Sugar has been my substance of choice. Every time I felt stressed, I immediately turned to sugary foods for comfort. It seem to ease the stress and anxiety. (Do you relate?)
One day, I listened to a talk at an online Brain Change Summit (still love neuroscience!) about how an addiction researcher allowed his research participants, who were looking to quit smoking, to smoke.
“What?” they asked. “I thought we were here to quit smoking.” “Just smoke,” the expert said. “But pay attention to the smoking.” They did and one woman recalled her experience which—to summarize—was: “Yuck! It tastes like chemicals. Gross!”
The idea is when you pay attention to a behavior/habit and observe no real gain or even a negative experience as a result of the behavior, you may have reduced craving for said behavior/substance and step out of the habit loop.
This sounded interesting to me and so I decided to try it myself —with sugar. Here’s what happened:
I first tried some sort of pastry, I believe. A cookie, perhaps? (Me not recalling it well tells you a great deal already.) Within 30-60 minutes of consuming this sugary substance, I notice my mind slowing down, shutting down, even. Focus became difficult, so I left my work at the table to take a nap. 1 1/2 hours later, I woke up. That was my first noticeable “sugar trip.”
I was like, okay, maybe it’s just this ONE time. I’ll try it with another sugary substance and see what happens. This second time was with coffee ice cream. (I remember this one better probably because I told someone about it soon after.) I made sure to take a look at my watch before I had some ice cream to get a more accurate reading of the time frame. Ice cream at 3pm. Grogginess at 3:30pm.
Yup, I was definitely feeling groggy, mind foggy. I had a difficult time concentrating and my brain function slowed down again. I don’t think I took a nap, but I did have to sit in my bed a bit. Again, no work.
As it turns out, the following days without sugar were more productive, with many more hours of work done (and feeling good about it too)! I seem to have lost some weight as well, as the fat around my belly seem to have decreased and not yo-yo drastically as it did in the past. (This is just by eyeballing myself in the mirror.)
At this point, I didn’t want to try anything sugary anymore. Those two experiences were enough to keep me from taking anymore sweets. Even holding a fun size Snickers bar today for a 3rd and final test got me feeling physically ill.
What I used to imagine as sugary yummy, goodness in my mouth and medicine for my anxiety has become a near gag reflex and panic attack when I tried a pinch of chocolate-filled bread (instead of the Snickers bar) today. Just a pinch! My heart started racing, immediate thirst, then brain fog. My body was not happy. I felt like pulling the piece of bread out of my esophagus.
So now I can’t have sweets. Not because I know cognitively that it’s not good for me. But because I am more aware of how my mind and body are physically affected by sugar. And the experiences have not been good. I still crave a little of the sweet taste, so something less sweet is fine, but nothing that is made with only or mostly sugar.
I also feel much better, happier, and healthier without it. Feeling alive and focused makes it easier for me to manage my stress and meditate.
Why go back?
I’m not sure what your relationship with sugar is (or any other kind of food or substance) and how your body is affected by it, as every body and mind differs in how it reacts to substances. However, I thought I’d shared this experience with you. Maybe if there’s a behavior, habit or addiction you’d like to pay attention to or you know someone who is struggling with addiction of any kind, this may help. 😊♥️
I met with Anxiety and Depression late 2016 and into 2017 and 2018. I still see them from time to time but our relationship is much better now than it was before, as I have taken the time to recognize, understand, and accept them as they are.
They spent a lot of time with me, trying to protect me these past few years.
Anxiety had me feeling so much fear, so I wouldn’t feel hurt from humiliation when sharing my artwork with others.
Depression kept me isolated from people, so I may recover from the recent trauma of losing someone I loved.
They wanted to protect me.
They did all they could to keep me safe.
And for a long time, I resented them.
I hated them for making me so scared to take action.
So mad at them for keeping me away from people for so long that it’s become so difficult to reach out, ask for help, and be with people again.
I hated them for doing what they only knew how to take care of me.
To keep me from getting hurt from what were perceived as potential threats:
I hated Anxiety and Depression.
But hating them only made it worse.
What is my greatest achievement these past 2-3 years?
Accepting Anxiety and Depression as they are.
Feeling them through and seeing them simply as primal states designed to protect and keep me safe.
So thank you, Anxiety and Depression.
For being there when I wasn’t aware.
I suffered greatly and unconsciously with you by my side.
I know you didn’t mean to overcome me as long as you did.
You only stayed for as long as I needed to realize that I didn’t need to feel bad anymore.
You were only meant to visit as fear and sadness, not to come and stay as Anxiety and Depression.
I just didn’t notice you were there with me until I did.
And when I did, you two kindly departed.
You were not meant to stay forever.
And until I realized this, I held you two close.
It wasn’t your fault.
It wasn’t my fault.
This was just how we worked together when I wasn’t aware of you.
Thank you for being around.
I’ll be sure to see you, feel you, and listen to you a little more intently, each time you visit now.
And with compassion.
Having gone through this period in my life, I sense it is not all for naught.
Nothing is wasted when it’s appreciated.
And I appreciate all that Anxiety and Depression has given me:
Immense insight and immense capacity to hold space for pain and to hold space for love.
I will take what I have learned through these low moments in my life and shine light on a new way of being and creating:
Creating with Compassion.
I didn’t create much when I was with Anxiety and Depression.
When I did, fear and shame was present.
I had difficulty truly enjoying and settling into the magic space of creating.
It was only until I look towards fear and shame with love and compassion that I was able to create from love and compassion.
That is what I wish for the world:
Human beings creating from joy, not fear.
From love, not shame.
To be a guiding light of creative compassion for others, I am building a business that delivers this message and practice to all human beings through online videos and a membership community.
We are all creators.
We are all artists.
We just need to be kinder human beings to ourselves so we may create more freely and generously with true abundance and care.
To the man that offered to help me into the bank ATM: Thank you for your help Thank you for your kindness And thank you for being straightforward with me “Are you single? Do you live here? I’m just asking because you look cute. I was wondering if we can exchange numbers.” “Yes Yes Thank you But no” I said. No qualm. No anger. No persistence. Thank you for your respect and kindness. It was refreshing. And thank you to Self. I was able to be truly myself around a man without the fear of needing to please him or be polite. I received his compliment and gesture with grace and gratitude. No disregarding. No sidestepping. No lies. I’m proud of myself. I’m happy with the work I’ve done. It’s taken quite a bit of time. But I’m feeling confident Truly confident. There are still many blockages I can feel throughout my body, but I’m encouraged to feel them through Listen to them through Be with them through Thank you for reflecting what I feel in myself Kindness, love, and acceptance I in turn feel I can trust the world around me once more What I feel in my heart and in my soul. Thank you, man at the ATM. Thank you. Much love to you.