Oh ho ho. 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 all of these activities “buffering”.
We do these things to avoid our negative emotions – sadness, boredom, shame, anxiety, fear and even unsettled. We distract ourselves 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. Mmmm our brain likes that feeling 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 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!
There is a solution to this problem. 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 melted down and just gorged 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.
This is one of the tools that I learned for weight coaching. Its kinda amazing. I’m in the process of using it to manage my social media ahem usage. If you are interested to find out more about how it works, I’d love to hear from you!
Image by Becca Tarter, Unsplash