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Why Trying to Feel Good Can Make You Feel Bad

Original post from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/tinybuddha/~3/aMgUr-PnU3M/

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” ~Paulo Coelho

We’re bombarded by images of people living apparently perfect lives. They suffer no bereavements or breakups or losses or failures. They look perfect, make perfect choices, and act perfect.

Everyone seems to love them as they sail from success to success, with zero misfortunes, mistakes, or regrets.

So, it’s easy to believe that we, too, need to be perfect.

I had a simple definition of success when I was younger. It was whatever made others admire, or at least accept me.

So, I aimed for better jobs. This was defined in terms of salary.

As a young doctor, I started out in a poorly paid job. I made it through a PhD, then an MBA. The research was impactful, but what excited me as much was that doors opened to me.

Instead of me chasing jobs, they started chasing me. I sought to double my salary. When that happened, I sought to double it again.

This game kept going, and to the world I was a success. My mother took pride in telling people what I did.

My life at home told a different story.

I had to travel a lot at a time when our children were young. Even though I tried to confine that to a week at a time, I was becoming a stranger to them.

A simple incident proved to be a turning point.

I was in our sitting room going through some notes before setting out for work. Our young son was playing. He became noisier and noisier.

My mind was on my notes, and his was on his play.

Then he started running up and down the sitting room. It was going well for him until I reacted.

He was probably imitating some noisy vehicle or airplane. At least that’s what it sounded like to me, as I tried to concentrate on my notes.

As he ran past me, I put my arm out to stop him.

Unfortunately, my adult arm was like a wall to him. Our little boy hit my arm and fell to the floor.

This remains one of the incidents I’m deeply ashamed of.

He burst into tears, and my partner rushed to pick him up and comfort him.

My job continued to be center stage, but the scales were starting to fall from my eyes.

I tried to make it up to him, visiting a motor show together. He loved the shiny cars, including the one Michael Schumacher had driven in the Formula One championship.

As he held my hand throughout our motor show visit, I began to experience more deeply the meaning of the saying “Love makes the world go round.”

The piles of responsibilities in my job began to weigh on me more heavily. I was walking a tightrope of stress, irritability, and worry.

A routine medical exam confirmed what I had suspected: I was an unfit, overweight wreck, in need of medication to keep my heart and circulation in working order. Our family life was far from the ideal picture that our beautiful home must have presented to the world. I was a well-paid but emotionally exhausted wreck.

We talked it over and my partner was very clear. Our family life too was beginning to resemble a wreck. The money was simply not worth it.

We should uproot ourselves and make a new life, whatever that brought.

Since then, I’ve been through many years of life experiences.

I went from being an absentee parent to making time to play with our children nearly every day. That remains one of the greatest sources of satisfaction to me.

I went from measuring success in purely financial terms to a wider definition of success. The spark that had gone out of our marriage was rekindled and the embers grew steadily into a new romance.

My passion for music making had been put on the back burner for years, but I’ve since nurtured it. I try to make some time each day to create music, and have had the good fortune to perform and record with some great musicians.

I started converting all my medical and scientific knowledge into practical actions. I lost inches from my waist and no longer needed any medication.

However, the biggest changes occurred in my inner life.

Stress, irritability, and worry used to bother me. I don’t mean just in terms of experiencing them. I mean being annoyed and angry with myself for not feeling good at all times.

Aren’t we all meant to try and feel good all the time? Isn’t that what makes a good life? Isn’t constant happiness our highest ideal?

We look online or in glossy magazines and see celebrities smiling and laughing on the red carpet. We see sages and gurus glowing. We see so many apparently perfect people living perfect lives.

Why can’t we feel good all the time?

I’ve come to understand that there’s something beyond happiness, something more substantial than a passing emotion.

It’s the joy of doing what you consider to be important and good. It involves recognizing what really matters to you. It involves gladly losing what is less important.

It’s living in better alignment with what you value, deep in your heart.

Does this bring good feelings all the time? No.

Sometimes it brings stress, as when you have to speak out for what you believe is right even when that’s against the tide. Or when you have to keep going when you’d rather give up. Or when you have to give up when you’d rather keep going.

