• Getting Lost in Desire and Cravings?

    Desire is natural.

    I am aware, for example, that I seek comfort, ease and warmth, especially in winter. With those desires in mind, I sometimes fantasize about traveling … seeking fulfillment, a new experience, a meaningful experience, that will somehow add or improve my life. Maybe.

    Of course, getting lost in these kinds of thoughts and feelings can take one away from the present moment, which I am realizing at this moment. I notice cravings to check things, such as e-mail and surf the web, among others. The “ding” from my phone signaling the arrival of a new e-mail is a powerful invitation to take a look at it. Such signals and invitations create a very strong, well-worn groove of habitual behavior.

    Note that there is no judgment here about behaviors you want to do, whether it be checking e-mail or text, smoking, eating, etc. This article addresses behaviors that you are getting lost in, out of habitual cravings, and wish to curtail. It offers a few steps to positively shift your response when habitual cravings arise.

    What are you aware of craving or desiring in your daily life?

    If there is a craving or an urge that you are trying to not give in to, such as surfing the web, smoking, disordered eating, etc., the first step is mindful awareness.

    • How do you come to be aware of your desire? Do you feel an energy or tension in your body? Do you feel an urge to move and do something? Do you have a thought running through your head that is clamoring for your full attention NOW? Some sense of urgency is present.

    Along with mindful awareness of cravings or urges, the next step is to become a curious observer of what’s going on.

    • How strong is the energy or tension in your body? Being a curious observer does not mean gritting your teeth and sucking it up.
    • Rather, meet any tension or discomfort or strong feelings with compassion, reminding yourself that this is a normal process of being human.
    • You can rate the intensity of your feeling, noticing if it changes over time (e.g., as you delay gratifying the urge). The goal here is not to avoid the craving necessarily, but rather notice with curiosity and compassion, even if you do give in to the craving or desire.

    So, if you hear the signal of a new email or text, pause for a moment and become aware of your breath. Take a deep breath or two, inviting curiosity into this moment. Acknowledge that here lies the presence of an urge.

    • What are you feeling? is there tension, tingling or other sensations? Where do you feel it? Remind yourself that these feelings are natural and normal – they are part of the human experience.

    Over time, and with practice and patience, you may notice a shift in your thinking and responses to cravings. You will have more awareness of this natural process that we all experience many times on a daily basis. 

    Contact the Mindful Counseling Center at 609-377-5859 for assistance in positively shifting your response to cravings. We can connect you to one of our therapists, as appropriate, and/or help you find additional resources. Also see Links to Information.

    Article by Patrick Connelly.

    Related Blogs: Balancing Suffering with Healthy Habits, Power of The Pause