I’m curious … What’s that little extra thing you indulge in every day that takes the edge off?
We’re not talking about bottom of the barrel stuff here – it’s more about noticing when you decide to work that extra hour or two. Or maybe have that one extra cocktail or glass of wine. Could be taking a hit of pot, numbing out in front of the TV. It might even be as simple as adding one more thing to your never-ending to-do list. I could go on and on.
The point is, we have all found a way to avoid sitting on that edge and addressing what needs addressing.
By now, I’m willing to bet that all of your personal go-to’s and quick fixes are swirling around in your mind. Think of them as tiny band aids that you use to cover up your wounds.
No shame in that. We all do it. Human nature really.
We’re always looking for a way to numb out from our current reality rather than finding a way to acknowledge what’s going on, learn to cope and actually deal with our sh*t.
But here’s the rub. It’s momentary pleasure right? We ALL pay the price. I know this from my own personal experience.
How to identify when you’re numbing out.
You see, among my MANY quick fixes (or band aids), I’m an emotional eater. That one’s been with me since I was probably five or six years old. I learned to use food as a way to take the edge off of hearing my parents constantly arguing. My favorite fix back then were these delicious, crispy, sweet peanut butter wafer cookies.
I can still smell the peanut butter yumminess wafting from the package. And that crunch! Oh man. I’d easily munch my way through more than half of the package to try and chase away my anxiety before I realized what I was really feeling was full and sad.
Little did I know I was really filled with was shame for stuffing myself with these cookies instead of dealing with my emotions. But I was a kid. How could I have known that’s what I was doing? Or that I was creating a new lifetime habit that would ultimately play a major role in destroying my digestive system?
Because the truth is that the ‘quick fix’ I was chasing, quickly transformed into a long-term problem. Those wafers were my gateway drug into more adult-like indulgences like working too much or having that one extra cocktail when I knew I was already quite tipsy.
Maybe you’re the same? Maybe the vices you turn to when you need to perk yourself up – or calm yourself down – are doing more harm than good. But you’ll know for sure if you ask yourself this question: does this habit add value to my life?
If its only value is, like my emotional eating, that it feels good in the moment then you can put it into the ‘numbing out‘ category.
What to do instead of numbing out.
Now that I’m 47 – having read hundreds of books, attended numerous retreats, lectures and seminars, employing coaches, therapists and gurus and finding pure joy in my yoga practice – I can truly say that now I’m a self proclaimed self-help junkie.
And for the most part, through these years of self-realization, mindfulness exercises and lots of digging for a deeper meaning and continual peeling back of the layers of my onion, I now fully understand myself.
I’m able to keep myself in check when I’m feeling like something crunchy, or I want to fill my days with mindless errands, or create another to do list for my to-do list.
I can stop, get really quiet and still and ask myself, “Hey – what’s really going on here? What am I really hungry for? How can I truly nourish myself?”
I sit with it. I get quiet. I ground myself into the feeling. I lean into that edge and peel back yet another layer of my onion skin and listen to those wise voices within. Am I feeling bored? Lonely? Sad? How can I counteract my feelings in a healthy way that will bring me pleasure instead of pain?
That’s where tools and resources come into play. Here’s what I do to lean into my edge:
- I got a library card so I can grab a book from my reading pile. I continually load up on authors like Debbie Ford, Brene Brown, Dr. Joe Dispenza and Deepak Chopra to name a few.
- I call a friend whenever I feel like numbing out.
- I change the scenery by going outside for a walk, hike or run.
- I meditate.
- I find an interesting documentary film to watch that makes me think.
- I do more creative writing.
- I text or call my coach to help me through it.
- I acknowledge that it’s just a moment in time and that this too shall pass.
Maybe some of these tools will come in handy for you too. But no matter what, I encourage you to sit with yourself. Lean into your edge. Talk to it. Ask it what it really wants. Make a list of your new go-to’s then you can reach for that list and begin making new choices and doing sh*t that brings you fun and pleasure instead of not dealing with your sh*t and continuing to feel shame and pain.