Allowing Pleasure

I can’t stop thinking about my TV post from yesterday. 

My question on repeat is this: If an activity is essentially designed to provide intense pleasure in the form of a dopamine hit, why am I denying myself that pleasure?”

If I had to guess, I think that by immediately bringing in the shame police I believe I can shame myself into behavior change. Then I can start doing what I think I should be doing (not watching TV). 

This is something I also do with sugar and flour. I think that a weight loss coach should not eat these things. When I do eat these foods, I beat myself up in an effort to try to steer course. 

I repeat this over and over with no positive results. I’m starting to think this approach doesn’t work. 

Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. If we as humans are designed to seek pleasure, then how can I work WITH my urge instead of against it? 

By practicing allowing pleasure. 

This answer comes to me while I am absentmindedly petting my dog. 

How can I allow the pleasure of petting my dog? Her soft fur, her shiver of enjoyment, her nudging me to keep going. 

By noticing this, I amp up my pleasure. 

OK, how about something a little harder? How could I enjoy the pleasure of waiting in the checkout line to buy groceries? 

Flipping through a trashy magazine, eavesdropping on my neighbors, reorganizing the misplaced candy. 

OK, how about something that seems impossible to enjoy? How could l enjoy the pleasure of an urge? 

The anticipation of food, like Christmas or a fabulous vacation is coming, the aliveness of my brain and body, the pride I know I’ll feel later when I sit with this urge. 

By flipping the conversation around, we open up to seeing a different options. 

When we white knuckle though an urge, we are essentially telling our brains that it can’t have the only thing it desperately wants: pleasure. When we argue with this reality, we lose every time. Eventually it throws the world’s biggest tantrum and we give in by feeding it whatever it wants just so we can feel a little relief.

When we seek alternative means of pleasure, we work WITH our urge to give it what it wants in a way that serves our long-term wellbeing. 

White-knuckling asks, “How do I defeat this enemy?”
Allowing asks, “How do I work with this friend?”

 

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