What I have found when working with many of my life and weight loss clients, as well as former therapy clients, is that most of the bad habits that we want to change fall into a category we term in coaching as: “buffering”.
Buffering is when we use external motivations, (ie. false pleasures) to change how we feel emotionally. Often times it’s done to avoid pain as we believe that we need a soft shield from the it. Buffers comes in many shapes and sizes, and some have mild to severe consequences in our lives. It can be surfing social media when we should be working. It can be downing several cocktails when we are experiencing social anxiety. It can be a handful of chocolate chips when we have to have a tough conversation ahead of us. It can be online shopping and over-exercising when the demands of parenthood overwhelm us. For some it is drugs, pornography, and gambling. And so on.
Whatever it is, the buffer has a net negative effect on our lives because there is always an equal and opposite consequence to the buffering activity. For example, we gain weight when we overeat, we have a hangover when we overdrink, or we don’t have enough money leftover when we overspend. The bummer is here that although we get to escape or numb some emotional pain in the near term, once we stop buffering, we are then left with that same pain we started with and have now compounded it with MORE negative feelings from the consequences our buffers leave us with.
So, the first thing to ask yourself, is does this buffering activity have any authority over me? “Am I in total control of this behavior?” If the answer is NO, then it helps to explore all the negative results this buffer has in your life. Then, decide if you like these results. You must be honest here because your brain will most likely want you to continue engaging in this behavior because it is so pleasurable for the time being. Think instead about how you feel the next day, later in the week, in the month when you have done a lot of buffering. Is this serving you?
You then have to honestly decide if you can incorporate it in your life without it having a profound negative result. For some buffers, like drugs we need help in quitting them completely to halt the negative results, but for some buffers like food, drinking, binge-watching, or exercise we can still interact positively. If you want to continue using your buffer, here are some strategies:
1). Plan in advance in when you are going to engage in this activity. Decide when and how much you will consume or participate in. When we plan we are using the rational part of our brain that has our best interest in mind because it can forecast future consequences.
2). Expect that you are going to have urges for this buffer and allow yourself to have the urge without answering it. This can be uncomfortable, but you can experience discomfort without responding to your buffer of choice. This is a skill I teach my weight loss clients that is a game changer.
3). Remind yourself that the feeling you are trying to escape, let’s say shame or disappointment, is a feeling that will still be there after you buffer.
4). Finally, remind yourself that when you give up your buffer or learn to interact with it in a healthier way, you don’t have to experience the negative consequence anymore and this frees up time to do the important things you really want in life.
I am here for you if you want support and detailed strategies to ditch a buffer that is holding you back.
Everything you want is on the other side of doing some hard shit and I am here to help you work through it all.
Schedule your session here: http://bit.ly/2rD8YZk
Stay tuned, I am going to be scheduling Power Hour Goal Setting Sessions at the end of this year to set you all up for success in 2019!
In the meantime,make the best of the 64 days you still have in this year.
All the best,