After getting back into the habit of meditating, I'm taking on the role of "the observer" in my daily life. The observer is simply where instead of doing things automatically (and without thought), you pay attention to your actions and analyze them as if you're on the outside looking in. Most of the time, we're active participants in our foolishness instead of looking at our actions from an objective point of view.
By simply paying attention to my triggers and subsequent actions, I may have finally solved the mystery of why I binge on sweets. If you apply "the observer method", you could potentially unlock the key to breaking bad habits and replace them with powerful new ones.
Most of the time, we're operating under this cloud (or fog). We carry out actions without much thought to the behavior or the consequence. Worst of all, some of the stuff we do is the complete opposite of what we say we want. By the time we realize what's happened, it's too late.
This is the what I've been dealing with when it comes to eating sugar. When it's really bad, I can eat several individual snacks in one sitting. Typically the pattern repeated itself no matter how much I wanted to change it.
Recently, I've become hyperaware of the ill effects of even small amounts of sugar. Even after eating a couple cookies, I notice my body isn't happy with my decision. Before, I didn't notice this adverse effect until I had consumed way too much. But meditation (focusing on my breath) has caused me to notice my present state.
So here's what happened.
Typically, in the early afternoon, my body is looking for an energy source to fuel the next couple of hours. Since I'm busy working, I reach for what's closest & most convenient. Most times, high sugar snacks look very attractive. I eat a sweet snack. Next comes a feeling of euphoria as the sugar hits the tastebuds. I reach for another one. More sugar stimulation. Maybe one more. Minutes later, I notice this weird feeling. My body is actually reacting to the rush of sugar as if it's a bad thing. More time passes. Here comes the sugar crash. Now I feel really sleepy in the middle of my workday. I wanted the sugar to supply quick fuel but it's doing the exact opposite.
Once I finally became fully aware of this endless cycle, I tried a different approach.
It's early evening and I'm becoming sluggish after a busy day. I'm looking for a quick pick me up before dinner. Instead of going for a cookie, I reach for a bottle of green juice. Time passes. I get a sudden, small jolt of energy. More time passes, there's no weird crash or sugar hangover. Success! I got exactly what I was looking for but without the negative side effects.
It's common knowledge that veggie juices will fuel the body better than any cookie. So why was I always making the wrong decision even though I already knew better? Simple. I was operating based on past behaviors. There was a set of instructions already in place based on what I executed so many times before. Nothing would change that unless I made a conscious choice.
Making a conscious decision is probably one of the hardest things we can do. There's this thing called decision fatigue and it's real.
Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs indecision making.
Decision fatigue make us default to the easy (and non-optimal) choice. In the case of my sugar cravings. I'm going to make sure to have plenty of green juice (and no sugary snacks) nearby. It takes will power to choose a green drink over a tasty treat. I don't want to put myself in that position again. Will power is a great concept but we tend to have limited supply of it. Sometimes it's easier to take away the option that can lead to failure than to try to overcome it.
We have to pay close attention to the outcomes that follow our choices then decide if we want to continue to repeat the same scenario over and over again.
Next up, I need to apply conscious decision making when grocery shopping. When I come up on those cookies again, my brain will conveniently remember how good they tasted and neglect to remind me of the crazy sugar crash and mild headache that ensued. I've got to prepare to successfully cross that bridge when I come to it. Hopefully more time in meditation practicing awareness will help.
This notion of becoming the observer to your behavior is very powerful. And we can apply it to every area of our lives. We can leverage it to alter our limiting habits or amplify the actions that we take that bring us positive results. It goes both ways. What's most important is that we become aware of our behavior so we can chose to live in a way that aligns with what we want.