’s continue with the article…
1. Clarifying Consequences Helps
Clarifying the consequences of video game addiction helps a lot, but this is not enough.
You may already know the consequences of playing excessive video games, but the consequences are not clear in your head.
There is cloudiness on the consequences of playing excessive video games.
You may only realize or understand that this is bad; you shouldn’t play now and instead fulfill your responsibility.
Despite knowing these cloudy consequences, you still play that game because you will not play again from tomorrow.
From tomorrow you will be productive, and you will take steps for your future and become a better person.
From tomorrow everything will be better.
Everyone is a better person tomorrow.
When tomorrow comes, your unconscious brain finds another excuse to postpone your work for the next day.
At the end of the day, you feel guilty for wasting another day.
But, there is nothing to feel guilty about.
This is how our brain supposes to work once we build those neural connections of video games with our reward circuitry.
You are human, and once you repeat a certain behavior repeatedly, you form habits and compulsion for that activity.
It’s not only with gaming.
It goes with everything else like web surfing, social media, pornography viewing, gambling, exercising, relationships, making money, singing, writing, playing the guitar, etc.
But, most of us form negative habits quickly than positive ones.
To quit video game addiction, first, clarify the consequences of playing excessive video games.
Take a notepad and do some research.
Find what will happen if you play video games and also write down the consequences of not playing video games.
What will happen if you don’t play video games.
These will be known as positive consequences.
You can start your research with the following articles:
2. Sense of control
This is perhaps the most important point in quitting video game addiction.
If you understand this, you can quit video game addiction and any other addiction or bad habits.
So, what is this sense of control?
Let’s understand with an example:
- Roy’s current life
Roy, my friend, had many plans for his life. He wants to become a ‘prolific’ writer.
He wants to travel the world and also planning to get married soon.
But, things are not going quite well with his life now.
He has not written a single sentence in the last few months, nor does his relationship with his girlfriend going well.
And, for now, forget about his world tour; he is even struggling to pay his rent.
Roy knew what his problem is.
He everyday wastes 10-12 hours playing video games.
He wants to quit playing and become productive.
He knows the struggle is long, but he has to do it.
He can even quit video games for a day or a week, but eventually, he returns and plays more than before.
According to him, video games release his stress and makes him happy temporarily.
But, of course, at the end of the day, he regrets and goes to sleep with a promise that he will quit video games for good from tomorrow.
So, why didn’t Roy able to quit video games, and why he relapsed over and over again?
Was it because he had low willpower, or was it something else?
To understand the reasons, let’s go back to Roy’s childhood.
Roy’s childhood was not a great one.
His father was a control freak and abusive most of the time. His mother had her sorrow to swallow.
There were constant fights among his parents, and Roy had to hide in his room till the storms were over.
He didn’t know what to do.
He just felt helpless.
This helplessness gave birth to his rage, and worst of all, he couldn’t even express his anger.
He had to keep it inside, tightly sealed in a box.
Moreover, his classmates were not that good to him either.
They bullied him most of the days.
So, he had to find a way to make himself feel good again. To cope with this helplessness, he started smoking cigarettes.
He never left smoking cigarettes till now.
As life progressed, he felt that helplessness and rage in many other situations in his life, and every time he found something else to cope with the helplessness.
This is how his brain got conditioned.
If he has a problem, avoid it and find something to make himself happy.
That’s how most of us operate.
We keep searching for something to make ourselves feel good instead of going through the pain.
This way, we lose the sense of control of our life.
A problem can only be solved by facing the problem- not by smoking or playing video games.
Once Roy realized this, he started focusing on his problems instead of running away from them.
Of course, in the beginning, it was too difficult.
He felt depressed, raged, stressed, etc., but that was what he signed up for.
He was supposed to feel those emotions because he is facing the problems now.
His sense of control over his life started to return.
3. Facing the Problem/ Video Game Addiction
“When you confront a problem you begin to solve it.”- Rudy Giuliani
We all can face problems, and sooner or later, we all have to face our problems in life.
No one can escape his fate.
But, if you face the problem on time, the problem converts into an opportunity.
Most of the time, the problem seems much bigger until we confront it.
Once we start to confront our daily problems, we become focused on our life.
Our brain starts getting rewire again.
The older loop of substituting our problems starts to get weaker.
We don’t play video games to escape reality anymore because solving the problem gives more happiness than the temporary pleasure of dominating the virtual world.