Sometimes it brings low moods, as when everything seems to be going wrong. The stock market crashes, you lose a valued assignment, your friend has a misunderstanding with you, you have a raging argument with your partner, your treasured outcomes simply don’t happen, people don’t keep their word to you, or are spiteful to you, and so on.

Sometimes it brings fear, as when you have to try something you’re not entirely comfortable with or take risks that seem too big. Even the prospect of failure can bring fear.

Sometimes it brings guilt and shame, as when you do something you deeply regret or fail to keep your word.

Sometimes it brings self-doubt, as when everyone else is going left and you’re going right in life.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that the more you struggle to avoid difficult feelings, the worse life can get.

Imagine a great runner. On the track, the runner is invincible. They want to be invincible everywhere.

Put that same runner in quicksand and they’re in trouble.

The more they try to run their way out of the quicksand, the deeper they sink.

The way to cope with quicksand is to stop struggling and lie back. Eventually you’ll be rescued.

It can be the same with difficult feelings. After a point, they become like quicksand. Struggling with them beyond that point just sucks you in deeper.

It’s good to reach for pleasant feelings when they’re within easy reach.

However, when you start beating yourself up for feeling bad, then it’s time to remember quicksand.

Sometimes it’s better to lie back and float than to try and swim. This means allowing yourself to feel the full range of human emotions.

This doesn’t mean wallowing in your feelings. It means just letting them be. Not struggling with them.

You can still do what you consider to be good and important, within your capabilities. That helps take the sting out of difficult feelings.

That helps bring a profound joy that is beyond fleeting emotions.

It’s a kinder, gentler, and more fulfilling way of living. It’s great for your wellbeing, especially when life gets difficult.

Recently our grown-up children joined us for a short family break. We were on a deserted beach. Our son picked up a flat pebble and made it skim the water.

Soon, we were all competing to see who could get the most bounces.

I stood back for a moment, watching the scene, and thought to myself: life doesn’t get much better than this.

I wish I’d known as an unfit and emotionally exhausted forty-year-old what I know as a fit and joyful sixty-year-old. But they say sixty is the new forty. So it’s never too late, or too early, to start living better.

About Joel Almeida

Joel Almeida PhD mentors busy doctors and other professionals to protect the one thing that makes all of life better: their brain. His science-based Brain Care guide reveals 10 one-minute practices for better brain health at any age, with more peace and joy now and lowered risk of Alzheimer’s. Now you, too, can get the guide (free today).

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78 Inspiring Love Quotes

Original post from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ThePositivityblog-PutSomePersonalDevelopmentAndPositivityIntoYourLife/~3/o3smc5xfo_U/

Today is Valentine’s Day.

So I would like to share thoughts about love from the people who have walked this earth before us (and from a few who are still here).

Timeless thoughts written down and spread throughout the decades, centuries and, yes, even millenniums.

Thoughts not only about happy, romantic love but also the love between friends and family. And about the love that is often neglected or pushed to the side: the love you have for yourself.

This is 78 of the most inspiring, touching, thought-provoking and helpful quotes on love.

