There are times that demonstrate more than other times what creatures of habit we are…In an attempt to practice what I preach, I have been crushing my tendency to binge, and that starts with booze… When I talk about binge drinking, I refer to the fact that I do not reach for a nightly glass of wine or anything else to relax me in the evening or numb the day as so many of my clients seem fixed into…

I am talking about the fact that when I get to social gatherings, I used to go crazy… Once a month or so, I’d drink far too much and feel far too lousy the next day, not even finding the gumption to expel the previously mentioned hang-over with my beloved self-hypnosis.

We are creatures of habit… We are animals of sorts, aren’t we? We’re very sophisticated and good-looking and all that, (well, as my regular readers, I just assume that you are) none the less,  we are made of flesh and blood.

In particular, our brains are vastly complex bio-computerised machines that are breathtakingly more advanced than any of us are capable of recreating with technology… As well as taking care of autonomic processes such as breathing, eating, heart-beating, temperature regulation and so on… Our brains also enable us to laugh out loud at South Park, appreciate the finer points of Anthony Hopkins acting and keep humming that Abba tune we heard on the radio… Though they may just be me.

As creatures, we have needs… As Abraham Maslow would ratify, we need to eat, sleep, be warm and so on. Additionally, as rather intelligent and social creatures, (again, I am making generalisations and assumptions about you guys!) we like to ccommunicate with one another in a variety of ways, and so we do. Then there are also hundreds more behaviours that are just as complex, if not more so. Do we stop and wonder how it is that we get all of this done?

The auto-pilot system that is our habits. Being creatures of habit is how.

When we are doing something that is habitual, we are not engaged in the task in the same way as when we are doing something that is not habitual. Once we have been driving for a couple of years, we are no longer concentrating on “mirror, signal, maneuver” in such a conscious, focused manner as we once did, are we?

Just as an example, consider the process of making yourself a cup of tea in the morning of a usual day… When you do it next, watch how effortlessly it just happens… Watching too close can verge on being an out-of-body experience!

Now, compare that to making tea in a hotel room while on holiday or at a friend’s house where you are tip toe-ing around because they are still asleep and you are an early bird in need of tea. It is a bit more complex again and needs some attentive focus!

Each of us have hundreds and hundreds of habits… Some we don’t discuss in the open… But generally, we should be pleased about habits!

Now I experience it a great deal because of the nature of my work… You don’t like all of your habits. In fact, some of them are decidedly displeasing to you. You would prefer not to sticking those cigarettes in your mouth, or scoffing those big bags of kettle chips dunked into that pot of houmous every night in front of Eastenders… Or quaffing far too many pints of Ringwood, getting far too loud and boisterous and regretting it the next day each time you attend a party (in my case).

Each New Year, I encounter them in their droves… People resolving to change bad habits and need some hypnotherapy to help them along the way… Or those that don’t need help, yet those reolutions fade into obscurity by February each year… Sometimes you succeed but often you fail.

Habits are extremely tough to change…. They’re hard to change because they’re so ingrained, they are wired into your way of being and into the brain circuits….

Whilst munching feverishly on a handsome, thick, juicy, perfectly cooked, very meaty burger at a garden party this weekend, I got embroiled in a conversation with some fellow ‘barbequeuees’ about our favourite binge foods… It made me stop eating quite so quickly…

I popped back in my mind to last weekend as I sat watching my Mother-in-law open her 60th Birthday gifts and I kept on eating the cheese straws in the pot beside me… I stopped when my fingers hit the bottom of the bowl!

If I have cheese straws in the house, they just get eaten. If there are many of them, I eat them until I feel bloated and sickly… And that won’t stop me eating them again, no aversion therapy for me when it comes to cheese straws!!

Cheese straws and my penchant for good beer are explained beautifully by Dr. David Kessler in The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. It’s that taste sensation, combinations of  flavours and textures, often changing as you chew, making the experience even more dreamy and pleasurable up until the moment that you snap out of that trance and realise you’ve uncontrollably eaten or drunk far too much.

In Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How to Stop, Cynthia Bulik writes, “Binge eating involves the supersizing of cravings to the point of an uncontrollable urge that snowballs until the binge eater literally feels helpless to resist the urge to binge.”

Many people I encounter lust after a particular kind of food… In fact, Bulik notes that binge eating occurs in about one in thirty-five adults in the US, mostly in secret. I guess it is similar numbers here in the UK.

Therefore, talking about it, as I did this weekend at the fabulous garden party we attended, was a good idea. I did not drink to excess and felt delighted about it, especially today. Today is to be celebrated, because today I begin my marathon training after several months off due to injury… I am looking forward to running off those cheese straws and nipping that habit in the bud too… 🙂