But, this is easier said than done.
Perhaps, after reading this article, you decide to quit video game addiction for good and start facing your daily problems from now on.
That’s the voice of your motivation.
It never lasts.
Perhaps after a few days, you will crave that hidden quest or your online dominance because you were somebody in there.
You had a sense of self-worth in the digital world, but now you feel sad and depressed after quitting.
Moreover, this motivation will wear off sooner or later, and your cycle of uninstalling and installing video games continues.
So, what’s, is the solution?
No matter how addicted our brains are, some people got clean from drug use, broke their pornography addiction, quit gaming, quit smoking, and rebuilt their lives from scratch.
How did they do it?
By developing a strong character.
You can try all the things you want to achieve in your life, but it can never be more than the strength of your character.
Once you start to focus on your character development, you attract success automatically.
A strong character can face his daily problems and keep advancing in his life.
4. How to develop a strong character?
No matter where you are in your life now, you can always become better, and this is a universal truth.
In this stage of your life, you don’t trust yourself, you don’t believe in yourself, and the negative thinking is clouding your mind everyday.
But there is a small voice inside you that knows your worth, and because of this, you are searching for answers.
Because of this, you are reading this article.
Because you want to get better, you want to quit your video game addiction or any other addiction you have and fulfill your responsibilities everyday.
If you are doing this, then congratulation; you are already halfway.
Most of us don’t even know what we are doing with our lives.
We wake up, do the same unproductive things everyday, play video games and go back to sleep.
This is not conscious living.
This is living a mechanical life on autopilot without any purpose.
For those who are reading this article and want to quit video game addiction and become productive in life- I want them to focus on 4 key personalities that they have to train everyday.
Practice is everything. To rewire your brain, you need to repeat the same behavior after regular intervals.
Don’t worry; one of the personality traits is the ability to practice. (more on below)
Once you start your journey on developing these personalities, you will see remarkable benefits in your life.
You will quit your video game addiction, become productive, your self-respect will start to grow, your self-discipline will start to grow, and you will become mentally stronger than before.
You will develop a strong character that can meet all the demands of realities.
A. Improving Consciousness.
Next time when you are in front of your desktop and about to double click on your favorite video game, just give it five seconds and close your eyes.
Do you feel the pull? Do you feel the craving? Your judging capacity has gone down now, that’s what dopamine does, and that is normal.
You know the consequences of playing, but that’s okay because it’s only one day.
You also know that it is not only one day.
There is a constant fight between your conscious and subconscious brain.
You need to make decisions; you need to decide because if you don’t, the world will end.
Breaking news, you don’t need to make any decisions for now.
The pull of your brain to play video games is normal; that’s how our brains work.
If you are repeating an activity everyday, your wired brain is supposed to develop that craving.
But, that doesn’t mean you have to accept or deny those cravings.
You can just experience the pull.
Close your eyes and try to feel it.
The rush you were experiencing will go down, and your judging ability will start to come back again.
Because cravings never last longs.
Again, Without practice, it won’t be easy to experience the pull everyday.
So, you need to train your brain to understand your emotions to regulate them everyday.
How to train your brain? I will explain after the 4 points.
B. Small practice
My work is based on small practice.
I have written it repeatedly in most of my articles about what small practice is and how it forms new habits.
If you want to learn more about small practice, follow the below link:
Form Productive Habits that Stick Permanently | Small Practices
The key point of small practice is practicing small. It is that simple.
You don’t need to plan for an 8 hours study marathon.
8 hours of study will demand a tremendous amount of motivation or willpower. You need to have one or another to perform that action.
But, we don’t have that amount of willpower nor motivation.
If you could read 8 hours for a few days because of strong motivation, it will wear off. Again, motivation never lasts.
This affects your self-respect and discipline once you fail to meet your goals.
But, you don’t need much willpower or motivation to study for five minutes.
Once you meet your commitment for 5 minutes, you will feel good, and that will give rise to your intrinsic motivation.
That intrinsic motivation can carry you more than an hour or two or sometimes more than your 8-hour goal.
Small practice is difficult to understand, and it is not as simple as sounds.
So, please read the above article to understand it better.
But, how small practice help us breaking our video game addiction?
Playing video games is a substitute for our real productivity because we don’t feel like working.
Of course, video game addiction decreases our interest and joy from other activities, just like other internet addictions.
And therefore, not feeling productive and procrastinating is normal.
