We either are doing something to move towards pleasure or to escape pain
This isn’t a new idea; I have read about this many times and I expect you have too. It is possible to consciously increase a pleasure or pain association simply with our minds.
An example of this is in hypnosis. A person that has had hypnotherapy for quitting smoking can really feel disgusted by the smell of smoke. They could be shocked and surprised after being offered a cigarette; wondering why their friend FORGOT THAT THEY WERE A NON-SMOKER. Not that they had recently gone to a hypnotherapist and had quit. But that they were simply a non-smoker, as if they had always been. I have witnessed this personally. Seeing a hypnotist was never on my to do list and don’t plan to. I don’t believe in short cuts as I prefer doing things the hard way, the satisfying way. This is just an example of the power of the mind.
What I suggest is the art of negative association.
You might know about neurolinguistics programming, or hypnotism and such like. I just want to talk about a couple of practical things that you can do. If you attach enough pain to something in your mind, then this mental association will manifest itself physically. It is like a fear or phobia; the feelings are real even if there is nothing to fear. We can use this type of mind trick in a practical way.
The idea is to think of a negative association with something that you want to stop, write it down, memorize it then constantly and consciously think of it when confronted with the habit or food that you want to avoid.
I will give you an example.
Let’s say that you drink too many soft drinks. You are doing yourself real harm, but they taste good, they give you a buzz, you are addicted to them. Investigate the effects of high fructose corn syrup, phosphoric acid, aspartame and so on. Read about the leaching of calcium from your bones, the cancer risk, diabetes and so on. This process of learning will increase your resolve.
Then, think of a way that you can picture one or some of these problems easily in your mind.
Maybe you can get a glass of a favorite soft drink and put a tooth inside, go back when the tooth is dissolved.
Or, you would prefer to print off some pictures of a diabetic with gangrene in their feet before amputation…
Think of something, make it yours and try to keep thinking about it whenever you are tempted. Eventually you will start to look at those soft drinks with disgust. If it doesn’t work, then try again or try a different association.
Another example could be that you want to quit a certain restaurant’s fast food. Again you can research the lost rain forests that have been used for cattle grazing or the amount of growth hormones, antibiotics, chlorine and pesticide residues in the meat; the carcinogenic effects of rancid cooking oil or artificial additives.
Strengthen your resolve, educate yourself and face reality
Then think of a negative association. Think of the underpaid overworked employees spitting in the food or dropping it on the floor then still serving it. (I have worked in one of these restaurants I know… It wasn’t me!)
Maybe you want to think about the heart transplant recipient. When the surgeon squeezes the old heart for the benefit of some observing medical students, the fatty deposits ooze out of the arteries.
One of my favorites is to imagine the CEO talking to his managers. He is laughing as he calls his customers ‘users’ and dismisses the health concerns by saying if the customers can’t control their gluttony it’s their problem. He even states that he wouldn’t eat his own companies’ products after visiting the food processing factory. Oh, and including bonuses and stock options, he made 10 million last year.
Now before I get complaints I want to state, for the record, that I am not talking about any company.
It doesn’t even matter if the negative association scenario is true.
We are not planning for a court case or studying for an exam; just want to associate enough negativity to something that we can learn to avoid it.
It is better if our imagery is based on truth as it will make it easier
If you can convince yourself that if you eat that burger the aliens will abduct you, then that is fine. Just keep it to yourself and don’t quote this book!