So many of us find that we are avoiding our negative emotions by buffering. Buffering is eating, drinking, shopping, scrolling or anything we do to distract ourselves from what is really happening inside of us. There is always a negative consequence to these behaviors.
To be able to change this and really live an authentic life, we have to recognize it and then choose to stop. When we stop, all the negative emotions will still be there, but we will be ready for them. We are strong. We are confident. We can live our best lives.
100 Allowed Urges Worksheet: http://smoothstonescoaching.com/100-urges
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Misic by Zingdog on Pond5
Hey everybody. Welcome to December. It’s, the days are just going so fast. My son made a paper chain that was fun. Um, he, we kept having to ask Siri how many days it was till Christmas. And finally we made a paper chain for him so he can see for himself. We’ve talked a little bit about grief in the holidays, and I wanted to touch on another subject that seems to come up a lot during this time of year.
We call it buffering in coaching, and I’m gonna explain what that means. It’s basically when we use external things to change how we feel emotionally. So it’s something we use to hide, to procrastinate, to not show up in our lives fully, right? We don’t wanna feel any negative emotions, so we just use outside pleasures and outside things to kind of numb that down and distract us from it.
The things we do are like eating, snacking, treats. A lot of people shop. We try to stay busy with lots of things. Maybe we scroll social media. All of these things keep us from our real lives. A few other examples are obviously drinking or doing drugs, or even watching pornography. They bring up a lot of pleasure.
The pleasure of the food, the taste, the way we feel when we drink alcohol. The little dopamine hit we get when we buy that really cute sweater online. Our world is kind of set up like this right now. This is a huge cellar, right? There is a lot of money to be made from all of these false pleasures. The reason they’re so enticing is because they’re actually concentrated more than what naturally we would get.
So for example, eating an apple is pleasurable, but eating a symphony bar is just that much more pleasurable. Um, that might be one of my weaknesses because our brain is wired for survival. It thinks that if this is pleasurable, like the apple, The chocolate is so much more pleasurable. The chocolate must be good.
So it’s gonna keep reminding us to go back for those pleasures. And so the more we eat, the more we drink, the more we shop, the more we Instagram, the more we kind of crave it. And so it becomes this problem in our lives when we start to see negative results from it, we. Find that like we’re wasting so much time or we’re wasting so much money, or our health isn’t good, or we’re dealing with hangovers, or all of those things that come with overindulging in these false pleasures.
But the truth is there’s so much value in. Wading through those and working through them and finding the true pleasures in life like that. Less is more attitude is really where you’re gonna find the truth of your life. When would we even be willing to give up a false pleasure or when would you start to recognize that, Hey, maybe this is becoming a problem in my life?
Right. Well, you are gonna know when you’ve hit that point. I mean, Sometimes people don’t know, but I think deep down, we all know when things are becoming a problem or distraction. We’re trying to stuff down our emotions with these other things that we’re doing. But if you know that giving them up is really when you start to experience the truth of your life, right?
If you’re not drinking, Your mind’s gonna be more clear. If you’re not eating all the time, you’re gonna feel better. If you’re not spending your money on all the ads that pop up on the internet, you are gonna be able to spend it on things that mean more, that are more lasting. You’re not gonna be just, your closets are overflowing and your bank account’s empty, and you still aren’t happy in your life.
We wonder, well, what’s left? If I stop doing those things, what would my life even be like? This is a great question to ask yourself, like if you weren’t overworking, overspending over Facebooking, what would it look like if you had a true, honest, and authentic life, and are you willing to give up those false pleasures to find the answer to that?
And I think that for us who’ve experienced grief, it takes it to another level because we’ve experienced very deep emotions and a lot of us have had some sort of trauma and our hearts have been broken. It really seems like a little bit of chocolate is just gonna get us through the day, and that we need those things that if we.
