Tunnel Vision for Behavior or a Substance

One of the difficulties in regaining control and reducing compulsive behaviors is the brain becomes fixated on getting the high or pleasure brought on by the behavior or substance. This leaves little to no time for the brain to be aware of emotions, physiological changes, sensations, mental status, or spirituality. The brain has tunnel vision for the behavior or substance and has no wide lens or peripheral vision.

Take Notice

Two words can help you release the brain from this tunnel vision and be more observant long before the craving for the behavior or substance begins. These two words are “take notice.”

  • Take notice. How do you feel when you wake up in the morning?

  • Take notice. What are your emotional state, physical state, mental state of mind, and spiritual state?

  • Take notice. What are your surroundings?

  • Notice the weather. Notice the formation of clouds in the sky. Notice the temperature. Notice the wind.

  • Notice what it’s like to have another day to try one more time.

Rate What you are Experiencing

What if you rate each of these states (emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual) on a scale from 1 to 100? As you “take notice,” you can be aware of the sensations that might start increasing or decreasing now or throughout the day. These initial sensations that eventually turned into cravings are the very things to manage before they dominate the brain and create tunnel vision until the brain is not interested in anything except the behavior or substance.

Interacting with People, Pleasant Emotions, Take Notice

Notice what it is like to interact with people you really care about. Notice what happens with the sensations in your body when you’re interacting with someone you know who really loves you. Notice what it’s like when you think about a child, perhaps your own child. Or, maybe a nephew or niece. What do you notice happening inside your body when you think about a grandparent? Maybe think about your special grandfather, grandmother, aunt, or uncle. Now “take notice” of the sensations happening in your body at this moment when you think about someone who matters to you.

Interacting with People, Unpleasant Emotions, Take Notice

Now, think about someone you have disagreed with, and maybe there are feelings of resentment. Think about that person. Notice how your body tells you something completely different. As you think about this person you disagreed with and perhaps have anger toward them, notice what starts to bubble up inside your body. Now, what is your body telling you?

Relationship to the Craving

Your body tells you something as you interact in pleasant or unpleasant relationships. When it comes to craving a particular behavior or substance, notice your relationship to the craving. Instead of changing your craving for the behavior or substance, it is generally more successful in changing your relationship to the behavior or substance. Take notice and see what you discover.

Last Updated in March 2022 

© 2018 Rod W. Jeppsen
Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist, CSAT
Certified Gottman Therapist
Certified Emotionally Focused Therapist