On the Empowering Aspects of Instant Gratification

I’ve been examining myself for the last couple of months, wondering about my personal behavior patterns – the actions I take without thinking and how they damage my body and my mind every day. For a long time, I’ve “tried” to lose weight, though these were nothing but vapid aspirations engaged to make myself feel good. I’m constantly undermined by these behavioral patterns that I only just discovered a couple of weeks ago. In a way, it surprised me that I hadn’t seen this far earlier, but the ignorant mind feeding an addicted body is a powerful amnesia.

The first behavior I noticed was how quickly I stepped up to receive instant gratification from myself. 99% of the time, this comes in the form of food. Typically I eat large quantities with close to no physical activity. When I say large quantities, I mean I eat until my stomach hurts. If I eat less… if I don’t feel anything after I’ve completed my meal, I inevitably feel hungry again in a couple of hours. I believe that the most efficient way to deconstruct a behavioral pattern is to determine what built it in the first place, and break the foundations out from underneath. This is certainly a difficult task, but let’s examine my behavior with this point of view.

Assumptions:

– I eat a lot of food

– I spend a lot of money on food (usually ordering out for convenience)

– My body puts up with the pain to “enjoy the flavor”

 

Let’s deconstruct the first point, “I eat a lot of food”. I refuse to believe that initially my appetite was so large that I ate more calories than my body could take. Even with the chemicals and compounds in modern processed food that supposedly mess around with the ability of my brain to hear the notification from my stomach that it is full, there is certainly a point where the body has to say “Oh shit stop, there isn’t enough room in here for any more food!” So clearly my consumption of large quantities wasn’t hereditary or caused by processed food. Further support of this issue not being hereditary is that no one in my family was excessively overweight.

I also didn’t have a particularly stressful childhood. The only stressors were primarily long and drawn out, such as my dad passing away when I was 11. I doubt that his passing caused my eventual rise to size, especially since there wasn’t any major weight gain until late high school. Perhaps the only option left is just that I REALLY like flavors and food always brings an amazing palette of flavors and spices. This was also aided by the fact that my mom always made extremely flavorful and good food.

The other aspect I believe contributed to this was that my family was never wealthy or even “comfortable” as far as money goes. The reasons surrounding this are irrelevant, but I think it built a kind of scarcity mentality in my mind. After leaving the house, the mixture of being able to horde as much food as I could to fix the scarcity and having money and being free of restrictions on getting fast food or other such things (such commands as “No McDonalds, it’s not healthy!” no longer applied directly to me!) made a cocktail of overeating that lead me to where I am now.

Now I can work on deconstructing this behavior. I no longer need (and arguably never did) the mentality of scarcity. I make enough money to live comfortably and fulfill my dietary needs without worry about when my next meal will be. In a way, I have been readopting the scarcity mentality so that I eat less. I’ve been telling myself “be scarce… embrace scarcity”. This can probably be confusing to most people reading this, and I will chalk up why it makes sense to me as having a weird brain. By reversing the power of the concept of scarcity, I can gain power over my quantity sizes. By living scarcely, I am living as a minimalist, as a small being. This can equate to being fit, as that is a massive size difference down from where I am. So really, this mantra has a double meaning (making it equally useful).

The second aspect of deconstruction revolves around that delicious home cooking my mom made. Many of the recipes I grew up with I can’t eat unmodified anymore due to my paleo/primal leanings. I can deconstruct my taste bud’s desire to taste everything over and over again by acknowledging that flavor is best enjoyed, and then left until the next tasting. It increases the wonder and joy of the tasting each time if there is a sizable break between consumptions. I think I can fool myself into thinking that the anticipation increases the flavor of the item, whether or not that is actually a psychological fact.

And the last aspect of deconstruction for this issue is that I do not need instant gratification to be satisfied. Sometimes it is okay (and biologically familiar) to be a little hungry. Life should and does revolve around satisfaction and gratification, and for stress relief purposes I’m avid about the fact that everyone should gratify themselves. But too much gratification can be hazardous. I take great comfort in my gratifications. My challenge comes in selecting the gratifications that allow me to safely maintain that mentality of scarcity that I described above.

A note about the mentality of scarcity, since we’re back on it. For some reason, I have an internal need to be as small and unnoticeable as possible, both in physical size, but as well as in social presence. I find that conflict happens far less when I am out of the way. That’s not to say I can’t relish in social contact and be outwardly vocal. Anyone who knows me understands that this is just the way I am. But when a situation arises that could be defused by me removing myself from the situation or from the main view aspect, I will almost always make that change to help soothe the situation. In a way I suppose this is manipulative behavior, but until I start using it for bad, I’m not too worried about deconstructing it.

 

My second assumption is easily deconstructed with the above statements, so I will pass on exhaustively spelling it out. I will say that it ties directly into the “never wealthy” aspect of my family life. Now that I have money, it’s easy to spend.

 

In a way, the last assumption is tied into the instant gratification deconstruction and the “mom’s food” deconstruction. The fact that my brain is okay with letting my body suffer to feel full or fulfilled indicates something inherently wrong psychologically. There are a number of reasons I could pull out as to way I have this desire to be fulfilled, but I think it would be more constructive (in the good way, not the bad way) to explore and discover this assumption with the help of a trained psychologist.

 

It’s scary how comfortable it feels to gratify yourself, even at the expense of bodily pain. It’s a typical addictive behavior, saying “I know this will hurt me, but it will also make me feel good. And it makes me feel way better than it makes me feel terrible, so I’ll just go ahead and do it.” But the brain often doesn’t have the capability to look ahead or outward, especially when fixated on an object of desire. It can’t see that the choices it makes to achieve its fix will cause pain and terrible feelings in other aspects of life. For overweight individuals, the most obvious example is the lowering of self confidence and the diminishing of body image for someone who continues to be overweight. Having to buy new clothes that are bigger than the last time you went shopping, or never finding clothes that actually fit or are fashionable for your size. These are the after effects of your fixated brain’s choice. It’s incredibly harmful.

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