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A Better Way To Respond to Cravings

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When I walk past the mural painted on the side of my local FoodFare, I often experience a very specific and compelling mental image: the silky underside of a Ritter Sport dark-chocolate-with-whole-hazelnuts bar.

I’ve spent a lot of time admiring this particular surface. It’s about three inches square, smooth except for the hemispherical bulges where the hazelnuts show through. The nuts are coated in layer of chocolate so thin it’s sometimes translucent. The top of the bar is less interesting: a standard grid of break-apart squares with a logo on each one. The much more charismatic bottom side is what speaks to me, and the manufacturers evidently understand this, seeing as they print it on the label.

This store offers thousands of items, but I associate it most strongly with this one chocolate bar, in part because it’s my standard “treat myself” item, and also because there’s a needlessly large display of them right beside what is often the only open checkout. This makes it almost impossible to buy anything without having to decide whether this is one of the times I will purchase and eat this 560-calorie ingot of fat and sugar.

Now, apparently, I can’t even glimpse the exterior of the building where this favorite treat lives without its hazelnutty image leaping right into my brain. Like all mental images, it appears larger and nearer than anything my eyes are taking in—the street, the mural, the towering Westminster United church. It’s nearer even than my eyelids, so there’s no looking away.

This involuntary pondering of confectionary possibilities must have evolved at some point. Some hominid, living somewhere in prehistory, was the first individual to be able to somehow see—in his mind!—glistening white grubs and stout mushrooms before he even overturned the log. This strange mental trait would have strengthened his survival chances, but he also would have been perturbed during walks through the forest in a way his peers could never know.

Four hundred thousand years later, his distant descendant finds himself unable to pass the painted brick exterior of a grocery store without experiencing a vivid, magnetic force arising from within his own mind, urging him to seek and devour a nearby hazelnut-encrusted treat, even though he knows it will not aid his evolutionary fitness one bit.  

We don’t choose to crave things. Cravings grip the mind without our consent, forcing us to choose between two uncomfortable responses: resist the pull, or indulge it. Indulging is rewarding but has costs—money, regret, shame, indigestion. But resisting is difficult, and even when you succeed, you feel let down in a different way, like realizing it’s Tuesday after believing for a moment that it was Friday.

The classical response to craving is to be tough and rational. When the mind is gripped by visions of between-meal muffins, or urges to check Instagram while you’re studying, you must gather your willpower and tell yourself no.

I’ve been exploring a third possible response, which isn’t new but is being newly studied as a better way of overcoming cravings. Instead of resisting or relenting, you can get curious about the experience of craving itself.

This strange, involuntary experience that’s prodding you to eat, drink, or bite your nails—what is it? What does it feel like in the body, and look like in the mind? How long do these phenomena last, if you neither resist nor indulge them?

The idea is to observe the sensory experience of your craving with the spirit of a biologist studying a mysterious, elusive animal. This does at least two helpful things.

Firstly, it gives the mind something engaging to do while the craving occurs. If you’re intently observing the craving, your attention isn’t available to become entangled in the should-I-shouldn’t-I rhetoric. You can’t be rationalizing or self-scolding while you’re investigating the physical and mental sensations that make up the craving.

Secondly, the more familiar you are with the life cycle of cravings, the less trapped you feel by them. You begin to see that cravings aren’t impasses that demand a hard choice, they’re sensory events that arise and pass.

Judson Brewer, a doctor and researcher who uses this method clinically, encourages people to continue mindfully studying their experience even as they indulge in the chocolate, cigarette, or impulse purchase. When patients try this, they often report a surprising discovery: the experience of indulging isn’t especially pleasant. When you pay close attention, the chocolate is too sugary to enjoy, or the cigarette actually tastes bad, and uncomfortable feelings often accompany any pleasure.

This suggests that what truly compels us in these moments is the desire to get rid of the craving. We want to return to a mental state unperturbed by strong urges, and we know indulging will do that. But maybe there’s a much less costly path to that same place.  

***

Photo by Gianluca Gerardi


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{ 66 Comments }

Mark Odell February 25, 2020 at 2:39 am

My breakthrough happened when, as a hopeless 20 a day smoker, I stumbled upon Allen Carr’s book ‘The Only Way to Stop Smoking Permanently’. I bought it only because it had around 600 pages and you were told to keep smoking while reading it!