“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”
— James Baldwin
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
—  Lucille Ball
“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke
“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”
— Morrie Schwartz
“Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.”
— Lord Byron
“If I know what love is, it is because of you.”
— Herman Hesse
“I love you not because of who you are, but because of who I am when I am with you.”
— Roy Croft
“Love is a friendship set to music.”
—  Joseph Campbell
“We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“When we are in love we seem to ourselves quite different from what we were before.”
— Blaise Pascal
“Love in its essence is spiritual fire.”
— Seneca
“The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.”
— Gilbert K. Chesterton
“It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt
“Don’t brood. Get on with living and loving. You don’t have forever.”
— Leo Buscaglia
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
— Maya Angelou
“There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.”
— George Sand
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
— Rumi
“Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart and the senses.”
— Lao Tzu
“You know it’s love when all you want is that person to be happy, even if you’re not part of their happiness.”
— Julia Roberts
“At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.”
— Plato
“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever.”
— Alfred Tennyson
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
— Marcus Aurelius
“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” 
— Helen Keller
“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.”
— Oscar Wilde
“The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love.”
— Henry Miller
“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”
— Oprah Winfrey
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
– Buddha
“You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
— Dr. Seuss
“Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.”
— Khalil Gibran
“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
— Alfred Lord Tennyson
“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.”
— Vincent Van Gogh
“The art of love is largely the art of persistence.”
— Albert Ellis
“If you would be loved, love, and be loveable.”
— Benjamin Franklin
“When you adopt the viewpoint that there is nothing that exists that is not part of you, that there is no one who exists who is not part of you, that any judgment you make is self-judgment, that any criticism you level is self-criticism, you will wisely extend to yourself an unconditional love that will be the light of the world.”
– Harry Palmer
“Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.”
— Euripides
“Love does not dominate; it cultivates.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.”
— Paulo Coelho
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
“A healthy self-love means we have no compulsion to justify to ourselves or others why we take vacations, why we sleep late, why we buy new shoes, why we spoil ourselves from time to time. We feel comfortable doing things which add quality and beauty to life.”
– Andrew Matthews
“We are most alive when we’re in love.”
— John Updike
“The love we give away is the only love we keep.”
— Elbert Hubbard
“The giving of love is an education in itself.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt
“The more one judges, the less one loves.”
— Honore de Balzac
“Love is so short, forgetting is so long.”
— Pablo Neruda
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.”
— Ingrid Bergman
“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”  — Diane Von Furstenberg
“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.’”
— Erich Fromm
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
— Lao Tzu
“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.”
— Sophocles
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see in truth that you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
— Kahlil Gibran
“Love is when you meet someone who tells you something new about yourself.”
— Andre Breton
“Better to have lost and loved than never to have loved at all.”
— Ernest Hemingway
“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
— Elbert Hubbard
“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.”
— Kristen Neff
“Love is a better teacher than duty.”
— Albert Einstein
“True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked.”
— Erich Segal
“If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.”
– Barbara De Angelis
“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.”
— Hubert H. Humphrey
“Every person has to love at least one bad partner in their lives to be truly thankful for the right one.”
— Unknown
“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
– Anaïs Nin
“Love is what you’ve been through with somebody.”
— James Thurber
“The best proof of love is trust.”
— Joyce Brothers
“A woman knows the face of the man she loves as a sailor knows the open sea.”
— Honore de Balzac
“When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits – anything that kept me small.  My judgment called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.”
– Kim McMillen
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.”
— Josh Billings
“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”
— Carl Sagan
“Fortune and love favor the brave.”
— Ovid
“To love is nothing. To be loved is something. But to love and be loved, that’s everything.”
— T. Tolis
“Love is not only something you feel, it is something you do.”
— David Wilkerson
“Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.”
— Wayne Dyer
“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
— Anaïs Nin
“Where there is love there is life.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
— Robert A. Heinlein
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.
“And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.”
— Paul McCartney
“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”
— A. A. Milne
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
— Charles Schulz

What is your favorite quote on love? Feel free to share the best one(s) you have found in this article or in your own life in the comments section below.

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How to Stop the War in Your Head and Find Peace

Original post from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/tinybuddha/~3/5uTp7AM2Upo/

“A mind at peace does not engender wars.” ~Sophocles

There’s a classic Buddhist story about two monks who come upon a woman at the edge of a river. One of the monks carries her across and they continue on their way. Several miles on, the other monk turns to the first and says, “How could you do that? We have made vows never to touch a woman!” The first looks serenely at him. “Are you still carrying her? I set her down at the edge of the river.”

This is exactly what our minds do, if we aren’t careful: We carry our upsets with us long after the original cause is over. (We also pick up imaginary burdens from a future that may never come.) It’s what I call “the war in your head.”

You know what it feels like. On the surface, you are going about your day—at work, driving, shopping, watching TV. But in your mind you’re going over, maybe for the hundredth time, what your boss or neighbor or ex-spouse said last week. Or what they might say or do next week.

