If you don’t partake in any of these activities and sometimes feel out of control, you are a far more evolved human being than I am. I call the over usage of all these pleasurable activities - “buffering”.
We do these things to avoid our negative emotions – sadness, boredom, shame, anxiety, fear and even restlessness. We use the activities as a distraction from the discomfort of these emotions.
When we drink wine, check Facebook, eat chocolate, go shopping and binge on Netflix our brain gets a little hit of dopamine. Our brain is designed to seek that response and it wants another hit, only this time it wants more! This is how desire is created. And when we answer our desire, the desire only gets stronger. Meanwhile our brain likes to be efficient and so once this pattern has repeated itself again and again it becomes automatic. It becomes so automatic that eventually we don’t even notice having the thought. One minute we are sitting on the couch and the next minute we realise that we have demolished a chocolate bar. At least that’s how it was for me!
Thankfully there is a solution to this problem and I am going to share it with you. I’ve used it to end my chocolate addiction.
Have you heard of Pavlov’s Dogs? It’s based on the same theory. Pavlov would ring a bell before feeding his dogs. He created a routine – ring the bell, feed them, ring the bell feed them… You get the idea. Then Pavlov would ring the bell and his dogs would salivate but he stopped giving them food. So he created a new routine – ring the bell, dogs salivate and don’t get fed, ring the bell, dogs salivate and don’t get fed. He did this until the dogs stopped salivating at the sound of the bell and he realised he had extinguished their desire.
We can use the same philosophy to curb our desire. So in the case of chocolate, I simply allowed the urge. Instead of answering the urge to eat chocolate, instead fighting the urge to eat it, I allowed it. All that means is acknowledging that I want it, noticing the physical sensations of the urge and then not answering the urge – not eating chocolate. I did this over and over again until now, I am literally sitting at my desk trying to conjure up the desire to eat chocolate at will and there is NOTHING! I eat chocolate sometimes. Sometimes I use my pre frontal cortex to plan a joy eat in advance. There is no guilt and I enjoy every morsel. And there have been occasions when I cave and just gorge myself on chocolate cake, several days in a row. When that happens, I just plan to have my own back. I ask myself what went wrong and recommit to not answering those urges. The skill that you need to develop, is being able to sit in the discomfort of your own emotions and once you can do that, you can do ANYTHING!
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