So we all have our own types of opt-out behaviours. Sometimes we use some more than others. Some examples are, having great plans to go home and have a healthy meal and play a game of cards. When you get home you end up ordering pizza and watching The Real Housewives.. of whatever city they are in now.

We can punish that whole bottle of wine even though we promised ourselves only one glass because it’s a Wednesday and I don’t want to wake up hungover again. Once I have that first glass I say, “Well… what’s the harm of having one more.. and one more.. and there’s only a little left in the bottle so I might as well finish it.”

Another opt-out can be spending money mindlessly on stupid $#*!. Things like online shopping or being too lazy to make yourself coffee at home so you’re always picking one up on the way to work. Then down the road when your friends are planning to go on a weekend vacation somewhere you can’t afford it because you’ve wasted your money on these things. The clothes have probably already fallen apart because they are from some cheap online store.

Another one can be promising yourself that you will only buy healthy snacks at the grocery store but once you get there you are hungry and end up grabbing junk food and eating half of it on the way home.

Another one could be smoking weed in the garage after your kids have gone to bed because you just need to relax.

Social media is a gigantic black hole for time as well in terms of opt-out behaviours.

We often come in needing help or strategies for getting rid of these behaviours. We need to start eating healthy, stop drinking too much, stop watching so much frickin’ reality TV..

The thing is these behaviours aren’t really the problem those are just the opt-out behaviours that we use to escape from the feelings that we don’t want to have. So whether it’s sad or lonely, angry, disappointed, anxious or even things like being just hungry or bored. We don’t want to feel those things so we end up using the behaviours as a feedback loop to escape from those initial feelings.

When we say, I want to stop smoking and neglect the underlying cause then another behaviour like over-eating may pop up like a game of “whack-a-mole” to fill that emotional vacuum to help you cope.

What is going on in your life that is making you need to escape. Do you have space in your life for satisfiers? Those things that you do for fun. Do you have hobbies? Is it just safer to flop down on the couch because that is what you’re used to doing?

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Lindsay Sewall
Lindsay Sewall

Lindsay’s trained in: Anxiety and mood disorders, stress, trauma, relationship issues,