Only a sliver of your attention is on what is happening now. The rest of you is in the future or the past, reliving an old battle or imagining a future one.

I say the war in your head, but you will inevitably feel its effects in your body as well. Maybe your throat or your chest is tight, your breathing is shallow, and your stomach feels a bit nauseous. As far as your body’s concerned, you might as well be experiencing the scene in reality: the stress hormones flow just as surely, doing their damage.

When the war is in your head, you are the loser, every time. It doesn’t matter how often you re-fight the battle (or fight it in advance)—you have ceded your peace of mind, and anything else that might be available to you in the present moment. You can wear yourself out, even boxing with shadows.

I learned this the hard way, during and after my divorce. I spent hours, days, weeks, and months with a full-scale war raging in my head. I sleepwalked through the rest of my life to the accompaniment of a continuous background rumble of outrage, pain, and anger.

Most of my energy and attention were sucked up in imaginary arguments with my ex-husband, his lawyer, and the judge. I would go over and over the same ground, inwardly reciting my grievances, telling them off, or spinning down the rabbit holes of innumerable “what if” scenarios. None of it did me any good—the war in my head only added to my suffering.

Eventually I realized what I was doing to myself and laid down my arms in sheer exhaustion. The quiet in my mind was almost eerie, like a battlefield after the ceasefire is called.

Although my divorce continued along much the same lines it had been, I refused to give up my entire life and energy to the fight. I consulted with my lawyer, did what was necessary when it was necessary, and slowly became aware of the life that had been flowing around me, unnoticed and unlived, while I fought my inner war.

The truth is, the war in our heads harms no one but ourselves, and even a small-scale war can have major consequences. How often has someone cut you off in traffic, or made a rude remark that you ruminated on for the rest of the day? How often have you spent anxious hours worrying about a possible outcome that never occurred?

Our mental real estate is too precious to give over to war and strife. Our bodies are too vulnerable to collateral damage. 

Luckily, it is possible to stop the war in your head. The first—and most important—step is to simply recognize when it’s happening and what it’s doing to you. Most of us are so used to the war that we become essentially unconscious of it. It just feels normal.

In the beginning, it will probably take a full-scale battle to get your attention, but eventually you’ll learn to recognize even a minor skirmish. When you do, the next step is to take a metaphorical “step back” from it.

Put yourself in the role of a war correspondent, who is there to simply observe, not participate. You can’t stop the war through resistance—that will only fan the flames. You stop the war by removing the fuel it runs on, which is your unconscious participation.

Imagine a dial that lets you turn down the volume on your thoughts, as if you were viewing a battle scene from a distance.

Take some deep breaths, and let yourself be gently aware of any sensations in your body. You don’t have to do anything about them—just notice them and let them be. Becoming familiar with the negative effects of your mental war will help you to recognize it faster, and also give you the motivation to end it!

If you’re a visual person, try imagining a breeze that blows through your mind, gently clearing away the thoughts… or perhaps waves crashing on a beach, leaving the sand smooth and empty. Then say to yourself: “I choose not to have a war in my head.”

It really can be as simple as that. The war thrives on our unconscious participation. Once you become conscious of it, and make the choice to reclaim your mental real estate, the episodes of war will become both less frequent and less intense.

When this happens, you actually become more effective at solving any actual problems you might have, because your thinking is not clouded by drama and noise. This kind of thinking—without the violent emotions and resistance attached—also doesn’t impact your body the way a mental war does.

If you are tired of the war that rages in your head, join me in declaring a “no-war zone” in your mind and be vigilant in keeping it that way. There will always be events and situations in life that bring up resistance, anger, worry, and upset, but we can choose to be like the first monk and simply set them down rather than carrying them endlessly along with us.

About Amaya Pryce

Amaya Pryce is a spiritual coach and writer living in the Pacific Northwest. Her newest book, How to Grow Your Soul, is available on Amazon. For coaching or to follow her blog, please visit www.amayapryce.com.

