Dazed and Confused

Sometimes we buy or do things to feel better because we are not feeling good in the moment. Because we weren't thinking clearly at the time, these new things we bring in add to our discomfort. We brought in a distraction rather than something that supports our life.
This process is directed by an underlying feeling of, "I feel terrible, and I need to get something to feel better." Advertisements have trained us all to think and act this way. "If you buy ______, you'll be happy!" Because it's part of our culture, we don't question the logic and we get that next thing and bring it into our life which, after a brief period of excitement, ends up adding to the pain and agitation. 

I remember going through a painful breakup about fifteen years ago. My heart really hurt. I remember having this thought, "I need to buy the Led Zeppelin CD box set." There was a certainty in this desire. I thought I would feel better if I got this. So I went out and paid a hundred dollars and brought it home. I was elated. It was great to feel happy again. I put on the first CD and was in heaven. I like Led Zeppelin, but I'm not a devoted fan. I'm okay with hearing Heartbreaker occasionally on the radio. So by the time I got to the third CD I felt bloated and irritated. These CDs were the equivalent of a monster tub of ice cream. Now I was feeling sad again, and bothered by the music.

How does one avoid going down this road? What I've found is that it helps to notice when the quick-fix feeling comes up. There's often a ravenous glee associated with the idea of getting this thing, person, or activity. It's like a crazed sensation. It's a marked contrast to the sad or uncomfortable feelings that had preceded this desire. I know from experience that if I can delay getting whatever manna from heaven I think is going to save me, there's a good chance the desire will burn out.

I've had some people tell me that they stop and ask themselves, "What do I really need right now?" Or they'll call a good friend, which helps them feel reconnected again. Others have said they'll let themselves feel the sadness or whatever uncomfortable emotion is coming up for them.

What works for you?