December 30 - "I'll Have Just One, Just This Once!"

For a little over a year, I had been focusing on being kind to my body...giving it the proper amount of exercise and feeding it healthy foods and lots of water. In return, my body communicated its pleasure by shedding 30 pounds of fat and performing energetically during the day. Then one day, in a heartbeat of a moment, my wonderful new regime was compromised.

I broke a bone in my left hand.

With a cast almost up to my elbow, my weight-lifting days were over for a while. I could no longer swim laps in the pool or dig vigorously in my garden. It was difficult to sleep and almost impossible to dry my hair. Life definitely felt different.

One night I was sitting in an easy chair, feeling more than a bit sorry for myself, and I decided to have just one small dish of chocolate ice cream...“to make me feel better.”

And for a brief moment, it did.

However, the next night, my body remembered. Well, it forgot about the “brief ” part and remembered only the “feeling better” part. And so my craving began.

To try and satisfy it, I ate another dish of ice cream.

The pattern repeated itself over and over for the next few months... only the dish got larger and the cravings were more frequent. My sugar addiction was back in full force. Ten pounds later, the scale thankfully broke through my denial.

What can I do to handle this differently in the future? How can I use this experience to learn more about those moments when my addictive nature tries to convince me that I “can have just one”?

First of all, I need always to remember that chocolate, while it tastes delicious, will never, ever truly help me release my emotions. If I am sad, I have tears that will remove the unhealthy chemicals from my body. I need to remember to use them. If I am angry, it is a call to action…to make the world a better place…not a call to eat. Introducing another chemical into my body will not only complicate and prolong whatever uncomfortable situation I might be in, it will also compromise my physical and emotional health as well.

Then I need to remember that if I am using an addictive substance to cover up any emotion, it will do just that…it will cover it up. It won’t meet my genuine need; it won’t express the uncomfortable feeling that I am experiencing. And thus I will end up feeling dissatisfied…craving something… anything. As a result, it is highly probable that I may then think that I need even more of the addictive substance…and the cravings very likely will seem permanent and unmanageable. This is clearly the cycle of addiction.

I also must remember to stay aware of my addictive habits. What substances do I use to camouflage my feelings? When am I most apt to reach for them? I need to remind myself daily what they are so that denial can never again fool me into believing that the addictive substances will help me to feel better in any way.

I must practice genuine methods of expressing my emotions so that I can return to the peaceful and centered place that I crave. These include talking to a professional, sharing what I feel with a friend, or journaling with the intention of understanding more of the situation.

And finally, I must strive to understand my emotions so that I can utilize the energy they provide to improve the world in which I live. I will use what I learn to make the world a safer place for children. The only way I believe that I will ever be truly satisfied will be to learn how to express my emotions in a healthy way and to understand the emotion itself so that I can then make a significant difference with my life.

What can you do today to remember that one taste of an addictive substance is way too many and yet paradoxically never enough? What can you learn to do instead that will truly satisfy your adult needs in a genuine way? What distinctions must you learn so that you can become comfortable in this new way of life? How can you make your life matter?

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