The book examines cigarette smoking from every perspective, as a cultural and social act rather than just the usual ‘it’s killing you’. About halfway through the book it became an effort to finish a cigarette – the taste had changed somehow. By spending a lot of time thinking without judgement about smoking, the attraction of actually smoking had vanished.

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 9:41 am

A friend of mine told me about a similar experience reading a stop smoking book, I think the same one. He said he smoked while reading it and when he put out his cigarette he knew it was his last, and it was.

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Candice March 1, 2020 at 8:45 pm

I wonder if this would work for food, or if there is a similar book for food.

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Mariya February 25, 2020 at 2:56 am

I love that post!
I was a compulsive shopper, which led to..not bad, but not excellent either financial conditions.
I truly enjoy a few items in my wardrobe and I am downsizing to just them.

Now I can control the cravings by reminding myself that I don’t enjoy the actual item, which stays with me long after the rush of buying it is gone.

But before that happened, I trained myself by buying things and promptly returning them, unused, untouched in the bag, in a couple of days.

After a while, the process of doing that got tedious, and it was practically a waste of time, so I stopped.

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 9:43 am

Ah that’s great. I think that’s the important connection to make — realizing that the item won’t ultimately deliver what it seems to promise in the moment of craving.

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Ameen February 25, 2020 at 3:09 am

Your posts are as timely as ever, this happens to be something I’ve been struggling with a lot with recently. Urges are involuntary like you mentioned but they usually, not always, seem to be a product of mental fatigue, bad moods or just going through a distressing time. My urges almost always appear as a result of wanting a brief respite from whatever is causing me anxiety or stress.

Observing the craving like you described seems to be a very useful way to deal with urges, but I wonder if the underlying distress that’s initiating the cravings would require some sort of treatment as well.

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 9:45 am

Probably, yes. Cravings are one output of a very complex system. I know that certain snacking/eating behaviors come and go in waves that relate to what else is going on in my life. Addressing cravings in the moment can break up habits but there still may be a larger underlying issue.

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Richard February 25, 2020 at 3:19 am

This is how I quit smoking 4 years ago Denying myself, saying NO! to that cigarette just made the cravings worse so I embraced the cravings like my favourite pillow and wandered through it looking and exploring and pondering, kind of welcoming the feeling so I could experience it. When I did this and just faced that mind bending urge passively and with a curious, open mind the beast diminished and I could move on until it came again and repeated the exercise.

I was a 40 cigs a day guy for 30 years.

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 9:51 am

Wow, well done. I just calculated 40 x 30 x 365 and it’s almost half a million cigarettes. That’s some pretty strong conditioning to break up, let alone the nicotine dependence factor.

Do you still experience cravings?

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Anne February 25, 2020 at 4:01 am

Mark, Mariya, and Richard, thank you for sharing your very inspiring success stories and congratulations to all of you!

I found this paragraph particularly informative:

“We don’t choose to crave things. Cravings grip the mind without our consent, forcing us to choose between two uncomfortable responses: resist the pull, or indulge it. Indulging is rewarding but has costs—money, regret, shame, indigestion. But resisting is difficult, and even when you succeed, you feel let down in a different way, like realizing it’s Tuesday after believing for a moment that it was Friday.”

This points to the “underlying distress” that Ameen mentions is driving the cravings. Your third way, David, is effective because it heals the trauma of having our minds “gripped without our consent.” We all have PTSD, it’s just a matter of degrees, which means we all have internal trauma healing work to do. These cravings are a doorway into that work.

Thank you for this post, David!

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 10:12 am

Thanks Anne. That makes sense to me. It is really strange to have a mind… this inner space where almost anything can appear without warning.

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Jana February 26, 2020 at 5:54 am

“It is really strange to have a mind… this inner space where almost anything can appear without warning.” This is a surprising and wonderful sentence, yet so immediately plausible.
Thinking about having a mind always bends mine in intriguing ways. My mind thinking about itself. Thinking about my mind thinking about itself…

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Carri February 26, 2020 at 12:23 pm

I agree that the cravings can be a result of “underlying distress”, anxiety, doubt, fear, etc. I’ve discovered through personal observation of my own cravings that I’m actually seeking relief from some discomfort building within my mind and body. I really could use and would really like that dopamine rush! Then all will be well…but, alas, only temporarily. Indulging in those cravings serves to distract from the adage to “know thyself”, and furthers the suppressing and repressing of those things I just don’t want to deal with. So, instead of indulging, I ask myself, “What are you trying to avoid?” Sometimes it’s not so obvious, and there’s something that I need to do that I’m not, like getting outside and moving my body, saying what I wanted to express to someone else, apologizing for something I feel regret for, or tackling a task that I’ve been avoiding…in other words, procrastinating! It’s simply trying to avoid momentary suffering, which only leads to more pain, anxiety, depression, even neurosis! Thank you for your insights, and the reminder to remain consciously aware of what really drives those cravings.

