During my journey to heal my addictive habits, I noticed a common factor: unscheduled time. I found it incredibly uncomfortable and viewed it as a black void between the present and future. To fill this time, I would rely on my addictive tendencies, such as drinking, smoking, self-harm, or engaging in impulsive behaviors. However, I decided to try a different approach. Instead of seeking distractions, I began to sit and breathe. I allowed myself to simply be in the present moment, occasionally engaging in activities like eating, napping, or writing. It was during these moments of stillness that I realized the true nature of time. Time has its own rhythm and continues to move forward without any effort from me. I don't have to constantly do something to pass the time; like the Energizer Bunny, it just keeps going.
What I learned from these moments of nothingness is that doing nothing can actually be significant. By giving myself the space to rest and reflect, I was able to experience a positive transformation in my confidence, peace, and clarity. This practice allowed me to delve into the root causes of my anxiety and depression. It's a scary place for someone struggling with addiction or mental health issues, but allowing myself this time enabled me to address the immediate factors contributing to my negative emotions and explore deeper underlying causes. It also helped me overcome my tendency to procrastinate. Instead of seeking out distractions or engaging in self-destructive behaviors, I would sit and let my concerns rise to the surface. By promptly addressing these concerns, I prevented them from hindering my progress and triggering negative feelings.
Facing the hard tasks head-on and completing them early in the day had a surprisingly positive impact. I no longer had to carry the burden of stress throughout the day, and accomplishing a difficult task provided a sense of fulfillment and a boost of dopamine, which propelled me forward. So, when I noticed something consuming my worry or overwhelming me, I tackled it with determination. I acknowledge the scariness, but also recognized the potential for fulfillment in confronting it, similar to what I described in my previous blog about embracing scary things. It turns out that our brains register excitement and anxiety in the same way; the difference lies in how we interpret the experience as good or bad. This realization empowered me to train my brain to view these challenges as sources of excitement rather than stress. It may sound unconventional, but it's worth a try, don't you think? By concentrating on the feeling of accomplishment and resolution that comes with completing a task, I learned to tame my inner demons. This mindset shift can be applied to any situation. Work assignments became opportunities to feel alive, and conflicts with friends became chances for connection and adrenaline. I became addicted to problem-solving!
Now, here's the disclaimer. There's always a disclaimer, right? In this case, the lens through which we should view solutions is self-love. We must ask ourselves, "What would someone who loves themselves do?" Any solutions that don't align with self-love are not suitable for us. It's still a learning process to say no to things that are detrimental to our well-being. So, I encourage you to frequently ask yourself this question and follow its guidance. Additionally, our gut feelings are essential in this process. Our stomachs, which contain brain cells, communicate with the brain in our heads. When we experience butterflies in our stomachs, it's actually the gut-brain talking to the head-brain. As we feel nervous or fearful, blood flow diverts from our gut to our muscles, and this physical response conveys the stomach's protest. This is why the stomach is often called "the little brain." The network of neurons in our digestive system allows it to closely communicate with our brain through the vagus nerves, which influences our emotional state.
Being a Benched Sinner means truly understanding our needs and finding healthy ways to fulfill them. Trust your gut and your heart in this process. Our gut, with its own network of brain cells, has a unique ability to guide us. So, when we say "listen to your gut," it encompasses a much broader meaning. Listen to your gut- brain; it knows.
 Hsu, Mark; Safadi, Anthony O.; Lui, Forshing. (2022). Physiology, Stomach. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535425/