Our brain is an amazing organ but it also gets us into sooooo much trouble when not managed. We can get caught in a cycle of buffering and then our days are very much a rinse and repeat of behaviors and actions that don’t serve us.
The why is because of our brain’s motivational strategy to seek pleasure, avoid pain and to conserve energy.
Here is how it happens…
We see food, we eat food, we feel good, then when we feel bad, we want to feel good, so we eat more food…repeat.
Insert any other buffering behavior.
- We see cool guy smoking, we want to be a cool guy, we smoke, we feel cool…repeat!
- We see pretty lady, we want to be pretty lady, we shop for pretty clothes, we feel good…repeat!
- We see classy lady drinking pretty drink, we want to be classy, we drink, we feel classy…repeat!
This is reward based learning and our brain is very good at it. What happens though is that when we do these things at the effect of our sub-conscious, we over-indulge in almost every area.
Instead of learning how to cope with emotions and situations, we buffer until we feel better.
I love this quote “you can never get enough of what you don’t need, because what you don’t need doesn’t have the power to satisfy you.”-Dallin H Oaks.
You can add over working, over working out, watching too much TV, playing video games too much. Anything that we do to soothe our emotions, distract us from feeling bad, or entertain us when we are bored is a buffering behavior.
I know I talk a lot about mindfulness and you can’t pick up a self-help book without reading about mindfulness. It is the first step in changing anything that needs to be changed. It’s the first step to a more evolved you.
The truth is that you can’t change anything unless you are aware and you understand what is driving your behavior or habit.
We tend to beat ourselves up and get so hard on ourselves when we buffer but beating yourself up does not serve you when it comes to changing behavior.
What we need is a new thought and a new emotion.
Let’s try this emotion…curiosity!
Be curious about the thoughts and emotions that are that are driving your buffering behavior. Your thoughts can come in the form of a question and guess what? You have changed your emotions and your thoughts, from whatever it was, to curiosity.
We can’t continue to call ourselves names like loser, fatty, good for nothing, ugly, nerdy, useless, worthless. We can’t keep saying “I can’t, I don’t understand or I don’t know how”.
Instead, be curious. “I wonder why I feel restless, I wonder why I feel bored, I am curious why this event is so difficult, I wonder….”
I have done this and for sure it’s really hard to continue beating yourself up while you are exploring.
Buffering to make the emotions go away does not make the emotions go away, it just makes us not feel them…for now.