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Pele February 25, 2020 at 4:34 am

It seems that my brain really likes how you articulate things! So many times I’ve read a blog post here, and even if I’ve come across the idea before, all the brain fireworks start going off. I’ve been practicing noticing urges and cravings, and practicing the thought “I’m not denying myself by choosing not to give in to this craving, I’m choosing a longer term goal”. But I think your words and this mindset of curiosity about the craving experience itself aregoing to stay with me and help a lot. Thank you!!

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 10:14 am

Heh… our relationship to our minds and our self-concept makes for some complex politics. Isn’t it odd that we’re such complex creatures we can actually debate ourselves over what actions we’re going to take? We have to make rhetorical cases to ourselves in an attempt to steer our lives to healthy places. So weird.

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Terence Wall February 25, 2020 at 4:35 am

This struck a chord with me, as did the comments posted above. One sentence in particular: “You begin to see that cravings aren’t impasses that demand a hard choice, they’re sensory events that arise and pass.”

When I gave up smoking in my twenties I had tried to break the habit many times but couldn’t bear the thought that I would have to go through the trauma of the craving getting worse hour by hour, day by day, and so on for months. In other works, I believed it was a true addiction.

Of course, in the event, I was not thinking about my craving every minute of the day and only had to overcome the desire to light up when it occurred to me – initially every half-hour, then hourly, then a few times a day, and so on. It was made easier as I didn’t have any cigarettes with me, so I just had to shrug it off for a few seconds until the feeling had passed. Giving up is a matter of seeing yourself as a non-smoker and preferring the image to you as a smoker, with all the social changes that entails – not as easy as it sounds, but not a severe drug addiction.

Smokers want you to remain one of the group, so will ask if you have given up. The best answer is “I’m just not smoking at present”, or they will ask how long you have stopped for, then add a few days or weeks and tell you “that’s when it will really hit hard”.

If alcohol is your craving, you don’t feel you should give up completely but seem to be drinking every day, then don’t keep any in the house (or maybe just one beer) and say “when we really would like a bottle of wine I’ll go out and get a special one”. More often than not you’ll go without, or that solitary beer will satisfy you!

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 10:22 am

Thanks for this Terence. Our propensity to continue with certain behaviors seems to have a lot to do with how we think of ourselves. I experience a major change in the ease of getting myself to exercise once I had done enough of it that I thought of myself as a person who exercises, not just a person trying to exercise.

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Terence Wall February 26, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Thank you, David.

At a tactical level regarding exercise, I find that, if I commit to doing just the first few stretches in my 15-minute exercise routine, by the time I have done that three minutes I am energised to complete the full set. Set partial targets and over-achieve, not absolute targets to fail and give up.

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Daryl February 25, 2020 at 4:54 am

Wonderful! What an insight.

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Nancy February 25, 2020 at 5:29 am

I’ve tried this method of examining my cravings before and it has worked wonders for me. I had forgotten it, though (as I often do if I’m not being mindful) and I’ve recently found myself in a slump of constantly giving in to cravings of every sort. This is an excellent article that has awakened my curiosity again. Thanks.

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Calen February 25, 2020 at 5:47 am

I can confirm that this helped me quit smoking.

I’ve quit twice; the first time for about 4 years, this most recent time for about two now.

The first time, I tried this technique. When a craving hit I would go to my chair and lie down. And then I would just let the feeling of wanting a cigarette wash over me. I’d watch it, and let myself imagine smoking. The act of imagining was actually accompanied by its own small buzz.

The feeling usually left after about five minutes, of its own accord. I did similar mental work my second time quitting but nothing as dramatic since I already knew the drill.

I picked up on another interesting bit of information this way. Wanting feels like pain, without the pain. But only some aspects of it. It’s hard to put into words. Or maybe pain comes with an embedded sensation of wanting that, if you’re attentive, you can easily recognize when it comes by in non-painful circumstances.

Great to hear from you as always.

