The “acting out” (engaging in an activity that you consciously didn’t want to engage in) usually starts out with a trigger, which is interpreted by your brain at a subconscious level, and results in a strong emotion, such as excitement. Only then do you get a thought in your conscious brain!
Think about it! In our society, most of the people hold a belief that we are primarily motivated by our thinking. This, however, is not entirely true! In fact, as much as 90% of our daily behaviors are motivated by our subconscious brains.
To make things worse, once our body begins a chemical response, it overrides our cognitive ability. Meaning, we still are aware of what is going on, but unable to make an accurate, rational evaluation of our behavior and upcoming consequences.
Immediately after the internal chemical release, our body begins to change (we will talk more about it in upcoming sections). This really is our last line of defense.
The second thought is our last chance to realize what is happening and to take emergency actions to save ourselves (we will talk a lot more about this as well).
If we were not able to break the cycle, chances are we will end up giving in, and engaging in the behavior.
After the “acting out” part is complete, our brain goes off the auto-pilot, and we are back to our normal selves. This is when we are usually able to look at the situation logically, and realize what has happened.
A common reaction to this realization is to feel intense negative emotions, such as guilt and self-hatred. This approach, however, only strengthens our addiction. It keeps us from taking constructive action.
Remember, we do bad things, but we are not bad people!
Did you notice that I skipped one of the items on the list – vulnerable time? Mark Kastleman, founder of Candeo Can, came up with an acronym BLASTed, which stands for: Bored, Burned Out, Lonely, Anxious, Afraid, Angry, Stressed, and Tired.
Another acronym that is commonly used in the 12 steps community is HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.
During the vulnerable times, our conscious brain loses the ability to see things clearly. That is when our subconscious brain is more likely to take over. And we already know where this is going to take us.
You can avoid vulnerable times by beginning to take good care of yourself. Simple things like getting plenty of sleep, eating properly, drinking enough water, and journaling to de-clutter your brain can go a long way. In the future chapters, we are going to talk a lot more about things that you can do to bring about peace and calmness into your life.
In the next chapter, we are going to take a closer look at how the human brain has developed over time.
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