Let go of what we’re doing, then it’s just gonna be intolerable. We just won’t be able to handle those emotions that we’ve been numbing down, especially if it’s been a while that you’ve been doing this. I remember after my miscarriage with River, so it was a mis miscarriage and we had a D N C and there was a whole bunch of stuff that went on and.
I’m generally pretty healthy, but I remember just being very aware that I was eating my feelings. After that, I just, I didn’t even care. I was angry, I was upset, I was sad. I just, I just didn’t think it was fair that we had lost another baby, and I’ll go into that another day, but, I remember, I just didn’t even care.
I didn’t care that I was eating my feelings. And if you’re eating your feelings or drinking all of that, I don’t want you to judge yourself. We’re not here to judge. I just want you to decide, is this worth it? Is it having a negative effect on my life as a whole? Because there are companies and everybody out there, they’re telling us, no, no, no.
You need to just do this, drink this, buy this, and you’re gonna feel better. And if we give into all of those things, all of those impulses and those urges, we’re not able to truly experience our life. I think when you numb down those negative emotions, you’re also not allowing yourself to feel the true positive emotions.
Right? And when we try to give it up, of course it’s gonna feel worse ’cause our brain is still freaking out. Like, no, you need it, you need it, you need the Diet Coke. You can’t get through the day without your coffee. You, you have to have this thing. The truth is life is hard. There’s always gonna be 50% negative and 50% positive emotions.
So why not just indulge in all the things? That’s a question you need to ask yourself. Why wouldn’t you just indulge in everything? Well, if we could do that with no consequences, right? Like eat, drink, and be merry. ’cause tomorrow we’re gonna die and it’s all fine and good. Nobody would care. But there are consequences.
There’s always a negative consequence. The buffer that we’re choosing to do is gonna have a momentary pleasure, but generally it has a long-term negative effect, right? In the long-term, it’s gonna cause pain, like drinking too much feels good in the moment, but the hangovers and the damage to your body is not gonna be good.
Like we said, the overspending. It feels good in the moment, but over time you don’t end up with a, with the result that you like, so you’re always gonna have to pay in one way or another. On the other side of that, eat, drink and be merry attitude is when you choose to take away those buffers and pursue wellbeing.
You’re gonna come out much better on the other side. So this is the opposite. Those false pleasures, they always end up with a negative result, but pursuing true pleasure and wellbeing is always going to be much more sustainable over time. Right? Would you allow yourself to feel your emotions and get to know yourself in a much deeper way?
That is going to have a ripple effect in everything you do, right? That is worth it. When you actually dive in and find out why you’re doing these things and why you’re feeling this way, you are going to be able to recognize what is the cause of your unhappiness and what can you do to change it in the long term, like when you choose to be healthy.
You’re gonna be healthy for the long haul. You don’t have to worry about your weight, you don’t have to worry about diabetes. You don’t have to worry about all of the things that come with overeating. When you stop drinking. You don’t have to worry about the hangovers, and again, the damage that comes from it.
You’ll still get upset when you give up your buffers, but you’re gonna deal with it differently, right? Instead of after. You get frustrated with your kids. You head for the ice cream, which is gonna end up making you feel sick or whatever. You’re gonna go into your thoughts. You’re gonna self-coach. You’re gonna examine why you got so frustrated and why you reacted the way you did.
So after practicing that for a while, you might not even want the ice cream. You might think about it, you might want it, but you don’t need it like you do when you’re just letting your brain run wild and you’re responding to all of those urges. This is where we start taking care of ourselves and we start really fueling ourselves with the important things.
When you do this, you’re gonna get a lot more confidence because it’s really disempowering when you rely on something to get you through the day. Like I can’t function unless I have coffee in the morning or unless I have my little treat at four in the afternoon. I need a break. You know, I need a mental break.
I gotta just scroll social media for a little bit when things are getting crazy. Once you realize you don’t actually need all those things, you’re gonna have so much more confidence in your ability to handle your negative emotions, your grief, anything that comes up, and that’s when we’re going to become.