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Radical Acceptance with Tara Brach: If You’re Hard on Yourself, Read On

Original post from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/tinybuddha/~3/Ti8ZJjcuMck/

Have you ever thought, “Something’s wrong with me”? I suspect we all have at one time or another.

We’ve thought we’re too quiet, too loud, too eager, too lazy, too sensitive, too dramatic, or generally not good enough.

And social media doesn’t help much. Every time we log on to Facebook or Instagram we’re bombarded with everyone else’s accomplishments, adventures, and best angles, which can easily lead us to conclude our life is somehow lacking—that we are somehow lacking.

From there, it’s just a quick leap to self-flagellation.

We can all be our own harshest critics. We can beat ourselves up for our mistakes, flaws, and failures, as if we’re supposed to be perfect. As if we’re supposed to have everything together and should never have bad days, negative thoughts, or painful emotions.

But this is all part of being human. These aren’t shameful defects to hide or change. They’re realities to accept.

If you’ve found it difficult to accept your humanity and treat yourself with kindness and compassion, you may benefit from Tara Brach’s eCourse Radical Acceptance.

A world-renowned psychologist, author, and meditation teacher, Tara Brach has a talent for helping people embrace the present moment and overcome the blocks that prevent them from giving and receiving love.

Her books and courses have helped millions of people heal and find peace and presence, and this particular course has received close to 600 glowing reviews.

I’m happy to share that Udemy has offered a discount for Tiny Buddha readers, bringing the cost down to just $9.99 (from $14.99) from now until February 19th.

The eCourse includes four and a half hours of on-demand videos, broken down into bite-sized pieces, that you can access any time, anywhere. It’s powerful, easily digestible, and chock-full of life-changing wisdom.

You can get instant access to Radical Acceptance by joining here, and browse through Udemy’s many other course offerings here.

I hope the course is helpful to you!

**Though Udemy is a Tiny Buddha sponsor, you can trust that I only recommend products and courses that speak to me personally. If you have any trouble getting the course for the discounted rate, you can contact Udemy’s customer support here.

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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Breaking the Cycle: Why and How I Stopped Binge Drinking

Original post from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/tinybuddha/~3/UfgqYLm9B6Q/

“Good habits are hard to form and easy to live with. Bad habits are easy to form and hard to live with. Pay attention. Be aware. If we don’t consciously form good ones, we will unconsciously form bad ones.” ~Mark Matteson

I am an extreme person. I have always done things at 100 percent. I worked my hardest in high school in order to attend the best college so that I could attend the best graduate program so that I could get the best job earning the most money. I not only went to these institutions, I did very well at them.

I was also very into powerlifting and bodybuilding—two sports that take extreme amounts of dedication, determination, discipline, and desire.

This fiend-like mentality was fueled by my desire to please my parents. I lived for my parents, always pushing myself to meet or exceed their expectations. I was a people pleaser.

My negative cycle started when I was quite young. I remember being in middle school and beginning to be concerned about my weight and body image. This was probably spurred by prior memories of being picked on as early as grade school.

In middle school, the perfect storm for pain began to emerge. I realized that I could do something about my weight, so I started to lift weights and run—a lot. What I also did a lot of was eating compulsively. This was exacerbated by a rough divorce between my parents, not to mention that late middle to early high school is a time of trial and tribulation for anyone.

Through high school, I would work out like a soldier, restrict my calories, and then binge. Sometimes I would eat until I could not move. This often happened at night, so I could not sleep either. Then I wouldn’t eat for a day or two to overcompensate.

Heading off to college marked another morphing of this cycle. I was getting serious about competitive powerlifting and bodybuilding. I became meticulous about what I ate. I would weigh every single piece of food on a scale and then track the macronutrients (amount of fats, carbs, and proteins in grams) in an excel spreadsheet. I even became the president of the weightlifting club.

I remember not having more than a sampler of beer on my twenty-first birthday because I didn’t want to go over my macros. It went on like this all through college.

During my early months at college, I was so dedicated to weightlifting that I would go to parties and not drink. I can remember people getting uncomfortable around me because of this. At this point in my life, I did not understand that this was their insecurity to deal with. So I let it make me feel awkward and eventually began drinking more and more often.

