Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Physical vs. emotional

In my last post I wrote that I believe I could get physically hooked on sugar again, but not emotionally. Those can be hard to distinguish, but what I mean is that when I cut out sugar last November, it only took a few weeks to feel my body make the adjustment. My 3:00 p.m. slump and energy dips disappeared and I stopped needing that shot of sugar to get me through the day. But my emotional need for sweets lasted much longer. I felt left out of the party, like my life had less fun and excitement. I felt deprived like a child who has to watch everyone else have a good time while she gets nothing.

Breaking that emotional need for sweets took much more than just abstaining from them. I continued the work I'd been doing for decades, which in the past eight months took the form of meditation and Emotional Freedom Technique. Only because this was a continuation of years of working on my sugar addiction and this was one of many attempts to cut back on sweets, I finally reached my current success. These days, sweetness is mostly just another flavor I can enjoy or not.

But I'm in a tricky place. This view of sweets is very new and if I assume too much, I could easily mistake my take-it-or-leave-it attitude for so-I-might-as-well-take-it-all. I could get physically hooked on the sugar roller coaster and then I'd have to start over again to get off.

So I'm not going to do that, but it's also the habits I have to focus on now. I'm talking about habits such as eyeing the pastry case in restaurants and cafes, looking at candy bars and imagining which one I'd get IF I were to get one, scrutinizing desserts before I turn them down, thinking, "I wish I could have one of those," paying too much attention to bakeries and donut shops as I pass them, envying other people's birthday cakes, and generally acting like someone who's still hooked on sweets. Those are all mental habits that I've had for a lifetime and I need to break them. Often I don't actually want the donut or the candy bar, I'm just in the habit of eyeing them. I don't really want the cookie or the frozen coffee drink with whipped cream, I just have a knee-jerk "Oh, she's so lucky to get to have that" reaction.

So there's the physical dependence, the emotional dependence, and the residual behaviors that no longer fit, but which I haven't let go of yet. I've got to stop acting like people walking around with ice cream cones and cinnamon rolls are living a better life than I am. Who knows the details of their lives? Just because they're having dessert doesn't mean they're happier and sleeping better at night. And I don't need to envy anyone their birthday cake. I had my birthday cake and it was delicious, but it gave me a stomach ache and I had as much as I wanted. It's time to let my actions follow my true desires. It's time to re-train my reactions so they're consistent with what I really want in my life.

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