How to Stop Wanting What’s Bad For You
“We love being mentally strong, but we hate situations that allow us to put our mental strength to good use.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Do you know why diets fail?
Because they are based on using willpower to deprive yourself of foods that you want.
Desire is a powerful emotion. It drives action and compels us to seek out the objects of our desire.
Here’s what that looks like:
You love freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
Your diet doesn’t allow flour.
You still love cookies; you still want cookies… but you try your best to abstain from cookies.
You’re “good” for one day… maybe one week…
You try to avoid going anywhere that sells cookies, so you’re not tempted.
You remove all cookies from your house.
Then one day someone brings in freshly baked cookies to work, still warm from the oven.
You don’t want to be “rude” (and you still really love cookies because your desire for cookies hasn’t gone away yet), so you give in and have a cookie.
(cue guilt, regret, frustration, self-loathing, etc which leads to eating more cookies)
Let’s step back from the vicious cycle to understand how our minds work. It goes like this:
Thoughts create feelings which drive actions
The thought “I love cookies” creates DESIRE which leads to the action of eating cookies
When you add a diet into the mix it looks like this:
“I’m on a diet but I’m not supposed to have cookies” (subconscious thought is still “I love cookies” which creates the feeling of DEPRIVATION + DESIRE which leads to trying to resist temptations and cravings with resist temptations and cravings until eventually you give in to them.
THIS IS WHY DIETS DON’T WORK.
So how do you reduce eating foods that aren’t good for you without feeling deprived?
The only solution is to reduce your DESIRE for those foods.
Imagine how easy it would be to not eat cookies if you didn’t want them anymore. If you had less desire, you would not be compelled to eat them – no matter how warm, soft, delicious they are.
This is possible.
It’s called desire de-conditioning.
It looks like this:
Thought: “I love cookies, but I no longer want to want cookies. I want to be free from my desire for cookies” which creates a feeling of COMMITMENT and the new action to practice is observe and allow the desire for cookies without trying to resist or avoid it.
This is not pushing away the desire for cookies. It’s acknowledging the desire, FEELING the urge, but not acting on it
Resistance VS allowing
There is a big difference between resisting or avoiding an urge or ALLOWING and experiencing an urge.
Resistance creates tension and strain. It’s exhausting and takes a lot of energy.
Allowing is gentler. It’s still uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as resistance. And every time you allow yourself to experience an urge you strengthen your ability to feel it without reacting to it. It gets easier and easier and eventually the desire is eliminated.
Learning to observe, experience and allow an urge to eat is a subtle art. It takes time to develop.
When you’ve spent most of your life giving into to every impulse, every craving, every urge, every compulsion, every itch, every hankering, you won’t be very good at it at first.
You’ll want to use force. You’ll lie to yourself and tell yourself that you don’t have the desire anymore. You’ll want to white knuckle your way through the day and distract yourself, so you don’t need to feel the discomfort of your unanswered urge.
But here’s the thing. If you stop rewarding every impulse, the urges become less intense. You will have de-conditioned yourself to react to the thoughts that are compelling you to take undesired actions in your life.
This is true freedom.
This is the ability to gain mastery over your life and to know that you have the capacity to do anything – because you’ll willing to FEEL everything.
Then the real fun begins. All that desire that you’ve been allocating to cookies and sugar and flour and food can be directed towards something else, something MORE.
Where would YOU funnel all that desire? If you could put all that energy you’ve been putting towards resisting desires into something else – what would you do?
This is an important question to ask yourself. And one that I recommend you take time to reflect on.
Your mind is the most powerful piece of technology in the world. There is NOTHING more valuable than the human mind. It can create ANYTHING.
There are infinite possibilities when you become intentional about what you want to use your brain space on. And cookies, well cookies… they don’t deserve to take up that much space in your life.
Diets don’t work because you take away food, but you don’t take away DESIRE.
The only way to stop eating the food that no longer want to obsess over is to eliminate your desire for it.
You eliminate your desire by allowing the craving without resisting, avoiding or acting on it.
When you stop rewarding the urge and leave it unanswered, you eventually eliminate it.
You gain freedom from deprivation and not eating the food becomes easy.
You become empowered in your eating habits.
And the rest they say, is history 😊