At first, I had it under control. I wouldn’t drink during the week, or for two weeks before any major exams. But when I drank, I drank a lot.

My pattern continued through most of graduate school. There were a few times when I didn’t drink for a month or two, but usually, it was an every weekend thing. The binge eating and binge exercising continued through this time as well. I would either go for a very long bike ride and then eat everything in sight, or do the opposite.

I consider a time early in graduate school as the beginning of my “spiritual awakening.” I had times of intense consciousness and presence. There were also very harsh periods of loneliness and depression. The cycle of getting anxious, getting depressed, and uncorking continued until graduation.

After a short hiatus, I took a job at a startup company near where I attended graduate school. At first, the old pattern returned similarly. Once things got stressful, my cycle morphed.

There started to be times of excessive drinking during the week. After a long day of twelve to fourteen hours with a team consisting of my boss and myself, how else was I to escape?

I would also binge eat and then fast afterward since I didn’t have the time to do extended bike rides. This was just another way to eat everything in sight and then compensate to prevent weight gain.

During this time in my life, my mindfulness practice was nearly non-existent. There were long periods of anger and frustration. This all continued until I realized that this job was a dead end, got fed up, and quit.

While unemployed, I drank heavily on the weekends, which often led me to sleep most of every Monday away. I continued drinking my weekends away after I found a new job and then added a couple weeknights of drinking. Eventually, I was drinking almost every day and was still binge drinking on the weekends. Something had to give.

Reasons for the Cycle

My mind has always been fertile, with lots of thoughts, ideas, and emotions, which can be very overwhelming at times.

Additionally, I had never dealt with personal issues or traumas that I had experienced, such as my lack of self-love, low self-esteem, or the anger and resentment that I had toward others who had what I thought that I did not When those emotions came up, I would spend long periods of time not truly in the present moment.

By overusing caffeine, I limited my creativity and capacity to think. I was often out of the moment and caught up in a chaotic mental chatter. I would get a boost of productivity with the first cup or two of coffee, and then it was a downward slide after that. I would often end up at the point of paralyzing myself with anxiety about deadlines and things that I could not control.

Alcohol came in to dull this stress that had built up all week. This also suppressed any emotions that I had been feeling, including social anxiety.

Drinking created countless problems. I often slipped into a sporadic, impulsive, and undisciplined lifestyle. I noticed my short-term memory was fading. I tended toward binge eating, especially while drinking or hungover. I stayed up late, throwing off my schedule. Massive schedule swings left me tired, unproductive, and uncreative. Alcohol also limits real human connection, leaving new relationships superficial.

I genuinely feared approaching women in a social setting since I’d been rejected many times before. I feared embarrassment or the awkward moments. So instead of showing them the deep, rich, and intellectual me, they had to experience the alcohol-induced, animal side of my brain and all things that go with that. I am embarrassed to write this, but that is what alcohol does when consumed in excess.

I also justified my behavior by only drinking on the weekends. I recognized some time ago that binging every weekend was taking me until Wednesday to feel normal again and that something might be wrong with that. But it was not until recently that I became driven to do something about it.

This cycle that I speak of comes in an infinite number of varieties. My cycle revolves around alcohol and food. The root is a lack of self-love and general discontent with my mental construct of reality. A cycle can show up as any addiction.

For me, going through such a perpetual cycle came from many things. I had to surface those and realize them with extreme presence and awareness. Mindfulness is a healthy way to deal with the stress and anxiety; alcohol is not.

Ending the Cycle

I got to a point where I thought enough was enough. I had big goals, and this type of lifestyle was not supporting those goals. So I decided to stop, cold turkey, or so I thought.

I ended up quitting for about a month. I reduced my caffeine intake and didn’t drink at all. My energy went up, and I was feeling very balanced and grounded. This new pattern did not last long.

I ended up slipping back into the cycle. This made me realize that this would be tougher than it may have seemed. This setback reinforced how poorly I feel and how much money I waste when I am in that cycle. It was a stark reminder how easy it is to create embarrassing situations while intoxicated.

