Recently I was watching an interview with two medical professionals talking about various subjects and one of the subjects they touched on was the chemical in the brain called Dopamine.
In brief, one of the properties of dopamine is it can trigger feelings of pleasure and if overdosed can lead to behaviours that repeatedly trigger dopamine to be released, this cycle eventually leads to addiction and depression. Other studies have shown addiction to be the cause of lack of connection rather than it being genetic or random and from personal experience I agree with this. The more isolated I became in the gaming the more addicted to the gaming I became and the more depressed I became. But, what if our lack of connection in the first place is what leads us to seek ‘something’ to try and fill this emptiness?
Another mention in the interview was that social media (and again from experience I can put video gaming into the same basket here) was NOT a means of connecting to others but actually disconnects us from true connection. Anyone can see this in a person who after gaming becomes very anti-social and withdrawn and the longer they play the more withdrawn they become. Even small children with the iPhone nanny, if you take it away from them they are not their bright and shiny true selves anymore but a dulled down, hyper or emotionally charged being.
It was this withdrawal and isolation that I wanted to go into detail with in this part of the Gaming and Relationships blog. It can be very distressing to see someone going deeper and deeper into this form of self-abuse and disregard, of someone who is a naturally sensitive person, so I feel to share my experience in support for those who find themselves in this situation, both as the person playing video games and the onlooker.
For those playing games
Stop for a moment and connect. Feel how your body feels after gaming, how you feel when around others after gaming or not having played games. I am not saying this will be pretty but facing the tension can support the healing of the tension whereas avoiding it only prolongs it’s existence.
The more we game the less committed to life we become the more stressed we become in life, which can lead to wanting to relax more with gaming. It’s a vicious downward spiral of abuse. Committing to life isn’t a big deal and it starts by doing one thing consistently every day. Like making the bed, washing your face or going bathroom when you need to and not hold on.
For the onlooker
Connecting to ourselves, learning to breathe our own breath allows you to not react to the actions of the other. A great place to start is The Gentle Breath Meditation, a short but super powerful way to bring ourselves back to feeling steady and stable rather than caught in the buzz of life or caught in emotions.
Expecting the other person to change because you want them to does not help. Expectations are like judgments that cause tension, stress and abuse in relationships and drives the person further into the gaming. Learning to accept the situation and the person, and not needing the other to be a certain way for and with you is not easy, and requires commitment, acceptance, and allowing, and this starts with accepting, loving and being connected to ourselves. Just as one person may need a game if we need them it’s the same thing.
Connect to the person, face to face when you can, let them see and feel that you really care and are interested in them as a person, that you accept and love them exactly as they are. Their withdrawn behaviours are not them, if you can see and feel past that then there is an inroad to building a deeper relationship.
Both of these lists are beneficial for each side as in truth there is no ‘gamer and non-gamer’ sides. We are all on the same side as it were just that our behaviours may differ and some have a more noticeable affect than others. This is down to how willing are we to be sensitive and aware of how our behaviours and choices affect us and those around us? Very obviously we can say that a person using Meth for example will have very destructive relationships around them, but a person playing video games, is it really any better when we start to allow ourselves to feel how that withdrawal and isolation impacts on daily life, how that slowly degrades relationships?
When we open ourselves up to feeling we come across a lot in life that hurts, from our own behaviours, to those of others. But as we start to reconnect to ourselves, start to introduce gentleness and self-care and self-love into our lives it starts to become apparent that those hurtful behaviours are not us as we can simply choose to be gentle, tender and loving. In this we start to see that the withdrawal is not us and not the other person as well.