Yesterday was my first day without pot in at least a month or two. It felt really great to take control and act! Time to hit the impulse control button.
At night, as I lay there, I was thinking about how these habits that get in my way like pot, how they get entrenched in my mind.
I think the process is as follows:
- I feel a lack of pleasure in my life or just have a random urge to do something wacky.
- I respond by indulging in a drug or other bad habit causing item.
- I repeat the experience and it becomes habit
- I experience cravings and triggers.
- I notice the negative effects but the urges are strong and it becomes inconvenient to quit.
- A slow progression occurs until the negative effects are strong enough that I quit.
- I go overboard and end up looping around to step 1 again.
I notice that there is no stable “moderate” place in this progression. My cycle resembles others’ experiences, as I found with a google search.
These cravings all have a similar urge or feeling to them. Whether it’s smoking pot, overeating, drinking whiskey, masturbating to porn, smoking cigarettes, all these are fun and easy, but they cripple me or limit my achievement in other areas that are important to me. The actual experience of a craving is brief but powerful. The feelings or thoughts are pretty intense, like “if I don’t do this pleasurable thing, then my life is boring and unpleasant, and I’ll become Mormon or have my LLNL life again.”
My life as a Mormon and all throughout work at LLNL was very productive, healthy and stable, but each reached a limit. As a Mormon, I finally woke up to the falsehood, and at LLNL, I think I just hit step 1 above.
One thing I noticed that when I decided to not smoke weed, my whole impulse control got better. My diet improved and I didn’t drink and studied and got a few more things done today. I don’t know if it was just that the pot was gone, which is notorious for reducing motivation and increasing appetite, but also I think there was a knock-on effect from thinking “I’m doing something good” which spilled over into my other areas of life and inspired me to give it a bit more effort.
Another effect was in my dreams: I have been having nightmares for months and my dreams were much nicer last night. Again, I think this is because my mind knows I am pursuing a higher self, and that space is where I like to be. I don’t like wallowing in the shallows; I prefer to be pursuing the higher callings and better aspects of my life, what Seneca calls “virtue.” In particular, there is a way of thinking and being that I like which involves being active in improving and doing good things as I see it in the moment. “Leaning in.” When I’m not doing that, I worry and feel a bit sick and scared; thus the nightmares I think. Also I ate less and overeating causes bad dreams.
My goal now should be to have the right balance between fun and productivity, because when I don’t get things done I really do feel much worse. As a practical matter, I would like a set of habits that allow me to dabble in outrageous and risky fun while always having super clean days without drugs or cravings. I think the answer is to have “cleanse days” every week. Minimum of three absolutely clean and healthy days per week where I avoid all habitual and sensual cravings, including coffee, pot, alcohol, and potentially sex, although right now my libido is so low I’m actually adding “have more sex” to my list.
Even better is to fill my life with positive habits that I crave to repeat and which enlarge my soul and mind as well. Things such as travel, exercise, sports, romance, study, good conversation… yeah. Let’s keep growing that list and improving, shall we?
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