If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.” –Bernard Baruch (American financier and philanthropist)
Nicole decided to give up sugar for a week. I didn’t have to join her, but it sounded like an interesting experiment so I thought I would show support by giving up sugar for a week, as well. Solidarity!
Giving up something is not easy. Our lives are so full and there is so much junk and baggage all around us (emotional, spiritual, mental, and material). Whenever you give something up, you essentially try to create space, either for something else or just to have breathing room.
The funny thing is, when you create a clearing for something in life, that space is immediately filled with the excess baggage, junk, and clutter the same way clearing a space in a pond is immediately filled with water when you pluck a rock from the bottom. What fills that space is what is already surrounding the space, whatever is pressing in from all sides.
For me, only a few minutes after giving up sugar, everything looked like a lollipop! All I could think about was sugar. I wanted a Pepsi, a scoop of ice cream, a sugary latte, Cap’n Crunch, a brownie, anything!
I made it through the day, but not until I realized the problem wasn’t a desire for sugar. My problem was not protecting that clearing and letting something else fill the space instead.
This same effect happens when we try to give up anything, like smoking or alcohol, for example. When you give up smoking, all you want to do is have a cigarette. Your day is consumed by trying to rationalize why you should have just one or just a few hits or screw it–you can quit tomorrow, etc.
We struggle because we made the clearing but forgot to protect the space. We must consciously choose what goes in that space or the brain will choose the easiest solution by default–usually, whatever was there before! If that is not an option, then the alternative default setting is boredom, and our brains avoid boredom more than anything else.
Once I recognized that I was not protecting my space, especially when I was feeling bored mentally, I found other things to do. In place of my sugary thoughts, I jumped into work (there’s always plenty of that), then I left the house to meet friends, and, of course, I blogged.
It turns out sugar is not something I need. It’s just something I use to fill the space of a much worse habit: that awful boredom.
Remember, when you clear space for something in your life, you must protect the space by consciously filling it with something better (exercise, a different habit, meditation, writing, etc., whatever works better for you). Our default baggage is boredom or just going back to what was already there.
Whenever you drop a habit, be quick to put what you want there in your life and then protect that space so it can grow! If you are doing that, you’ll probably never be bored and will struggle much less.