But, once you start applying small practice, you will reignite your old interest slowly and become much happier over time.
Moreover, once you quit video games, your interest in smaller activities returns on its own because your dopamine starts to balance back.
C. Developing Patience
I have a lot of patience- that’s what we all say.
We think we have patience because we are waiting for a long time to be accepted by our loved ones, to make more money, waiting to travel the world, or waiting patiently for our favorite t.v program.
But, this is not patience. This is just waiting because we don’t have any other options.
There is always this rush and excitement that goes inside the mind of a gamer.
Developing patience means slowing down that rush.
If we stop playing video games for some time, there will be emotional turmoils inside us.
The constant fight between conscious and subconscious minds will make us exert, and we all know who wins at the end.
Once you develop patience, you can accept the craving. You will understand that there is no need to decide, and it is okay to feel this strong pull.
This is just a moment of your life that you don’t like, and it is okay.
This moment cannot be skipped or pass before its time. You have to experience it.
A person who remains calm in stormy weather has a better chance of survival.
Next time, when the urge for the video game hits you, remain calm and patient and observe the emotions you are having.
It will pass.
We all want to do things in every moment of our life.
Remaining inactive for a second seems impossible, and yet, we achieve far less than our potential.
Video game addicts are always in a rush. They develop other impulsive behavior as well, like surfing Instagram for hours, watching twitch or youtube, eating junk food.
They are always in the search for quick rewards or, in other words, high dopamine hits.
They also want to be productive, learn guitars, read books, write stories, or record a song.
But they end up doing nothing.
So, what if you stop striving for a minute.
You don’t need to be productive or successful for a minute.
You don’t need to dominate those ‘noobs’ in your video game.
It is okay to stop this chase and observe the surroundings, your ideas, and thoughts without any biased judgment.
You are, at this moment, reading this article, and you are already here.
You are not in the future, nor in the past but in the present, and can do nothing except to live in this moment.
Because you only have moments to live by.
Once you stop striving, you will achieve more than all the constant hard pushes you did early in your life.
But, this is not easy, and it will take time to develop.
How to develop these four qualities- Consciousness, Small practice, Patience, and non-striving.
The answer is mindfulness meditation.
5. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness mediation can solve all of your addictive or impulsive problems in your life, as it did for many others.
The sole purpose of mindfulness meditation is to live a conscious life.
There are hundreds of benefits of mindfulness mediation, but the most significant benefit I experienced is the sense of control of my life.
A person who can trust his brain and can take decisions and actions can have all the success and happiness in his life.
He will acknowledge the impulses or cravings of his subconscious mind, but that doesn’t mean he will follow them.
He will know what is right, and he will do the right thing at the right time.
Mindfulness meditation strengthens your prefrontal cortex, the front lobe of your brain- the conscious brain.
This is not an article on mindfulness meditation, but most of this article is based on the experience of mindfulness mediation.
In mindfulness meditation, you don’t need to focus on a candle or a specific object and strive to control your mind.
In mindfulness meditation, you are just there and observe moment by moment of your life.
You don’t make decisions or become biased to your liking or disliking.
You are just experiencing your emotions, your breath, and your thoughts.
You will become impatient, and your untrained mind will cry to stop this madness and start doing something; otherwise, you will miss your opportunity, but your meditative mind just observes this cry.
It doesn’t shut down the voice or try to calm it down.
It only observes.
The crying mind will become quiet on its own.
This practice will reflect in your video game addiction.
Your brain will cry to play that game for just one more time, but you now know that you don’t need to make any decisions; you just need to observe.
The more you will practice this, every morning, for 10-20 minutes at least, the stronger your character will become.
To understand more about mindfulness practice- the best book I have read so far is given below:
So, my roommate told me, it is our job to deal with this stress and depression and all the cravings because we have chosen to become better.
There are billions of people who don’t know what they are doing with their life.
They can’t even find their passion or failing to go through the right road.
My roommate said I should feel lucky that I know what I am doing with my life.
Of course, the road will be difficult, and there will be more hindrances in the future, not just video games, but at the end of the day, I have to walk through this path.
Success comes at the cost of our sacrifices we make through the journey.
If you are lost, unable to quit video game addiction- then increase your knowledge on this subject.
Read more books on quitting video game addiction, watch videos, join forums, subreddits, etc., to rewire your brain.
Start mindfulness meditation from today.