Driving back home after a very tough meeting that required firing an employee, I felt sad. Following an old pattern, I began to think about comforting foods.
I would stop at the supermarket to buy a croissant ham sandwich, a bag of something crisp and salty and some chocolate bars - all to eat in my car.
As I pulled into the parking lot I asked, “what if I didn’t buy any of those foods right now?” That slight pause allowed two insights to surface:
Insight no. 1: None of the foods I intended to buy were foods I would typically choose to eat.
Insight no. 2: What I most needed was to release the built up tension resulting from the lack of sleep and the intensity of the meeting I had just left.
Faced with a choice point, I pushed back the car seat and took a 20 minute nap. As a result, the stress dropped from about a 9 down to a 2 – without those extra calories.
Have you recently felt like buying, eating, or doing something you know is not in your best interest?
Perhaps you are tempted by a great outfit in a designer boutique, even though finances are tight.
Or, you may go by a French bakery and smell the aromas of freshly baked muffins. You want to buy one…. even though you know you can’t stop at eating one.
What about when a co-worker repeatedly turns up her music in the next cube? You are at the end of your rope, and are ready to give her a piece of your mind.
When you have an urge to act compulsively, can you pause, even for a few seconds, take a breath, and ask: “What if I didn’t?”
• What if I didn’t buy it, right now?
• What if I didn’t eat it, right now?
• What if I didn’t say it, right now?
A moment’s reflection might provide an opportunity to make healthier and more balanced choices.
But if you choose otherwise, please remember that there is no failure here, just the opportunity to gain more insight about yourself.
I’d love to hear how you have managed emotional responses to triggers.