Losing a sense of your life’s purpose and desperately trying to find one can place you in a revolving paradoxical mind-set…one minute believing you could accomplish anything, given the chance, and the next minute feeling that you have very little to offer the world. It is within this dichotomy that a miserable life evolves. I don’t personally know anyone who does not succumb to this at one time or another swinging between these two paradigms sometimes in the course of a day. You may be unaware of this trigger and attribute your low-grade mood to being tired, bad weather, problems, or stress at home and work. By learning to stay aware of what is going on in your head, with mindfulness you will be able to ascertain what erroneous thoughts are floating around and address them quickly. Then you can find or create a purpose in the moment and be rewarded with a nice shot of self-esteem and well-being, thanks to serotonin. In fact, the sense of accomplishment is so tied to a good mood that often if you are in a bad mood, just deciding to accomplish some kind of task can snap you out of it. For various reasons, we can all find ourselves sinking during the day. A common mistake we all make is to personalize these blah moods, as in, “Uh oh, something must be wrong, something I don’t know about yet.” I used to take a nap when these moods hit, and that often helped, but now I know I can impact it directly. It’s never personal; it’s simply chemical.
If you don’t understand that evolution has wired you to eat sugary carbohydrates in order to self-soothe and calm you, then you will never be able to control your appetite. Find out how to spot the triggers before you have a Snickers bar in your mouth, because — you’re not really you, when you’re that kind of hungry!
Stop hating yourself — It was only a doughnut
So you walk past the snack room at the office and see a delicious piece of chocolate cake that a deviant co-worker brought in to share. At first you walk away, proudly reminding yourself of the steady diet path you have been on. However, only 45 minutes later you’re suddenly overcome with the urge to have a piece of that delicious…whatever. Why now? Did you change your mind or your diet goal? Did you decide to self-sabotage? This is the type of psychological gymnastics one does to find an answer, assuming it will help fight the urge. But as you search for clues it feels more and more like a no-win situation, and your frustration grows.
Neuroscience tells us these urges have little to do with craving food and controlling our appetite, and more to do with another type of craving, “comfort.” A wonderful feeling, comfort is the result of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in your brain that rewards you with security, confidence and pleasure. Serotonin is our “well-being” drug. It evolved to tell us that our needs have been met — when we eat something we love, go on a shopping spree, feel adored by others, receive a compliment, or believe we are superior than others. You could say that Hollywood is the epitome of a serotonin junkie.
My blog in Psychology Today
If you have ever been frustrated with breaking your diet protocols with something unhealthy you will finally understand why after reading this.