Satya writes: First, an early Christmas gift - until the end of today (10th Dec) you can get my new novel Afterwards for 99p / 99c. Take some time out for yourself over the holidays with this ”humbling, insightful, funny and very easy to read” book.
This weekend, a patch of eczema on my wrist flared up angrily.
When it itches, it is almost impossible not to scratch it. When I scratch it I make the skin more irritated, red, and raw. Sometimes it bleeds. When I scratch it, it contributes to an even greater itch later.
Last night, after failing to resist the itch again, I realised that the pain that follows scratching is much easier to live with than the itch.
Just like life. We all experience many ‘itches’ during our day – to check our email unnecessarily, to eat chocolate, to drink too much, to spend money we don’t have on something we don’t really need.
We get a little buzz from this short-term ‘scratching’, and our simple brains like this. They don’t quite realise that the consequence of this short term pleasure is some longer term pain – too much chocolate or alcohol leads to health problems, too much spending leads to debt.
They also often protect us from facing whatever it is we might be trying-to-avoid with compulsive behaviour – feelings of sadness, anger or loneliness, or simply that we ought to be doing our tax return instead.
When I can manage to resist itching, my wrist gradually starts to heal. I have to resist the itch many times, and then eventually it just goes away of its own accord.
This is how it is in life too. We just need to notice the urge to itch when it comes up, acknowledge it, and sit with it. Sit on your hands if you need to. Notice how the urge peaks, and then gradually ebbs away. When the urge comes up again, repeat. And repeat, and repeat.
Have patience with yourself. Be kind. Know that you won’t resist perfectly every time. Progress is more important than perfection, however slow. It takes time to retrain our brains, but we can do it. I haven’t itched my wrist all morning. It’s already feeling less angry.
What itch would you like to stop scratching? Let us know in the comments, and good luck.
Image: erika g.