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 10:28 am

Thanks Calen. Wanting is a strange phenomenon. It’s definitely a kind of suffering, but it also often comes with excitement or anticipation. In an earlier draft of this post I tried to describe my experience of wanting but I couldn’t find a way to represent it. We can get to know it though, even if we can’t describe it. Buddhism is arguably an entire philosophy about examining wanting very closely.

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Vilx- February 25, 2020 at 5:51 am

“If you’re intently observing the craving, your attention isn’t available to become entangled in the should-I-shouldn’t-I rhetoric.” Perhaps, but I can switch back and forth pretty rapidly! :D

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 10:30 am

For sure… attention flits around incredibly quickly. A steady intention to keep it on the experiential side can be enough not to let the rhetoric totally capture you though. Meditation experience helps bigtime.

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Brian February 25, 2020 at 7:15 am

I’ve often noticed that I’ll want to eat something (usually a less-than-healthy snack) even though I’m not hungry, and in that moment I can choose. Less often I’ll actually feel hungry between meals, and instead of saying “I’m hungry” I’ve started saying “I have that feeling I call hunger” that also given me pause and make an active choice (“Yes, I haven’t eaten all day, I’ll eat” or “Hmm, I just had lunch an hour ago, I don’t really need anything.”)

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 10:36 am

I’ve noticed that difference too. For some reason, the language with which we narrate our intentions seems to affect what we end up doing. There’s definitely an interesting connection between wanting and self concept.

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julia kasdorf February 25, 2020 at 7:23 am

David, i love the way you talk about your own foibles and share the insights with us. David craves Sports Bars, just like I crave M&Ms! So i already feel normal and ready to read further. You are never judgemental or patronizing to your readers. Everything I’ve read of yours goes down smooth.

“… you feel let down in a different way, like realizing it’s Tuesday after believing for a moment that it was Friday.” Man, that is exactly right!!

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 10:38 am

I’m glad you can connect with this Julia. I really never know if my internal experience resembles anyone else’s unless they say so.

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Lucy Raubertas February 25, 2020 at 9:20 am

very much in the mindfulness tradition, and also read of on Pema Chodron techniques of dealing with cravings and irritations. Let them pass, they always do, just wait, even itches during meditation fade in a couple of minutes at the most. AA people say the same too.

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 10:40 am

There is a strong connection to buddhist philosophy here, which of course is all about responding to desire. It’s surprising that allowing the craving (rather than fighting it) makes you less beholden to it, but it does.

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Catrina February 25, 2020 at 9:30 am

This is excellent advice, especially for those who have planned to relinquish some indulgences during lent (starting tomorrow).
Thank you, David.

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 10:40 am

Ah I didn’t even realize that!

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Al Mazzoni February 25, 2020 at 9:44 am

I love to read about your daily happenings and what goes on in your head as a result. What I like best is write as an equal and not a guru. You actually enlighten people through exposing your character defects instead of pushing the information on to the reader.

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Al Mazzoni February 25, 2020 at 9:45 am

I love to read about your daily happenings and what goes on in your head as a result. What I like best is that you write as an equal and not a guru. You actually enlighten people through exposing your character defects instead of pushing the information on to the reader.

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Debbie Baker February 25, 2020 at 9:55 am

This is so timely. I’ve returned to Weight Watchers after an 11-month hiatus. I’m three weeks in and doing so well. But the last few days, the oreos, m&ms and other goodies around the office have been talking to me. It’s like there comes a time when I start to convince myself that I’m deprived if I can’t just eat all the oreos I want. Which, is just silly. I didn’t feel well, physically, after eating them. I am excited to shift my mindset today when the cravings hit.

Thank you so much, David!!!

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 10:51 am

I know that feeling… that by resisting the craving you will be entering this state of self-deprivation, which must be a dark and scary place. I can’t quite figure out why that’s such a powerful fear, but I do know what you mean. I think it’s just one way of interpreting the narrative — “I’m stuck between self-deprivation and self-destruction, and both feel bad.” But that’s just one way of thinking about it, and it assumes there are only two responses to craving.

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John Khalil February 25, 2020 at 10:07 am

This particular part resonated so so much with me:
“This suggests that what truly compels us in these moments is the desire to get rid of the craving. We want to return to a mental state unperturbed by strong urges, and we know indulging will do that.”

I want to share with you one of the most resonating posts I have ever read—certainly the most in 2019. A major light for me. I was living so much out of scarcity, and not out of abundance. In food primarily, but in so many other aspects of my life because this transcends, naturally. Changed my life.