The best version of ourselves, that’s when we’re gonna find true happiness is when we’re not using these buffers to try to escape our lives. When we’re in that mode of pleasure seeking, we’re really self-centered, right in the way that we can’t give. We can’t show up the way we want to ’cause it’s all about us and getting that dopamine hit and distracting ourselves.
And all of it. So we’re always taking in a mode of just take, take, take, and I need to eat. I want to buy things I want to drink, and it just goes around and around and it never ends. If you’re trying to escape, you’re always going to be escaping. So what if you imagined your life without the things you used to buffer?
So some of us might have all these buffers and there are tons of them. I mean, and some of them seem very worthwhile, like exercising, right? Exercising on the whole is good, but if you’re using it as a way to escape your life, And to get away from things and to get away from feelings. If you’re using it to distract yourself, sometimes it’s, it is a buffer.
What are your buffers? What are you using in your life to escape those feelings that you don’t wanna feel? Sometimes it’s the grief, it’s the hard stuff. It’s the pain. Sometimes it’s just the frustration or the annoyance, right? Like if you’re just annoyed with somebody. Well just go get a little treat and you’ll be able to handle it better.
When you imagine this, it might seem scary or it might seem just miserable to take that thing away from yourself, and you might think you can’t survive without it, but you can. I promise that you can. I remember, so I grew up in a place where the legal drinking age was 18 years old and I don’t drink, um, because I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and we don’t drink alcohol or coffee or do a lot of things.
And I remember my friends just saying to me, how can you even have fun? How can you have any fun when you don’t drink? They just couldn’t even fathom that you could enjoy yourself, that you could laugh, that you could do whatever you wanted and not have to have some alcohol. Because alcohol was such a big part of the culture where I grew up, and so maybe for you, you have that thought too, like how could I get up in the morning and not have coffee?
How could I. Get through the day without a Reese’s Peanut butter cup outta my drawer or whatever. It seems like it would be impossible, but ultimately what’s gonna happen is you’re gonna feel the emotion that you’re avoiding, right? Whether it’s tiredness, or annoyance or grief or frustration. You’re gonna feel that emotion, but you’re not gonna have the negative effect.
Of the buffering activity, you’re not really dealing with those emotions. When you buffer them away, you’re just avoiding them. So they’re still there and they’re still waiting for you. But when you take away those buffers, you actually get to deal with the root problem, and you’ll find that you can tolerate it and you actually can.
Makes so much progress when you look it in the eye, and I am not gonna say to any of you that you need to stop whatever you’re doing. This totally has to be your choice because sometimes it works for us, right? We don’t need to judge, or it seems like it’s working for us to use these buffers. But if you’ve hit a point where you’re like, you know what, enough is enough.
I think I’m ready to let go of these buffers. Then. There’s so much you can do moving forward to make your life even better than you could have imagined, right? You get to be authentic. You get to be you. Even though the real you has to deal with some negative emotions. The real you might struggle sometimes the real, you might be tired or frustrated or sad.
What if that was okay? What if you knew that you could handle any of those emotions, and you also knew that when you shine a light on them and you look ’em straight in the eye that you can get through them and you can get past them, then you have so much freedom, then you’re gonna be able to show up as your whole self.
What could you do if you weren’t relying on these buffers? What would be different? Think about what you’re so afraid of feeling. What is that that’s holding you back? A lot of people who have lost children like we have, Sometimes we’re even afraid to feel the happy feelings, right? We almost wanna keep ourselves miserable and stuck because the grief is what ties us to our baby, or in our mind, it just seems like if I let go of this sadness, if I stop punishing myself and my body, if I stop doing all of these things and actually take a step into the future and actually allow myself.
To live a beautiful full life, that means I’m forgetting my baby, or it’s not fair because my baby doesn’t get to live this life. I just need to punish myself some more. Or we’re punishing ourselves because we think it’s our fault and we don’t have the right to move forward and be happy, so we’re just gonna.
