Monday, February 12, 2007

Mind games

I, who consider myself a very authentic person, am discovering that some mind games are worth playing. That's because there are parts of my brain that like to play tricks on the other parts, and in order to combat that, you've gotta use one part of the brain to trick or calm the crazy part.

As I've discussed in previous posts, one of my games, when I have a craving, is to remind myself of all the various places I can get whatever I am craving, and remind myself I can find a high-quality version of whatever I am craving whenever I want. Somehow, it helps calm the craving.

Also, as I have mentioned before, I am learning to be very empathetic to the part of me that gets crazy-hormonal or gets anxious with desire when I develop a craving. I remind myself, with great understanding, that part of my body is very confused. Then I ask myself what I am really wanting: sleep? a good talk with a friend? snuggles with my husband? sex? a bubble bath? a tall glass of tasty bottled water?

Those are games I've mentioned before. Here's a new one I've been finding effective for about the last week or so. It's a game called "What if I just . . . ?" I started playing this game last week when my husband had made these delicious butter cookies that are filled with jam. They are out of this world. I had 2 1/2 cookies . . . but then I wanted more. And sympathy wasn't helping. And a reminder that I could have them any time really wasn't true; these are some labor-intensive cookies. But the thing is, for the health and well-being of my body, I really didn't need to keep indulging in these super-rich, super-buttery, super-sugary cookies. And I was going to bed soon; if I eat too close to bedtime, I sleep worse than usual. So even though some part of me said, "EAT THE COOKIES," and even though I am telling people to try to eat intuitively, I also want people to eat smartly--myself included: to recognize when a craving is not a need but just an emotional or physical reaction to a particular substance that doesn't promote well-being.

I stood in the kitchen; I was so torn. The cookies were calling to me; my primitive brain was answering. Then I thought, "What happens if I just walk away? What happens if I just ignore the craving?" Nothing, I realized. Nothing. I'm fine without those cookies. I flipped off the kitchen light and walked away. And I felt pretty good about myself, too, because I knew I was making the right decision.

I've applied that way of thinking several times since then. The most recent time was yesterday afternoon. For about the past week, I have been feeling unwell at times--a stuffy nose here, a headache there. It felt like it was getting worse yesterday. I didn't feel awful, just not too great. I was scheduled to go on a walk with one of my friends, and I kept considering cancelling. I've read a study recently that says that exercise can boost the immune system in people who are fighting off colds, so intellectually, I really didn't have a reason to go. And I wasn't really sick enough to cancel; if I didn't exercise every time something aches or feels off, I'd nearly never go. Then I thought, "What happens if I just do it?" Well, my walk could be fine, or I could start feeling worse. "If I feel worse, can I just cut my walk short? Will my friend understand?" Yes.

I went on the walk, and it actually energized me; I came home with enough energy to make dinner. And it was a delicious dinner, so I'm going to give it a post of its own.


Mal said...

This entry reminded me very much of something I read over at 43folders last year. The link is here: and I thought it was sorta pertinent. Merlin writes about organization and productivity rather than calories and dumbells, but it's still interesting to me.

Chubby and Tubby said...

I really like what you had to say about analyzing where your cravings were really coming from and how those needs could be met elsewhere.

And congrats on defeating the cookie craving (they sound divine!).


the veggie paparazzo said...

Mal, love the link--thanks.

Tubby, glad you got something out of it! :)

:-) said...

I've started to notice the same physiological reactions when I eat desserts...I feel flush, and can tell that I'm eating something that my body doesn't do well with. It's empowering to gain that self-awareness!

Good wishes for you tomorrow as you trust yourself.