Teaspoon of Happy Heart Over Chemicals Sarah May Bates

Sometimes your brain ain’t your best friend. Self-discipline is really friggin’ hard. Especially when your brain chemicals are gushing full-force telling you to do something that you feel as though you cannot stop doing. I think a sign of strength and maturity is the ability to stop yourself when you feel the most like you cannot. Sometimes this test happens when we are in a lot of pain that we desperately want to get out of, and sometimes it’s simply when we are in the heat of passion or we really want that glazed donut. The secret to everything you wish you could do, or could make yourself do, lies in how you behave in those moments. Do you decide you are powerless or do you decide you are not? Well, the secret to changing a long set trait is being successful just once. Walking the other way, pulling the emergency chord. Listening to a tiny voice inside yourself and changing course when you feel like you can’t.

The enlightenment that I recently had in my own life is this exact realization. People talk about it often and it doesn’t do much to tell another person. “Everything is up to you.” Thanks. Well, I can now see that everything you do is in your power. The key is to get to that realization and be able to access that power when you need it the most. It’s almost like tricking HAL when your whole body is over-ridden. But it’s completely possible, just try as hard as you can to remember to take a new step in the face of this overwhelming chemical urge. You just have to use that emergency chord. Just pull it. Whatever it is – calling a friend, walking the other way, running the other way, having a one-gal dance party. Just remove yourself from that situation and you will slowly regain chemical balance. It actually helps to run or jump or get blood into your brain; maybe hang your head upside down. When my chemicals take over, it’s usually because I want something to medicate myself, or my brain IS medicating myself with endorphins of some kind and they are very overwhelming and or seductive. It’s like we often want to let ourselves be intoxicated, not responsible, not capable. But in the end we really don’t want that for ourselves, we just think we do. It always ends the same way: disappointed regretful “defeat” that was in fact in our power to avoid.

I will summarize my steps again but more simply. When you’re in a place where you’re feeling out of control, listen to that tiny voice that’s screaming in your head to maybe stop and maybe not do this. Then enact your escape plan, no matter how silly and weird it is. Mine is running to downward dog. It’s kind of inconvenient at times, but hey, it works. As my long-time voice of reason put it, “It’s like being in the same room your entire life and realizing there’s been a door behind you the entire time.” Profoundly huge realization.

Stay nice and cozy and hoping you all have a wonderful Sunday.

xoxox Sarah

Featured Image via Brenda Anderson’s Flickr Copyright © All rights reserved by Brenda Anderson

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  1. I struggle with self discipline and I loved this article. I am reading it because my ex is unhealthy for me but won’t leave me alone and I keep letting her walk in, use me, and walk out again but I am tired of it! You’ve earned a new reader!

  2. I needed this post! I was so overwhelmed yesterday and reading this today was heaven sent!

  3. You are always the shiny happy pill of HelloGiggles. I am loving your column more and more. :)

  4. dang girrrrrl. Every once in a while there is an article on here that seems like it was written for me and today, yours wins that position!

  5. I always (always) love and can heavily relate to your posts, Sarah. I tend to think about something (cough cough, someone) and I know it’s only unhealthy for me but, as you put it, it’s often like I want to be or don’t mind being intoxicated. But this is helpful and inspiring, so thank you!

  6. I wonder if the quest to *not* do things is misplaced, and a solution is to have a ready list of easy, beneficial, or at least harmless tasks to do /instead/. Such as downward-dog, or running up a hill, or baking a loaf, playing Eye Of The Tiger, phoning a friend, or putting a dollar in a stranger’s mailbox. (Not to advocate breaking federal law.)

  7. My brain tries to seduce me into thinking I don’t need to work out when I know I really do, and I actually really want to. I’ve learned to give myself a break when I know I really need it, but also to know that sometimes, you just have to listen to your body, and not your brain. And, I’ve thrown many one-gal dance parties in my apartment.

    • Sweet! Love a good dance out. I hear u – sometimes it takes a beat to know if it’s the brain or the body talking, but I usually focus on how I will feel AFTER the fact and that gives me my answer. X

  8. My Sunday morning ritual is now sitting in my favorite chair, drinking my cup of coffee and reading your post, Sarah;)

    I’ve also recently discovered that little voice and am able to back up, take a deep breath and not do the thing that I will regret immediately after, whether it be gorging on the leftover Halloween candy or staying in bed when I need to get up. It’s pretty exhilarating to find that I DO have control. My therapist gave me a little print out that says “The only thing you have control over is where to place your attention.” Truth.

    • Love that!! Here’s another one I like: “no one can make you feel anything you don’t decide to feel” different topic but soooo powerful. Xox

  9. Inspiring words! Although I am far from out of control. I am however not in full control of myself. A bit more self discipline and I know I will feel so much better mentally and physically than the slothenly person I currently am. Though these darkening days (figuratively and literally) don’t help matters and the chocolate, wine and bed covers often beat me into submission and the tiny head voice just wants to snuggle and snooze. However if Rocky III’s music (Eye Of The Tiger) was constantly playing I might just find that extra umph!

  10. Love it!

  11. I always brag how I am the master of self-discipline, how I can refrain myself from doing something that I don’t think it’s right, or doesn’t make sense, or is not good for me etc. And the truth is that I usually can refrain myself. I crack occasionally, especially when chocolate bars are involved, but still. The problem is, sometimes I think that only makes me too uptight, as a person.
    Anyway, thank you, Sarah =)
    PS. One-gal dance parties are the best thing!