Not take care of our body and we’re not going to take care of our finances, and we’re not gonna put ourselves out there because we blame ourselves. And what would happen if you could let go of that blame for once, for and for all? I know that this is a big deal with those of us who have been through this.
I get it, but I promise you, when you can let go of those buffers and you can get. Down to those negative emotions and figure out why they’re there, and work on them and work through them. That suffering can be lifted and you can find what you truly want. You can truly live your life to the fullest and you can truly be there in the way you want to.
For your angel life is gonna be hard, and we know that, but when we’re not afraid to feel anything, it is so much easier, right? We have two options. One where you believe you should always be happy and you use the buffers to try to stay. On the happy side, right? We’re just trying to avoid it ’cause we think we should be happy all the time.
So we’re just gonna do all these things that supposedly make us happy. The other option is you recognize that life is half positive, half, half negative, and you allow that and you listen to yourself, and you listen to your brain and your body and you manage your emotions as they come, right? Another big one is anxiety.
Is another one. We try to buffer away, try to distract ourselves so that we don’t feel anxiety, but when we push it down, we just make it worse and we have the consequence of whatever buffering we’re doing. Like if we’re drinking just to be able to handle dealing with being in a social situation, we have to deal with the consequences of that.
Your emotions are gonna indicate what’s going on with you, and so it’s really important to listen to that. Instead of trying to push it away, that’s how we become authentic. So we have these choices and giving up the false pleasures and the buffers so you can enjoy the full pleasure of wellbeing is the best feeling in the world, right?
Because you’re confident and nobody can take that confidence away from you. And if you just try it and believe that you could. Do anything you wanted. You could give up any of these activities or any of these foods or any of it if you really wanted to do it. So I’m gonna end with a little analogy, which I think is really, really enlightening.
This is like walking into a house that is a mess, and the easiest answer to this mess is turn off the lights. Don’t even look at it, and the mess will go away. And this is buffering. Buffering is turning off the lights so we don’t have to see the mess, but the mess is still there. It’s not going anywhere.
So it’s the same with emotions, right? If we hide from the emotions, if we push those emotions away, we’re just not seeing it. We’re not feeling it. We’re not dealing with it. And we pretend it isn’t there, but it is there and it’s there for a reason. All emotions have a cause, so we need to stop buffering and turn the lights on.
The next thing to remember is that yes, the mess seems really overwhelming, but we can handle it. We can deal with it, we can clean it up, but if the lights are still off, we’re not gonna be able to clean it up very effectively. So we have to turn on the lights and we have to clean up that mess. After we do that, we’re not gonna wanna turn the lights off anymore.
We’re not gonna wanna hide from it, right? And you are gonna have a life where you are proud to keep the lights on in your house. So I just wanna leave you with that. If you have buffers that you’ve found are really affecting you, that you’re tired of. That you’re tired of spending the money. You’re tired of eating unhealthily, you’re drinking too much, you’re wasting a ton of time on social media, just avoiding your feelings and your real life that’s going on around you.
Send me a message. I would love to talk to you and. Work on how we get over these buffering activities. Now, if you decide to go ahead and stop some of these behaviors, just expect that your brain is gonna freak out. So I have a worksheet for you that is called a hundred urges worksheet, and what you’re gonna do is you need to try to get to a hundred urges without answering it.
So whether that’s picking up your phone, Or picking up the chocolate. I want you to go to my website and I’ll put a link in the show notes and you can get this worksheet and I want you to fill it out. So every time you have that urge, you let it be there. Don’t answer it, and just write it down and try to get to a hundred.
Allowed urges for whatever those things are. Maybe you have one specifically, or a couple of them, but just see during this season where it is excess, it’s all the shopping, all the food, all the alcohol, all the buffers. All the keeping busy so we don’t feel sad during the holidays. What if you just allow those urges and see what happens?
And maybe this is the last December where you feel like you’re under the control of these buffering activities. I promise the freedom is amazing. But if you have any questions, I would love to answer ’em for you. And I will talk to you next time.
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