I have a problem of overeating. Food gives me pleasure. Often, my stomach is full, but I still want to receive more pleasure, and so I keep eating.
Have you ever experienced something like this?
For some it may be food.
For some it may be drink.
For some it may be work.
For some it may be a relationship.
For some it may be exercise.
For some it may be movies.
For some it may be touch.
For some it may be attention.
Different things give different people pleasure, excitement, delight, rapture, fulfilment, enjoyment - call it what you may.
What about you? What gives you intense pleasure?
Before your read further, please take a moment to think about this.
Sugar makes your tea sweet. You feel the sensation of sweetness when the sugar in the tea comes in contact with your taste buds. Your taste buds send an electrochemical signal to the brain through the nervous system. The brain recognises those patterns by comparing them with previous stored patterns that relate to sugar. It gives you the taste of sweetness accompanied by the feeling of pleasure.
The electro-chemical patterns that tell your brain whether to process the signals as pleasure or pain may be genetically encoded, or may have been formed somewhere in our nurture.
My daughter doesn't like sweet things, by my son loves it.
But for the purpose of our discussion, let's say you love sweet foods. It gives you pleasure.
Hence, sugar is the underlying substance, that triggers the feeling of pleasure in your brain.
Now, when you have COVID (hope you don't, and if you do, I hope you recover soon), and your taste buds are a bit dull. Sugar now doesn't feel as sweet as it did. Your taste buds are not completely numb, but just dull, so you do feel a little sweetness. But it feels strange. It's like the volume knob for sweetness has been turned down in your brain. The same quantity of sugar now feels less sweet.
So you do one of two things - either you let it be as is and deal with the weird feeling, or you add a little more sugar to try and normalise the sweetness to bring it closer to what you are used to.
The reduced sensitivity to sugar makes you want to have more sugar so that you can experience the level of 'pleasure' you are used to.
Experiencing pleasure is experiencing live. Look at one of the synonyms of pleasure - 'fulfilment'. It seems to be made of two interesting words - 'full' and 'fill'. The feeling of fullness or feels filled.
We are all yearning to feel full. We want to be filled with joy, contentment, rapture, peace. Every experience of life gives us some sensations - sometimes pleasure, sometimes pain. We want to fill ourselves with sensations of pleasure. That is life.
Sometimes my sensitivity to receiving pleasure is dulled out (like COVID and taste buds). Then I need more and more of the underlying substance (sugar, work, food, etc.) to give me the same quantity of pleasure.
Over-eating happens. (food is the underlying pleasure source)
Over-dependance happens. (relationship is the underlying pleasure source)
Over-acting happens. (attention is the underlying pleasure source)
Over-work happens. (work is the underlying pleasure source)
Binge watching happens. (need I say?)
I want to make a massive proposition - any addiction is the result of our dulled sensitivity to pleasure.
Take a moment, and read the previous sentence once again.
Pleasure is important. It is life.
We must re-sensitise ourselves to receiving pleasure.
Pain and pleasure are similar in nature. But we don't like receiving pain. Hence we go through painful experiences, we dull out our sensations to pain (and pleasure) as a protective mechanism.
The result is that our sensitivity to pleasure also reduces.
We end up need more and more of the underlying substance to feel satisfied.
We live restlessly.
I speak this from my direct experience.
It's worth making doing what it takes to lowers those walls we built around ourselves and renew our sensibility to pleasure.
We must allow small things to give us pleasure again.
We must allow ourselves to be 'fulfilled'.
We must enjoy what life brings us.
We must experience gratitude.
We must celebrate little wins.
We must feel completeness.
We must dance with joy.
We must smile often.
We must play!
This one is deep and personal. I hope it relates with you. Do write back with your thoughts, and I'd be happy to share some more thoughts about how I have been working to renew my own sensitivity to pleasure.
With love and pleasure :-)