I now focus on the fact that we must have infinite patience with ourselves. There is no need for negative, self-defeating self-talk.

I have recently been blessed with an opportunity to rebuild my life in a different place with a new career path. I have taken that opportunity and am currently designing my life to include people who are dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle and have an objective of helping others.

I have again stopped drinking with the dedicated intention of not drinking for this month and not binging for the indefinite future. By writing this, I am now held responsible for my actions.

I know it will be an arduous journey to reform my life and habits, but it is less about never drinking or binging again and more about trending toward a life of more balance and less binge.

Reasons for Quitting

The intriguing part is that I am not stopping this substance abuse for me. I am ending it because I found a purpose that is larger than me. I have devoted myself to this, and I need to have a fully functional, focused, dedicated, and creative mind to carry out these things.

I have knowledge and wisdom inside of me that is very useful to others. I can translate it into a modern cultural and societal context in such a way that will be able to get through to and help many people. The rough draft of my first book is complete with many more to come!

I know that my thoughts become negative a couple of days after a binge drinking session. I know that I am not fully present and conscious during the drinking or when I’m hungover. When I am intoxicated, I act in ways and do things that my sober self would never do.

After a week or two of not drinking, I have noticeably more energy and a clearer mind. I realized that I must take charge of my own life and not let others influence me. To get to this point, I had to get fed up with poisoning my body and my mind.

Alcohol is also a complacency tool. It has been given to the masses as a legal substance to numb their thoughts and emotions. It is a destructive way for humans to be able to cope with things that they falsely believe they cannot control.

I must also always keep at the forefront of my mind that I have an alcoholic father and a mother who struggles.

I now focus on mindfulness and gratitude. I have since realized that we are all are extraordinary and unique beings who possess a gift that we must give. Because of specific experiences that we have had, we all have more or less of certain qualities. To be angry or resentful when we do not have these characteristics is unrealistic.

I want to be healthy, and this requires a holistic approach. We can have fit bodies and weak minds, or vice versa. To be truly healthy and happy, we must approach health from the perspective of mind, body, and soul.

All of these components need nourishment. If we fail to nourish one part, then like a plant, it will wither. Knowing how to be healthy is one thing; doing something about it is entirely different.

Personal Takeaways

It is a personal choice to take positive action.
I realized that when people get awkward that you don’t drink, it is their stuff, not yours.
Allowing such an unhealthy, addictive cycle shows little to no self-love.
Health is a holistic thing (physical, mental, and spiritual).
We must keep company who support us in our goals. Choose your company wisely.
Alcohol is a complacency tool. It kills consciousness and creativity.
This cycle I speak of comes in an infinite number of varieties.
We are not alone. Many other people are trying to escape their reality as well.
To cease such a cycle, we must devote ourselves to a larger purpose.

Conclusion

In the end, we are all human. This means that we are fundamentally flawed. We are also creatures of habit. It is easy for us to do something over and over if we feel we’ve gained some type of reward for doing it. This means that it is not uncommon for these habits to be negative, self-defeating, or unhealthy.

One thing that we as humans can do is to shine the light of consciousness upon these cycles that may not benefit us. The shadows of darkness cannot live in the presence of this light. I am not suggesting that shining and holding this awareness is easy. I personally still struggle with this. It is difficult. Life is difficult. With practice, like with weight training, we can become strong, and we can change these patterns.

We can identify our damaging cycles. We can share them with friends and family with no embarrassment or shame. We can choose to focus on what our higher purpose in life is, as we all have one. This will allow us to replace these negative, downward cycles with positive, upward ones that will benefit us and all of the people around us.

About Pete Willette

Pete is a young, energetic, life loving “thoughtrepreneur.” An engineer by training, he has found himself as an inspirational and thought-provoking writer. His primary goal is to help people to lead “grounded and thrilling lives” through thought and idea sharing. His website with blogs, art, and soon-to-be book promotion can be found at www.thelifeodyssey.com.

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The post Breaking the Cycle: Why and How I Stopped Binge Drinking appeared first on Tiny Buddha.