HOW TO ENJOY WITHOUT GOING OVERBOARD
https://www.aestheticsofjoy.com/2019/11/how-to-enjoy-without-going-overboard/

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 10:52 am

I will read it, thanks John.

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 11:20 am

Wow, that was really excellent.

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John Khalil February 25, 2020 at 12:00 pm

Really glad enjoyed it, David. Thanks for the Twitter mention + follow, as well.

Thank you for your service.

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Marie Barger February 25, 2020 at 10:21 am

Am I the only one disappointed that there are Oreos In the picture and not the Ritter Sport? I salivate as I think of it. The dark chocolate hazelnut is my favorite. I choose to eat it 4 squares at a time when all is quiet and I can sit and enjoy every bite. I like how the chocolate to nut is proportional throughout the entire bar. These posts are great that many quit smoking, shopping etc. Sorry I know the point of the writing was the opposite of what I am thinking and I appreciate your writing. Mindfulness can bring many things into control but it can also enhance what you truly like. I just truly like Ritter Sport hazelnut.

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 10:54 am

I tried to find a royalty-free photo of Ritter Sport and I don’t think they exist. The hazelnut version is a think of beauty. Anyone who is unfamiliar can ogle it here: https://www.ritter-sport.de/en/products/detail/Dark-Whole-Hazelnuts

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John Khalil February 25, 2020 at 12:39 pm

I agree with Marie—would have been great to show the actual chocolate bar. Is it that big a deal to use someone else’s photo and sub caption it giving photo credit? I imagine simply removing the photo would satisfy the person in the small chance they do come across this post. You know more than I do.

The ‘ingot’ word usage was incredible, btw. Had to Google it. Lastly, I’m also a Ritter Sport fan, with Rum Raisin my favorite. That chocolate is quality.

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 1:32 pm

Ritter Sport probably wouldn’t mind, but I make it a policy not to use photos without permission. I just don’t like the feeling of doing it knowingly.

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Carri February 26, 2020 at 11:55 am

You could not take your own photo of your own Ritter Sport bar? Especially effective, perhaps even “triggering” for some, would be a close-up shot, detailing all those idiosyncrasies of said chocolate bar.

David Cain February 26, 2020 at 3:45 pm

In hindsight that would have been a great excuse to get one. Next time.

Tara February 25, 2020 at 12:58 pm

Great article! I have an issue with scarcity mentality, so I tend to overbuy things I don’t really need. Oddly this doesn’t happen with food, I’m easily able to control any food cravings, but other categories (clothes, shoes, cosmetics) I tend to go overboard. I’m definitely aware that the act of buying is rarely pure pleasure, there is almost always shame and judgement associated with it because I know it’s excessive. So I’m definitely going to try this observation technique and just watching and waiting for the craving to pass. A big trigger for me is sales though, feeling like I have to make a decision right now or miss out, so that will be an extra challenge. I’m going to use the abundance mentality mentioned in the article above to remind myself that these things will always be available to me in the future.

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David Cain February 25, 2020 at 1:40 pm

It’s interesting how we all have our own things, and I suppose it depends on our personal histories. I have always had a thing with food, I’m not sure why.

I really liked that abundance post and will try to internalize that mentality.

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Linda Hoffecker February 25, 2020 at 12:59 pm

Oh Thanks, David~ Just another craving I have to study!! lol Looks scrumptious.

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Lizziv February 25, 2020 at 3:03 pm

I figured this out when I noticed that I always wanted to buy trendy things at a particular store. I decided to start leaning into the desire to buy the thing: feel the craving, imagine owning it, perhaps even try it on if it’s clothing. But I don’t buy it unless I was already planning to. After some adjustment, I actually really enjoy this “window shopping” now, and rarely feel compelled to buy the thing. Interesting enough, I never considered trying it with food cravings, but perhaps I shall now!

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David Cain February 26, 2020 at 9:44 am

That’s interesting… enjoying the mental play of buying and owning the thing. I’ve actually done the opposite, which also works — imagining the steps in buying, taking home, and using the thing. Often by doing that the excitement goes away, because I can see that it will peak quite early in that process and not leave anything lasting.

