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working with cravings #1

think of something you crave.  imagine it.  picture it.  got it?

next time you have your next craving, no matter what it is:

  • “catch it” with awareness the moment it comes on, then immediately
  • play a pattern matching game :)


awareness is the absolute 1st key to dealing with anything that you want to change in your life.  there’s 2 kinds of awareness to be aware of :)

  1. the awareness or acknowledgement of what it is that you want to change.  in acknowledging your problem, you open up the possibility to work with it.  without awareness of your problem, you’re unaware that you’re unaware which makes it impossible to work with.
  2. the awareness of the craving or the urge the moment it comes on.  I like to call this “catching.”  you “catch” the urge the moment it strikes.

cognitive absorption through a pattern matching game

multiple studies have shown that playing a pattern matching game for 3 minutes at the onset of a craving reduced the intensity of the craving by 25%.  which for most of us is just enough of a boost to give us the will power to make a better decision.  

cravings have a very strong visual component.  the more you picture it the more likely you are to go for it.  to reduce the craving you simply need to give the brain something else to focus on.

the key is total cognitive absorption.  in controlled studies this was only acheived with visual pattern matching games.  reading a book, listening to music, or distracting yourself in some other way just wasn’t as beneficial.

the games that got the best response were:

our 4-step process for dealing with cravings

by the way, this process works!  put it into practice and notice your cravings disappear!

  1. install one of the games on your phone.
  2. write down your craving, your issue, your kryptonite.  if you have multiple that  you’re dealing with, write them all down.  this acknowledgement step is crucial, because it will give your unconscious mind what to look for.
  3. try to “catch” the craving or urge as soon as it comes on.  have an attitude of “aha!  there you are!”  look for the first hint, the first sign, the first urge of it!  play a game with yourself to see if you can catch it the moment it comes!
  4. break out your game and play for a minimum of 3 minutes.  longer if you want.

you can also use this to block anxiety.  understand, anxiety in some situations is a good thing if it prompts you to prepare NOW for something in the future – an exam, a project, etc.

in most cases however, anxiety creates needless suffering and keeps us from taking useful action.

  • if the anxiety is not helping you identify concrete steps you can take, it’s only causing you stress – use this process.
  • if the anxiety is keeping you from doing soothing you need to do, like get on a plane, or do a presentation – use this process.

you are stronger than you realize.  you now have the power to have awareness, and now a tool to work with things.

don’t try to relax, instead “catch” your urge, focus on something that gets you into flow.

one other thing? falling in love.

if you want to quit something, solve a puzzle or fall in love.  or do both.

Paul C. Tijerina

Paul C. Tijerina | BS MFT CPT NLP | Nutritional Therapist & ATAVIST Life Coach