Why Do I Keep Doing These Things?
Let me offer you a useful analogy: your computer / your mind/body.
The hardware roughly corresponds to our physical bodies, including our brains. The software corresponds to our minds. And all our bothersome, problem causing, even self-damaging habits we can’t seem to break, are the viruses or malware. And we all have those habits and compulsions; no one is exempt!
Here and there on the long road of our development, we all pick up very deep, subconscious, even unconscious mental habit patterns, malware programs. They just sit there doing nothing at all, undetectable and no problem until the right conditions manifest in our lives and then they get triggered and run their course. Once triggered, it is nearly impossible (though not completely so) to stop them; they do their thing and then go back to sleep. Any one pattern may trigger any number of others and this is how nearly all of us live our lives day to day, driven by these deep “malware” patterns. Here is an all too common example:
There is a person who wants to be healthy and knows that potato chips while ok for a very rare indulgence in small quantities, are just not something that can regularly or in large amounts without damaging effects. They decide they just won’t eat them at all any more because for them they are a “trigger food” i.e. eat one and you just want more more more! At the market, they seen their favorite brand and think, “Well I will just buy these but not eat them and save them for sometime when I just really want a special treat.” They tell themselves this and buy them while knowing that it just won’t work for them to do that. All the way home they hear those chips in amongst the groceries, calling to them. Then at home they manage to stash them in a cupboard “out of sight, out of mind” right? Oops, not exactly out of mind… A day or two later they are having a somewhat stressful day, working on taxes, a fight with significant other, car trouble, whatever, and “the necessary pre-conditions are met”…chips are easily available and emotional tension. “I’ll just have a few, a handful, then clip the bag closed and save the rest.” But within a short period of time, 1/2 hour? 15 minutes?, soon anyway, they find themselves feeling around the bottom of the bag for the last crumbs. Once the bag is empty and they notice the moderately ill feeling in their body, the conditions of the program have been met and they no longer crave more chips.
“Why did I do that…again?” Of course they will feel ashamed, guilty, and vow to themselves never to do it again but it was inevitable, easily available chips+emotional stress or tension are the necessary preconditions for their programming and the chips will be eaten. And it will happen again because they will see those chips in the store, so they will buy them, and they will feel stressed again…
There is really only one way to stop this pattern from playing out on a regular basis and it is the same for all our compulsions and “weaknesses”, large and small. The software must be debugged, the deep mind cleared of those driving programs.
One can often prevent the acting out, even for years at a time, with support groups, accountability, by scrupulously avoiding all triggers. But it is a white knuckle proposition, “the malware is still in place in the OS”, and ultimately there will almost certainly be slip-ups and regressions. In some situations this is not such a big deal but in others it can have tragic consequences. This is however, often the necessary course of action at first, “the white knuckle”, “sober drunk” approach can keep a person from damaging or even destroying parts of their life.
Here is the good news and the harder to hear news.
The good news is that there are ways to debug, to deprogram your deep unconscious and subconscious, to become permanently free and on the course you really want to follow. Most often this takes a lot of dedicated, hard work over a long period of time, and that can be challenging.
The difficulty is that most of these negative patterns, particularly the most destructive ones, are buried so deeply that they are very hard to access or even recognize at first. A long-term practice of deep meditation (something like “Vipassana” or “Natural Stress Relief”–see links below) is one of the best tools. You can work very hard for a long time and still not get the results you want, if you aren’t using the proper tools or are using them but incorrectly. So good instruction is crucial.
Some forms of psychotherapy can help; especially what are called mind/body techniques. Shamanism done by/with a well-trained shaman can also help. In some mysterious way, prayer can sometimes work. Whatever technique(s) is used requires long-term sincere effort to be effective.
In my personal experience and observation, meditation is the one that has the deepest and most far reaching effects. Below are a couple links to get you started, should you choose to go that route. Above all, remember that you can be free, free of programming, free of compulsive behavior, free to live your own life. This does not mean no problems and no pain (they are just part of life!); it does mean you will no longer be driven like a robot at times and will be able to deal with problems by responding appropriately as they arise, rather than reflexively which often just makes things worse and causes more problems.
If you have read “The Pleasure Trap” by Lisle and Goldhammer, what I have written here fits in perfectly with that. What I am pointing to is what makes the difference between those who take one bite of Pleasure Trap food and come right off the rails into a compulsive junk food binge and those who can eat a reasonably small serving of the same food and say, “That was good” and be done with it, not eat it again for many months. Freedom is calling you!
I wish you happiness, freedom and ease, well being and health, always in your life.
Geoffrey Levens, L.Ac., Health Coach
Follow internal links on the sites to find out more and/or get started.