The “I Want” neurotransmitter. When the brain recognizes an opportunity for reward, dopamine gets released so we go and get the “thing”. If we don’t get the “thing” anxiety is felt.

Some of my Things:

  • Pink wine in a box
  • Grocery shopping for unique food
  • Gadgets – especially cooking gadgets
  • Office supplies
  • Technology
  • Garden supplies, seeds
  • Hardware Stores

Some Things that don’t trigger me:

  • Casinos
  • Malls
  • Shoes
  • Clothing
  • Ikea
  • Coffee shops
  • Jewelry
  • Drugs, pills, supplements, legal & not

There is nothing inherently bad about most “things”, but when it has created a big dopamine response it becomes addicting…like the next level of Donkey Kong or Pinterest or wine can become for some people. Me!

I think trigger is a good word to use because it starts the cycle of anxiety if the “thing” doesn’t happen. To relax I like a little Candy Crush, you win a little prize when you check in each day. There are pretty colors, fun surprises & enough thinking power to keep me engaged. Most days I play my 5 lives and I’m done. On a Saturday I play a little more between cleaning projects.

Could I put it down & never play again? Sure – but I would still seek out a relaxing reward most likely. I also do harder games daily but they don’t create that light dopamine response. They are more like fuel.

Can I put down the bottle (or box)? I have for the last 5 days with much less discomfort than at any other time I’ve tried. The difference this time is I replaced the desire or wanting. I’ve stayed tight to home and not shopped to reduce any outside stimulus. I’ve eliminated scenarios that would normally create that anxiety. I focused on fulfilling my needs so I wouldn’t go into a state of deprivation.

I was associating alcohol as my only reward. I was depriving myself all day from any comfort and would get in such a state of anxiety by the end of the day.

I have changed my perception of exercise and meditation from stress relief to putting gas in the car. The same with food & water. Stopping what I’m doing to refuel.

For today, I’m going to keep doing what’s working. And I’m going to watch if I’m triggered in other ways, checking FB, email, the news.

One thought on “Dopamine

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