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Downunder Dad February 25, 2020 at 6:36 pm

Great read, thanks David. Just quickly, had to share, I was literally biting my fingernails when I read the part about biting fingernails, hahaha! :)

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David Cain February 26, 2020 at 9:44 am

Haha… that’s why I wrote that part

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Klarita February 25, 2020 at 11:46 pm

Thanks for this post David. I love reading your articles, not only for the wisdom I so often find in them, but also for the sheer pleasure of your writing. It’s witty, but humble and genuine. Thanks!

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David Cain February 26, 2020 at 9:45 am

Aw thanks Klarita

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Peter February 26, 2020 at 9:12 am

I think this is the same process that Leo Babauta explains in his posts over at Zen Habits. Basically being mindful and observing your body, your emotional state or your involuntary physical reactions when encountering discomfort or stress in your life can help a lot.
Your explanation about the working mechanism makes total sense: keeping your mind busy with studying the situation and also feeling more empowered becouse of familiarity.
Maybe the fact that you’re sort of observing the scene from a third person’s perspective also has a positive effect.

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David Cain February 26, 2020 at 9:46 am

Definitely, and I do it a lot. Everything passes, even though it seems like it won’t. Observing feelings and experiences makes it a little more obvious.

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Sharon Hanna February 27, 2020 at 1:37 pm

Hello David and Folks. Very apropos….for me, it’s wine (or other alcohol). It’s also meaningful human interaction….anyhow watched something amazing yesterday that I am pretty sure you and your readers would love. It’s on Netflix – Chef’s Table. A Korean Buddhist nun called Jeon Kwan. It’s in the 3rd series. Wow, wow, and wow again. I’m now eating my lunch with chopsticks after having harvested some collard leaves from the garden. Instead of a Costco hot dog ;-)

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David Cain February 28, 2020 at 9:36 am

Meaningful interaction sounds like a fairly healthy craving. I should switch to that from chocolate… Looking forward to watching the show :)

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Kirsty Karkow March 1, 2020 at 7:52 am

I was a closet smoker and just a few a day. Then a book found me. Self-Mastery through Self Hypnosis. It’s an old book, still available. I learned that the unconscious mind will not accept a negative. So. ” I will not smoke any more” is useless. Equally so with any cravings etc. I applied the idea and woke one morning KNOWING that I would never want another cigarette. I went on to apply this to other issues and it always worked. I even got trained as a hypnotist. Interesting, eh?

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David Cain March 2, 2020 at 10:00 am

I have never experimented with hypnosis, but “the unconscious mind will not accept a negative” seems true to me. The mind has to know what it’s supposed to do… “not doing” isn’t a real thing you can picture, or train yourself to do, it’s an abstract concept.

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m2bees March 8, 2020 at 5:35 pm

Ahh, yes, those pesky negatives! I realized that when I quit smoking, that I’d have to find a way to get to my mind. So I chose “Thank heaven I am a non-smoker”. So far so good, 25+years and counting. :)

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Carolyn March 1, 2020 at 9:40 pm

Thanks for this article! I passed a Starbucks today, and I know I would usually want to stop in for a “treat.” What worked well for me was to almost think of the experience as exposure therapy, noticing what I was feeling (the craving), knowing that I wasn’t going to buy anything, and bringing consciously to mind how excited I am to have this chance for “exposure,” to feel the trigger and not follow it but just notice it. It’s a similar idea to the one you proposed, but slightly different in that with each exposure, we can hope for less of a craving, so it becomes this positive moment. I was also really struck when I took a step back from the craving by the blue sky and the fun of walking with my daughter to a ballet show and just the wonderfulness of the moment. Somehow, I often delude myself that I need something “just for me” to feel happy, but just noticing that I was already feeling great and looking around was all it took to bring myself into full gratitude for a warm day with an awesome kid and a fun show to see!

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David Cain March 2, 2020 at 10:06 am

Yes, there is something so insidious going on when we believe that indulging the craving is somehow generous to ourselves. When you consider the fact that things were often just fine _until_ the craving happens, it clearly is no longer about getting somewhere better, but just back to where we were before the craving struck.

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John Baglio March 10, 2020 at 9:15 pm

I have been casting about for a “3rd way” for a long time. I have a weakness for sweets (dark chocolate with whole hazelnuts is MY favorite Ritter too!!). I know that willpower has not worked for me. I feel gross after indulging in that late night cereal. As with a lot of things, the mindfulness approach seems promising. Thank you for this.

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David Cain March 11, 2020 at 11:18 am

I hope it is helpful to you. Best of luck!

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